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Remain, distinctiveness and the GFA… October 23, 2019

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Fintan O’Toole on an IT podcast last week made two interesting points. In response to the question about the idea that many have had that the UK would not leave the EU, he was asked was it time ‘to put those dreams aside’. His response was that bittersweet as it might be with a deal that supports the integrity of the dispensation on this island it might well be time to do so, or something along those lines. That rings true to me.

Secondly he argued that whatever else the Johnson deal would inevitably see the North drawing away, on some levels, from the UK. I wouldn’t overstate this to be honest. As noted on here before there are many fairly distinct differences between NI and Britain (as there are between Scotland and England). But this does seem to be a point where something is genuinely happening and where the future will be distinctly different from the past.

I rarely say this, but from their perspective – in fairness to the DUP – they were absolutely correct to fight the GFA/BA tooth and nail, and try to rework it. Not because the GFA/BA led inexorably from there to here and beyond, who predicted Brexit, but because it opened up the prospect of change. Or perhaps more accurately codified that prospect for change. And that was, from the opposite perspective precisely why Republicans were right, in their overwhelming majority to support and continue to support the GFA/BA.


1. roddy - October 23, 2019

Will O’Tool ever admit that his”plan” for SF to resign their seats and hand them over to others willing to swear an oath to the British queen “to stop Brexit” was absolute horse shit from start to finish and SF abstenstionism had nor never would have had any bearing on the outcome.His “plan” if heeded would have resulted in the most damaging split in Republicanism since the treaty and risked the momentous achievement of Adams and McGuinness in bringing the overwhelming majority of Republicans behind their peace strategy.


WorldbyStorm - October 23, 2019

Yeah, that was a terrible terrible idea on his part.


2. Saints and Scholars - October 23, 2019

Well, I think the answer to Roddy’s point is “er, no.” Fintan doesn’t often do mea culpas despite having plenty of justifiable opportunities to demonstrate that kind of self-reflection.

I would agree with all the points in the post.

Remainers would be better off now to switch the case to “accept we must leave but, in doing so, should remain as close as possible” a la EEA/Norway” on basis that this would best represent the closeness of the referendum vote as well as the most practical way forward. The notion that “Leave” automatically encompasses or is only worth doing accompanied by a repudiation of ANY broadly “economic” connection with the EU is inherently ridiculous. One might argue for a full break on other grounds (taking back control of border, money and laws) but not that somehow this position is intrinsic to leaving at all.

On the second, I wouldn’t overstate either but wouldn’t understate neither! Whereas AI Agreement, Downing St. Declaration, GFA “threat” to union was UK forswearing any strategic interest in sovereignty over the North, you could call that an untying of the NI ship from the harbour but not pushing it out to sea. In this case, NI was thrown overboard (albeit providing it with some upsides as well as downsides) to preserve an essentially English driven priority.

In relation to the third point, I might disagree a bit. I would say DUP were entitled to do as they did rather than absolutely correct. At its worst, it looked as if the DUP could have had a veto over the initiation of a limp regulatory (zone) and over its continuation later. That was “overreach” with which they could only get away because of perceived reliance on their parliamentary votes rather than because of demonstrable, objective merit, and therefore always at risk of being jettisoned for a more reasonable consent basis.


WorldbyStorm - October 23, 2019

Ah yeah, that’s a fair point re the third point. Overreach was indeed part of the problem. They could have been more nuanced.

Agreed the GFA did change things, but wow, now things have changed again. And in a way they can’t be unsaid.

I think that’s the strategic challenge for Remain. They have to change course somewhat because there’s no political oxygen left for them (at least as matters stand).


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