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Right. Some quick takeaways on the 'reassurance to the DUP' document that's just been published by UKG here 1/Thread

1. If the backstop kicks in, UKG will ensure GB doesn't diverge to minimise regulatory 'gap' over Irish Sea.

This fits what @DLidington said before Xmas /2
@DLidington It's not a magic bullet, but officials say it will "chisel right down" the number of additional checks needed, until such time as the backstop is replaced. /2
@DLidington 2. The Govt commits to giving Stormont Assembly a vote on whether or not to extend transition or go into the backstop.

This will give NI a "strong role" in the process BUT (critically) it can't actually bind Westminster MPs. So it's advisory, but wd put on pressure. /3
3. The BIG ONE. The UK govt gives the Stormont Assembly a 'lock' on accepting any new laws/directives from the EU when the backstop comes into force. /4
This flows from a UK 'win' in the negotiations in which the UK refused an EU demand that Northern Ireland must implement all new directives during the backstop period.

See 15.5 of the Irish Protocol (p322) which makes this clear. /5
This begs question of what would happen if NI Assembly refused to accept new directive, and how backstop would operate in the case that this divergence became material.

BUT it points to the fact that the backstop must corrode over time. It wont self-sustain permanently. /6
This is the key para (23) in the new document.

In short, a UK minister can't run off and agree to new rules for NI without NI consent. /7
4. The document also contains commitments that the Protocol cannot unravel the agreed North-South co-operation process set out in the Good Friday Agreement.

That's this para...

What does that mean in plain English?

As explained to me, it protects against Irish attempt to use the backstop to capture the N-S process and bully the UK into accepting alignment to maintain the all-Ireland economy. /9
So let's say UK diverges on, say transport rules, or procurement rules, and the Irish lobby the Joint Cmme that backstop is becoming unsustainable, they cannot circumvent the existing North-South process. The NI Exec gets seat table, existing discussion formats must be used. /10
So is all this a game-changer, a magic bullet?

No. The DUP has already signalled it is not buying. But perhaps it makes their case harder to make? Persuades those willing to be persuaded?

But it's a long shot. The DUP is dug in deep. Protest is hard-wired into its DNA. 11/ENDS
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