1. Exquisite Tweets from @jackbern23

    PreoccupationsCollected by Preoccupations

    So the DUP's inherent bigotry, homophobia, climate change and evolution denial should disbar them from mainstream politics, full stop. But.

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    Jack Bernhardt

    It's important not to let the DUP's general grossness overshadow just what a colossally irresponsible move this is from TM. It's INSANE.

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    Jack Bernhardt

    I sound like a broken record but please please please can we talk about how powersharing has collapsed in Northern Ireland?

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    Jack Bernhardt

    This is a list of the current members in the Northern Irish Executive in Stormont.

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    Jack Bernhardt

    It's been like this for three months. This crisis dates back to the Cash for Ash scandal involving current head of the DUP Arlene Foster.

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    Jack Bernhardt

    It's a frankly unbelievable story of sleaze at the top of NI politics. It would be difficult for most governments to deal with.

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    Jack Bernhardt

    Add in the inherent sectarian tension in Northern Irish politics, plus heightened fears over a hard border post-Brexit, and it's paralysing.

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    Jack Bernhardt

    Sinn Fein pulled out of the executive in protest at Arlene Foster, triggering elections which eventually gave SF an increased vote share

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    Jack Bernhardt

    They had six weeks after that point to form a government. SF demanded Foster quit as head of DUP, she refused. Again. Things got more tense.

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    jackbern23

    Jack Bernhardt

    The deadline for forming government passed. At that point either ANOTHER election had to be called, or you revert to Direct Rule.

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    Jack Bernhardt

    At this point Westminster woke up. The idea of Northern Ireland slipping back to Direct Rule months before Brexit negotiations = NOT GOOD.

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    jackbern23

    Jack Bernhardt

    So at the end of March James Brokenshire went over to NI to generally just ask people to get along/be totally useless. It didn't work.

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    Jack Bernhardt

    He said there was no appetite for another election (true) and no appetite for Direct Rule (also true). So they just extended the deadline.

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    Jack Bernhardt

    Keep in mind, this is end of March. We've just triggered Article 50 and we're currently having a totally pointless argument about Gibraltar.

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    Jack Bernhardt

    Should we have been having a discussion about the steady erosion of the peace process in Northern Ireland instead? YEAH MAYBE.

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    Jack Bernhardt

    The deadline is shunted on further. Talks between SF & DUP are going nowhere. But at least the UK government is aware of the problem now.

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    jackbern23

    Jack Bernhardt

    Things are tense, complicated and messy. You know what the situation doesn't need? A snap general election.

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    jackbern23

    Jack Bernhardt

    Suddenly Northern Ireland is facing the prospect of ANOTHER election, for Westminster this time, while dealing with a constitutional crisis.

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    jackbern23

    Jack Bernhardt

    So the deadline gets shunted until after the election. The parties are now negotiating and campaigning at the same time. Great stuff.

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    jackbern23

    Jack Bernhardt

    And so to yesterday. SF get 8, DUP 10. The more moderate SDLP, UUP and Alliance fall away. Northern Ireland is more polarised than ever.

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    jackbern23

    Jack Bernhardt

    Before today, TM's government has been criminally negligent of Northern Ireland. Think about how little you've heard about NI this election.

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    jackbern23

    Jack Bernhardt

    It was only ever brought up in relation to Corbyn and the IRA. There was NO discussion of Stormont impasse, or even the border post-Brexit.

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    jackbern23

    Jack Bernhardt

    You'd think we'd have learnt our lesson after the EU referendum and actually thought about the consequences of a Hard Brexit in NI. But no.

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    jackbern23

    Jack Bernhardt

    So here we are, June 9th, 10 days before Brexit negotiations, with no Stormont government and mass confusion over the NI Brexit border.

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    jackbern23

    Jack Bernhardt

    We have three months of inaction. We have the DUP and SF in a stalemate. The deadline is approaching again. Direct rule looms.

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    jackbern23

    Jack Bernhardt

    These problems will only be solved by careful, strategic leadership from Westminster, working with both parties to deescalate the situation.

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    jackbern23

    Jack Bernhardt

    What Theresa May has done today has destroyed any hope of that. At one of the most dangerous times in its recent history, May has done this.

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    jackbern23

    Jack Bernhardt

    Any pretense that the UK government could be neutral in this is gone. Their entire existence is now dependent on the DUP.

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    jackbern23

    Jack Bernhardt

    Direct rule is not an option because the DUP has an unrealistic amount of sway over Westminster. It throws the balance of power totally off.

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    jackbern23

    Jack Bernhardt

    Arlene Foster, who should have resigned months ago for her rank corruption, now holds more power over the UK government than...anyone?

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    jackbern23

    Jack Bernhardt

    The next deadline, by the way, is June 29th. But now the DUP is in bed with the UK government, will James Brokenshire have any authority?

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    jackbern23

    Jack Bernhardt

    Has anyone in gov thought about what happens when THAT expires? Why should Sinn Fein treat the UK gov as a neutral arbiter after that?

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    jackbern23

    Jack Bernhardt

    Power-sharing relies on a neutral UK government. If the government is beholden to one side in power-sharing, it is fatally undermined.

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    jackbern23

    Jack Bernhardt

    It's hard to see what happens in N Ireland without power-sharing or without direct rule. Either it will float on, pushing that deadline...

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    jackbern23

    Jack Bernhardt

    ...or the whole thing is irrevocably damaged and the system implodes.

    For what, a two seat majority?

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    jackbern23

    Jack Bernhardt

    I may be wrong - there may be some incredible fudge that Tories/DUP/SF have planned. Maybe the DUP are hoping the SF will just accept it.

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    jackbern23

    Jack Bernhardt

    I pray TM has a plan beyond "keep the DUP onside, stay in power". If she doesn't, she's thrown Northern Ireland into chaos for nothing.

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    jackbern23

    Jack Bernhardt

    FYI: I am NOT an expert on this. I have probably made countless errors and generalisations & my Northern Irish friends are probably furious

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    jackbern23

    Jack Bernhardt

    If you want someone seriously in the know can I recommend @SiobhanFenton who has been doing brilliant work on Northern Ireland constantly

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    Jack Bernhardt