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Cognitive dissonance alert…  August 4, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

For Stephen Collins, for no sooner has he criticised the government for ‘adopting an aggressive stance’ with the British government along comes John Bruton to upset matters yet further. Collins writes:

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s decision to have a public spat with the British government over Brexit may be understandable but it is not very wise.
His proposal that the future border between the European Union and the UK should not be on the island of Ireland but at ports and airports on either side of the Irish Sea is eminently sensible but unfortunately it has been a political non-runner from the start.
By promoting it publicly, Varadkar has provoked a hostile reaction from both the British government and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) for no tangible political or diplomatic gain.

And while he’s sympathetic…

Of course, the frustration of the Taoiseach and his Ministers with the sheer stupidity of Brexit is understandable. Varadkar was right to emphasise that all of the problems associated with it are due solely to British decisions and not to anybody else.

He argues that:

However, finding the least worst option to the myriad of problems Brexit will inevitably generate for both parts of Ireland demands subtle negotiation and careful planning rather than megaphone diplomacy.

Bruton however argued yesterday on radio that:

“This is border deepening legislation. Brexit was Britain’s idea, but they have not yet come up with any ideas, he said. “What do they want? There have been no answers from them or the DUP. What kind of agriculture policy will they have?”


…the UK has not come up with any plans. “They are still having debates they should have had three years ago.”

By the by Noel Whelan takes much the same line in the IT this morning as Bruton (albeit has a gratuitous dig at SF for not outlining ‘special status’ for NI – which I thought they had). And Whelan notes that the DUPs position on frictionless borders is essentially fantasy.

And here’s the basic problem, and perhaps a good reason why Varadkar should be taking a sharper tone with London and Belfast (though it would be useful to see him do the latter in regard to a host of other matters). Bruton is, God knows I find it hard to write this, correct. London is in chaos. There are Cabinet level disagreements even at this point as to the future shape of Brexit (and by the way that points not to the prospect of the British government imploding but rather that they’re feeling comfortable or deluded enough to expend energy on such matters). This is not merely infantile but it’s also makes progress impossible. What London is the Irish government to talk to? That of May? Or Hammond? Or Fox? You’ve Middling, soft and hard Brexits there. And no certainty as to which will prevail. And all this short months before actual decisions, which should have been made long long ago, have to be implemented.

For Dublin to be pointing out in stark terms just how problematic this is is actually in our national interest and that of this island. Because so much of the London debate, such as it is, seems to ignore Irish concerns and the Border in particular completely.

It is a priority to ensure that London acknowledges and acts upon those concerns. And there’s a further point. The Irexit lobby have long argued that the RoI government should be in bilateral negotiations about Brexit. There are issues there in relation to the EU, but a subtext of that has been to largely acquiesce to the new dispensation that London is generating. They certainly never envisaged, I suspect, that Dublin would be critical of the UK lack of stance.

But again, what choice does Dublin have when faced with the chaos.

Bruton also has a point in arguing that the DUP must articulate precisely what its position is. For too long they’ve been able to coast on vague language that suggests they’re against a hard border while their actual actions seem to be predicated on that border coming into being.


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