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That May letter… and this state March 30, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Here is the paragraph on Ireland.

v. In particular, we must pay attention to the UK’s unique relationship with the Republic of Ireland and the importance of the peace process in Northern Ireland. The ROI is the only EU member state with a land border with the UK. We want to avoid a return to a hard border between our two countries [sic], t be able to maintain the Common Travel Area between us, and to make sure that the UK withdrawal from the EU does not harm the ROI. We also have an important responsibility to make sure that nothing is done to jeopardise the peace process in Northern Ireland, and to continue to uphold the Belfast Agreement.

And on all that… From Siobhan Fenton in the Guardian – a key point.

[Northern Ireland] merited scarcely a mention in the run-up to the EU referendum, with neither Leave nor Remain campaigns grasping the complexity of how Brexit will affect Northern Ireland. Nine months after the referendum, no one in the British government seems any the wiser about the future of the Irish border.
It is astonishing that May is moving to trigger article 50 without seriously addressing this beforehand. Once negotiations with the EU formally begin and the official countdown to a deal deadline starts, she might just realise the enormity of the problem she has been sidelining thus far.

But keep in mind that mentality Fenton mentions still persists. This from the same paper on the same day – an analysis of May’s Article 50 letter that somehow doesn’t mention the word Ireland once (though Scotland is referenced once).


1. GW - March 30, 2017

The two major planks of May negotiating position – blackmail over the exchange of information about criminality (I include what is termed terrorism in that category) and the simultaneous negotiation of divorce and what follows have been refused by the EU side.

The EU (I am no great admirer) seems to have recognised the existential threat of a chaotic approach to the Brexit process and have formed a consistent position. I don’t think the Brits will succeed in splitting this consistency – they haven’t succeeded so far – but we’ll see what transpires.

Brexit is going to happen and from now on just a long wearisome process to get through, as far as the rest of the EU is concerned. They are reconciled to the consequences of no deal being reached.

To it’s other existential threats the EU remains blind or at least unable to react.

The difficulty for the Irish will be to keep attention on the question of the border and the peace process, which for rUK has little real priority. No deal would be a significant problem here, so RoI needs a plan for the event of no deal.


EWI - March 30, 2017

I don’t think the Brits will succeed in splitting this consistency – they haven’t succeeded so far – but we’ll see what transpires.

I wonder which position the Irish government will take? Although there are far more personal enticements available on the EU side (such as pensions for ex-EU ambassadors).


GW - March 30, 2017

I’m no friend of Fx governments, never have been. But I don’t envy them the difficult, multi-dimensional, significantly unknown process that Brexit has plunged them and the RoI civil service into.

They’ve got to hang together with the EU27 and at the same time on the QT have contact with the English authorities about the CTA and what might happen in the case of no deal.

Of course we should all, as citizens, be part of shaping the process and ensuring the situation doesn’t come to violence again.


2. sonofstan - March 30, 2017
WorldbyStorm - March 30, 2017

It is genuinely awe inspiring how (and I dislike word but the hat fits) stupid some of the comments btl on that article are. Deliberate (one hopes) misinterpretations, misc characterisations and distortions of the very sensible argument the article writer makes (my favourite being “you don’t get charged £50bn when you cancel your subscription”… No. But you do pay outstanding costs on the most recent issues). I’m half English on one side of my family and in a quiet way Anglophile but sheesh. I give up.


Michael Carley - March 30, 2017

they feed into a narrative that the UK is still a world power able to shape the circumstances it finds itself in

That’s it right there: left and right, brexit and bremain, all think the UK (England) is a great power which can dictate terms. One side thinks they can go it alone and do whatever they want because they are powerful; the other demands a vote in Parliament on the terms of a deal because they think the EU27 will have to renegotiate.

The EU27 are bending over backwards to help the UK, by saying the exit is reversible, but that won’t last.


WorldbyStorm - March 30, 2017

+1 to your pont re the shared delusion on both Brexit and Bremain sides.


3. Joe - March 30, 2017

Em. A couple of thoughts.
First, the border. Clever of the UK govt to stress their desire for a contactless border. UK capital wants seamless access to the EU markets. The EU can’t have different arrangements for different parts of its border. So contactless border RoI/NI means contactless border UK/EU. I think May has learned from Enda on this one – she’s saying to the EU “Don’t mess with my border and me with the peace process in my arms”.
Second, on Brexit ‘succeeding’. It couldn’t have all happened at a better time for the UK government (and for the EU too). The UK and EU economies are heading for boom after the bust of the last ten years. Classic capitalist economy cycle of boom and bust. So it looks pretty much like these economies will be strong – employment growth etc etc – for the next four or five years. During which time all the negotiation can be done and the new arrangements bedded down. So the Tory government can keep on with the mantra of “All these doomsday predictions about the impact of Brexit, but look – the economy is booming, Brexit is good for us”.


1729torus - March 30, 2017

The UK can’t afford to bluff over a hard border like that, because the economic damage to England would be similar to that NI would experience. Maybe worse. Google “operation stack”.


Ed - March 30, 2017

I wouldn’t be at all sure about the boom-bust cycle coming into play, Joe – the British economy is still very fragile. This was a good take on it from Aditya Chakrabarty, who’s one of the few columnists consistently worth reading:

“Five years from now, our national income will actually be smaller than it is today. For the average working Briton, this will be the worst decade for pay since the Napoleonic wars. By spring 2022, workers will still be earning less, once you strip out inflation, than they were when Northern Rock collapsed in autumn of 2007. Much of this is down to Brexit, but it’s important to remember how weak Britain’s economy was even before the referendum. And ultimately, what meagre growth we’ll get will rely on ordinary families shopping and racking up big credit card debts. Last year, more than 100% of the UK’s growth came from consumption. Hammond’s biggest gamble is his assumption that British families will keep borrowing and spending even while they are getting poorer. In that scenario, only two things can happen, and neither of them is good. Either families will start to batten down the hatches and spend less, which will further slow down our growth; or a growing number of low-paid people will fall into more problems with debt.”



4. sonofstan - March 30, 2017

Just had a colleague rush up to tell me excitedly that his new Irish passport had arrived. Second gen*, Liverpool via the West of Scotland. I did joke that with a trail like that, his family ahd barely left Ireland.

* that means grandchild of original emigrant right?


WorldbyStorm - March 30, 2017

I think so


oconnorlysaght - March 30, 2017

Perfectly correct. It is my position,too.


sonofstan - March 30, 2017

Ta, some US sources call the original emigrant ‘first gen.’ and the next – first born on American soil – ‘second gen’. But i knew it was the other way here. Kinda like first floor/ground floor confusion


5. Ed - March 30, 2017

Another small but revealing illustration of how little the Westminster elite know or care about Ireland: some journalists (the deputy political editor of the Times in particular) are currently losing their minds because Corbyn said, in response to an interviewer’s question, that if the NI Assembly voted in favour of holding a referendum on Irish unity, then the British government shouldn’t try to block that.

It’s hard to tell if they are genuinely unaware that this has been the constitutional status quo since the GFA was signed nearly twenty years ago, or if they are pretending to be ignorant to score points; either way, it’s telling. The clowns are now falling back on an absurdly literal-minded reading of the GFA, pretending to believe that this clause has no bearing whatsoever on the situation Corbyn was asked about:

“Subject to paragraph 3, the Secretary of State shall exercise the power under paragraph 1 if at any time it appears likely to him that a majority of those voting would express a wish that Northern Ireland should cease to be part of the United Kingdom and form part of a united Ireland.”

Some might think the existence of a nationalist majority at Stormont would be a hint that public opinion was shifting on the question of Irish unity, but these great minds know better.


EWI - March 30, 2017

I note that it reads ‘shall’, rather than ‘may’.


6. benmadigan - March 30, 2017

“if at any time it appears likely to him . . .”
isn’t it time this vague criterion was defined more clearly?
Whose interest is it to press for a definition?

Liked by 1 person

7. CL - March 30, 2017

“leading Brexiters … speak warmly of returning to Britain’s historical vocation as a “great trading nation”, when it was actually a great imperial nation. That important distinction leads to overconfidence about the ease of re-creating a global trading destiny, in a world in which Britannia no longer rules the waves.”

And also one in which it can no longer waive the rules.


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