So it seems that the hard-right Democratic Unionist Party is back in the news again. Not for trying to hold hostage the government of the United Kingdom during its chaotic Brexit negotiations with the European Union (and by extension with the other twenty-seven national governments of the EU). Or for trying to extort more political and financial concessions from the minority administration of Theresa May and the ruling Conservative Party in London. Instead, we have a new set of revelations from the BBC about the controversial donations to the DUP by the Constitutional Research Council, a mysterious and largely anonymous Tory-linked think tank based in Scotland which financed a swathe of Leave campaigning during Britain’s referendum on its membership of the EU in 2016.
The DUP previously admitted that the CRC had filled its coffers with an unprecedented donation of £435,000, which the party used to pay for a pro-Brexit advertising blitz targeting several key cities in England in the days before the plebiscite. An incident which has subsequently led to demands for a public inquiry in the House of Commons and across the political spectrum in London. However the BBC is now reporting that after the vote the Democratic Unionists received:
…a further £13,000 donation from a pro-Brexit group in the months after the EU referendum, documents have confirmed.
The Constitutional Research Council (CRC) had previously donated £435,000 to the DUP during the 2016 Brexit referendum campaign.
The bulk of the £435,000 was spent by the DUP on pro-Brexit advertising.
The party did not comment on how it spent the £13,000 donation but said it used donations to “further the cause of unionism at home and abroad”.
Meanwhile, the DUP is making more headlines over news that the council nomination papers for one of its local election candidates in Belfast, Dale Pankhurst, was countersigned by a member of the Orange Order convicted of driving his car into a crowd of pedestrians during tensions over a loyalist parade in the nationalist Ardoyne district of the city. Pankhurst is also being quizzed about the presence of Mark Officer, a “loyalist bandsman” previously convicted in court of possessing £1 million of cocaine, at one of his street canvasses, with the latest reports claiming that Officer signed the nomination papers for another Democratic Unionist candidate, Gillian Simpson.
And this is the political party that Prime Minister Theresa May and the Conservative Party government in London was relying on to decide the future of the United Kingdom and the European Union?