Running to stand still

Running to stand still View Gallery
Arlene Foster makes her keynote speech during the DUP’s conference in Belfast last weekend Picture: Getty

The DUP is committed to preserving the status quo - except for Britain’s membership of the EU. It could shape the Brexit deal, but what happens then for the party that doesn’t like to look too far ahead, as Britain goes through some seismic changes?

It’s a Saturday morning in the grand ballroom of the Crowne Plaza Hotel on the outskirts of Belfast. The Reverend Willie McCrea – who was recently ennobled as the Lord McCrea of Magherafelt and Cookstown, and who once argued that the British military should bomb towns along the Irish border – leads the faithful in a prayer. He appeals to a higher being that the DUP’s leaders and officers will have the wisdom to “do what is right in the sight of the Lord”. This is not how political gatherings usually begin – but then, this is the DUP’s annual conference, a political party event unlike any other on the island of Ireland.

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