The political week in 5 points

There is increased speculation that the DUP and Sinn Féin are nearing a deal. The UK Government claims that the ‘big two’ have re-entered intensive talks to overcome the political dead-lock at Stormont. Despite irish language being the deal breaker for Sinn Féin it is unknown what the DUP will ask for in return. It is understood that bi-laterals between all parties will continue this week, however, it is the gap between the DUP and Sinn Féin that really holds the balance of power; should that gap be bridged within the coming weeks, we could see the restoration of Stormont before Halloween.

Jacob Rees-Mogg gets slammed over his Catholic beliefs. The North-East Somerset Conservative MP, who has been tipped as the next potential Conservative Party leader, has been on the receiving end of severe scrutiny after laying his catholic beliefs on the table for all to see. This week, Rees-Mogg reiterated his pro-life stance on abortion and voiced his disagreement on the topic of same-sex marriage; given his views are in line with traditional catholic teaching, it is hard to understand why such views, which should come as a shock to no-one, flared up such anger. However, given Rees-Mogg was the only Conservative MP to vote against the Dubs Child Refugee Scheme, which enabled unaccompanied Syrian children to enter the UK to seek asylum, the ‘conservative’ MP left himself wide-open to criticism given his values are screaming ‘inconsistency’.

Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs urges the UK to remain within the Customs Union. Simon Coveney has urged the British Government to enable the UK to remain with the Customs Union post-Brexit, claiming that an exit from either the Customs Union or the Single Market was not how Brexit was portrayed to the electorate before heading to the polls in June 2016. Despite the Prime Minister having announced the UK’s withdrawal prior to trade negotiations even beginning, Coveney said “shutting off avenues such as remaining in a customs union, without agreed deliverable and credible alternative pathways, narrows future options in a dangerous way.”

Ian Paisley Jr has found himself in the firing line of ‘expenses’ accusations. This week the North Antrim MP was accused of accepting £100,000 worth of hospitality from the Sri Lankan government without declaring it. The allegations were first reported by The Telegraph, which Paisley Jr subsequently denounced as defamatory and has since referred himself to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards. Paisley Jr wouldn’t be the first DUP MP to be caught in the spotlight for expenses purposes, however, given the DUP’s recent electoral successes in spite of the party’s role in the RHI financial scandal, it is unlikely that if claims were found to have any substance, that his political career would suffer in any way as a result.

Questions over Adam’s leadership of Sinn Féin after 34-year run. Gerry Adams has served as one of Ireland’s longest Party leaders since becoming Sinn Féin President in 1983. Love him or hate him, like the late Martin McGuinness, he played an integral role during the peace process here in Northern Ireland. Adam’s character, whilst detested among Unionism, has went largely unchallenged within Sinn Fein. However, should Adams stand down as leader at Sinn Féin’s next Ard Fheis in November, the party could see a change in direction and external perception as its’ ‘armalite and ballot box’ leadership begins to curtail.