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Crisis? What Crisis? Well… perhaps a hard border crisis. September 30, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Graham Gudgin, former advisor to David Trimble is in a happy place, dispensing wisdom on Brexit to all and sundry in the Irish Times. For example:

Apocalyptic views are still current. For instance, former taoiseach John Bruton recently said “Brexit will devastate trade flows, and human contact, within Ireland, with incalculable consequences”. Indeed, Bruton sees the consequences for peace on the island as so serious that they should arguably be the subject of a second referendum.


These deep fears stem from an anticipated need for the EU’s external tariff to be applied on trade with the UK, and for migration controls at either the Border with the Republic or when people leave Northern Ireland for Britain.

And also:

At all levels there is a feeling that Ireland may have to take the side of the EU in the upcoming negotiations.
This is not necessarily the view of the Irish Government, nor of senior officials who have been meeting British officials to plan a strategy for Ireland that will maintain free trade and free movement. Although pressures to behave like good Europeans may well intensify, the intention of the Irish Government, like the UK government, is to keep the land Border open. Neither see a serious danger to peace on the island.

Uh-huh? Not necessarily the view of the Irish government he says? The intention of the UK government he says?

Well what of that Irish government? Indeed what of that UK government? For the actual Irish and British governments seem to have somewhat different views this very week. As reported also in the IT:

Demands by a leading British minister to quit the EU’s customs union will make it “extremely difficult” to maintain an open Border with Northern Ireland, Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan has said.
Saying he was “surprised” by international trade secretary Liam Fox’s declaration, Mr Flanagan cautioned: “I’m not sure that is widely shared among his colleagues.”
In a speech, the Conservative minister suggested that the UK would leave the customs union and negotiate its own trade deals as an independent member of the World Trade Organisation.

Now in fairness Gudgin has some good proposals about the manner in which matters should proceed.

Pessimists can, and do, argue the UK is likely to need border controls in Northern Ireland to prevent illegal immigration. If large flows of illegal immigrants do occur, the problem can be managed mainly though the UK’s systems of national insurance numbers for workers. Even if this system was circumvented, the obvious point of control is not at Northern Ireland’s porous southern Border, but at the limited number of exit points to Britain.
The DUP opposes such controls as a weakening of the ties between Northern Ireland and Britain, but border controls, if needed, will not represent any such weakening. Instead, they will be a practical solution to a specific problem, just as removing shoes and belts to board aircraft is a practical response to security threats for all modern air travellers.

But should and will are two different issues, and really, as Flanagan’s alarm suggests, the noises coming out of Britain – the divergent noises – are far from reassuring. Those who want a hard exit in the UK would near enough guarantee the imposition of a hard border on the island. Those who want a softer exit seem blissfully unaware of the fact the EU is not going to concede freedom of movement once Brexit actually is complete.

It would be a laughably pathetic situation if it wasn’t so serious in its implications for this island.


1. Joe - September 30, 2016

The coming negotiations are going to be a massive challenge for the Irish government. The negotiations will be between the EU and the UK. Ireland is part of the EU but its interests are not the same as those of the rest of Europe. So it has to promote its interests within the EU and try to get them protected in the EU’s position in the negotiations. But if Germany’s or France’s or whoever’s interests conflict with Ireland’s, guess who’ll win within the EU re which position to take?

Is there a point (there should be imho) where the Irish government, having failed to have its interests adequately represented by the EU, cries halt and goes for Irexit?

Ireland’s interests are more than economic. Yes, the UK is Ireland’s biggest market. But the peace that followed the Belfast Agreement is the most important interest to be protected by the Irish government in all this.

I only hope that the Irish government is preparing for these negotiations better than the UK one appears to be.


sonofstan - October 1, 2016

Could it be worse?


2. ivorthorne - October 1, 2016

The UK government – or at least senior members of it – seems to be willing to cut off the country’s nose to spite its face.

Is it possible that its stupidity might actually work in its favor during the negotiations? More sensible EU negotiators may find themselves playing chicken with the equivalent of a maniac who thinks he is Superman.

Cameron went to the EU with the threat of Brexit in a satchel and looked for a deal on immigration. The other members didn’t blink and offered him some, relatively speaking, minor concessions. They knew he was a “sensible” man and would not advocate Brexit because it would be economic suicide. Maybe the hard-Brexit idiots with their suicide-bomber like mentality might get a little more from their opponents because of their own stupidity and disregard for the hurt their actions might inflict on the working class of the UK?

Probably not.

Listening to some of the commentary from UK based political types, it is somewhat strange to hear them talk about “Europe” and “the Europeans” – “Them” and “Us”. Many seem to have no real understanding of the fact that there is no unified “them”. Yes, the German auto-industry might benefit from giving the UK a good deal but that’s not going to count for much when it comes to the Poles or the Greeks. They are negotiating with 27 other countries and whatever deal they get will have to be acceptable to all of those countries.


WorldbyStorm - October 1, 2016

I think it is wilful ignorance in large part. I hate to say this, half my family is from England originally and I was born there myself, but semi or pseudo imperialist thinking isn’t unknown and across a very broad spectrum politically – often unthinkingly in its assumptions…superiority, leadership, exceptionalism, etc.


3. CL - October 1, 2016

“We will introduce, in the next Queen’s speech, a Great Repeal Bill that will remove the European Communities Act from the statute book,…

“This marks the first stage in the UK becoming a sovereign and independent country once again. It will return power and authority to the elected institutions of our country. It means that the authority of EU law in Britain will end.”-Theresa May

“sitting together at the same prestigious European table somehow enabled London and Dublin to start treating one another as adult members of the same family….
On the spectrum of European opinion, Britain and Ireland were at the relatively pro-business and free-market end…

half of Ireland’s farm exports go to Britain…
Some 44 per cent of exports from Ireland’s ‘indigenous’, as opposed to foreign-owned, firms go to Britain…

Ireland may soon be faced with exactly what it has managed to avoid for the past 40 years: a hard choice between friendship with Britain and relationships with continental Europe.
it would be politically unthinkable for any Irish government, even the now-ruling Fine Gael party which is free of nationalist baggage, to induce the nation to choose Britain over Europe.


4. gendjinn - October 2, 2016

If only the EU parliament would vote to amend the Article 50 timeline upwards from 2 years to something reasonable like say 1,000 years.


Tomboktu - October 2, 2016

Can it? It’s article 50 of one of the treaties, which are agreements between states, not the parliament.


gendjinn - October 2, 2016

Doing it by treaty ratification in 28 countries in 3 months would make it the perfect reality show.


sonofstan - October 2, 2016

The Brexit factor?


gendjinn - October 2, 2016



5. ivorthorne - October 2, 2016

I’m living in the UK at the moment. Brexit has made things interesting. You overhear people talking about politics in pubs in a way that didn’t happen prior to the referendum and it is eye-opening.

That notion of British superiority is more common that I would have imagined and seems sustained by emotion. I listened as two white British people got into a heated debate when one of the two mentioned in passing that the French did some things better than the British. After things flared up, this man clarified that, of course, “we” do most things better than the French but that he was not claiming that they were better than “us”. His opponent in this lovely debate accepted this but still seemed offended that this man had brought up the point. As far as he seemed to be concerned, the only acceptable time to bring up people doing things differently on the continent is when you’re pointing out how much better the Brits do it.

It has echoes of the Russian reporter who was attacked by a studio audience and on social media when he corrected a presenter who said that English supporters had attacked Russian fans in France when it was the other way around. The man was only reporting the facts but the audience accussed him of not being patriotic and supporting “our boys”.

Liked by 1 person

sonofstan - October 2, 2016

Yes. You even get it from remainers in a different form; people who genuinely think Brexit is a huge mistake, still say stuff like ‘well it’ll teach the EU it needs to reform’ as if the UK had nobly taken one for the team here. Just accepting that it was a massive fuck up with no upside is impossible.

Liked by 1 person

6. CL - October 2, 2016

“Brexit underlines the vital importance of the ‘special relationship’ with the United States”-John Bew and Gabriel Elefteriu.

“the notion of a ‘special relationship’ was invented for reasons of political expediency by Winston Churchill, who then became the first of many prime ministers to discover it to be a myth.”-Max Hastings


ejh - October 2, 2016

Any relation to Paul?


CL - October 2, 2016
CL - October 2, 2016

If you have some liberal views on domestic politics, but are prepared to concede that George Bush might be broadly right on foreign policy…. then the Henry Jackson Society is for you, and we invite you to join us.-Brendan Simms.


Gewerkschaftler - October 2, 2016

Brilliant. Only Orban’s view of Hungary (the last Christian bastion against the Muslim refugee hordes!) could be any further from reality.

Who do you think Obama calls first over most things within European politics now?

May or Merkel?


yourcousin - October 2, 2016

Wait, did any of us ever think that Obama called Cameron on anything?

I would also point out that the Hungarian relationship with the Muslim world is a complicated one. So much of their national identity much like Serbia’s “castles in the sky” come from multiple Ottoman invasions. The painting of St. Stephen that my wife had is an old one of him in battle slaying a Turk. And when I grow my beard both and my MIL call me Mehemed. Unlike say Germany whose main exposure has been guest workers.


RosencrantzisDead - October 2, 2016

Are you seriously giving Orban a pass on this?


yourcousin - October 2, 2016

No. Unlike most people I’ve been following the Hungarian castastrophe for over a decade and lamenting the lack of a non statist left over that period. What I am saying is that there’s a difference between the xenophobia in Hungary versus the xenophobia in say Scandanvia. It doesn’t make it any better, I’m just providing context.

Trust me, I spend more time reading about and hating Fidesz and Jobbik than most people here.


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