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Bad faith? February 23, 2021

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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The IT had a persuasive point this week in relation to the DUP and the Northern Ireland Protocol and ‘its Irish Sea quasi-border’. Noting that there was no hope at all for unionists that the protocol would be abandoned the piece continued:

The DUP is nevertheless pressing ahead with its insistence that the teething problems on the Irish Sea are an attack on the sovereignty of Northern Ireland and can only be overcome by Westminster reneging on the protocol. No alternative is proposed, so the remedy involves abandoning attempts to maintain a border-free island and to keep the North in the EU’s single market.

And:

All or nothing. Just as it blundered tactically in opposing Theresa May’s failed attempt to keep the whole of the UK in the single market, her alternative to dividing the UK, the DUP continues to see imperfect reform of the protocol as an enemy of perfection, the abandonment of the protocol.

This in a way shows up how threadbare both their criticisms and approach are.They’re defaulting to a situation where a ‘quasi’ border would come into being on the island of Ireland. And this would be one that would not be essentially out of sight and out of mind for the most part, but one that was evident to everyone crossing that particular stretch of land day in day out.

Of course the reality is that any ‘quasi-border’ is imperfect, but there’s worse and better if not best – at least in a world of Brexit and all that entails. Perhaps, bluntly, the fact is that once Brexit occurred there was no real option other than some form of distinction between Northern Ireland and Britain due to the very specific circumstances that the former found itself in. But then let’s not get too teary eyed over this. Northern Ireland has always been distinct from the rest of the UK. This relatively minor change, and one that offers economically a window to the EU that the rest of the UK lacks, is arguably one that could be immensely positive for the North. And if the DUP were just that little bit more imaginative perhaps they would see that that might be an opportunity for them too to maintain the status quo well into the future.

Now the latest news is the deployment of a “legal challenge to the Northern Ireland protocol, challenging its “compatibility with Act of Union 1800, the Northern Ireland Act of 1998 and the Belfast Agreement”.

I wonder how substantial that actually is – one presumes even this Tory government would have been all over the legal aspects of the Protocol. But then thinking of David Trimble’s most peculiar contribution at the weekend one had to note that he listed in those supporting the Protocol, everyone in NI politics bar the DUP and UUP and the EU, ROI government, as well as perhaps most importantly, the UK government. And again this too is as crucial as the point about the distinction of NI from the rest of the UK. The UK government remains the executive authority. In a sense this is an exemplification of the Union, that it is not run for the convenience of the constituent elements, as such, but for the benefit of the political centre.

Comments»

1. EWI - February 23, 2021

The unionist legal attack on the Protocol (with an ultimate aim of damaging the GFA) won’t win, and for the same basic reason that the challenge against Brexit failed. No British court will lightly rule against a (Conservative) government’s freedom to do as it pleases.

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Klassenkampf Treehugger - February 23, 2021

Yes – the extent of the push towards Orbanist *Gleichschaltung* in the Brexitanian political order is frightening – from academia, through the media to the law.

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2. Klassenkampf Treehugger - February 23, 2021

I wonder about a fundamental Calvinist masochism/fatalism in the collective soul of DUP/TUV unionism. Part of the identity is to feel persecuted while being in control. A bit like old white maledom. But (t)he control is slipping.

Or perhaps they like being the Tories’ abused bitch, deep down.

And then again when were previously dominant groups in such a society ever that politically agile? Nostalgia for absolute power doesn’t leave you light on your feet.

Unionism could have played the whole Brexit opportunity much better. But luckily they didn’t have it in them.

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EWI - February 24, 2021

I wonder about a fundamental Calvinist masochism/fatalism in the collective soul of DUP/TUV unionism. Part of the identity is to feel persecuted while being in control.

No surprise their close affinity with and links to Trumpism.

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3. CL - February 23, 2021

” The DUP extracted considerable largesse for Northern Ireland from the prime minister. Then it rejected the Brexit backstop model she proposed and transferred loyalty to Boris Johnson….His landslide victory and 80-seat majority ended his dependence on the DUP….

David Trimble and his lifelong political rivals, the DUP, are now calling for the Protocol to be scrapped. Mr Trimble, the former Ulster Unionist Party leader and now Conservative party peer, negotiated and signed the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. The DUP walked away from those same talks. For years afterwards they pilloried him and undermined him for the deal he struck….
A willingness to compromise and to take account of the other side defines the Good Friday Agreement.
If Good Friday Agreement principles are used by London, Brussels, Belfast and Dublin in the search for a solution to the Northern Ireland Protocol controversy, there is a chance of success.
If the negotiations are reduced to “give us our way” arguments, the trouble will deepen.”

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4. benmadigan - February 23, 2021

“one presumes even this Tory government would have been all over the legal aspects of the Protocol”
The arch-Brexiteer ERG certainly went through it with a fine legal tooth-comb but finally declared that it “preserves the UK’s sovereignty”.
https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/dec/29/brexit-trade-deal-wins-support-of-conservative-erg-mps

Look forward to the ins and outs of constitutionally dancing on the head of pins in the 1801 Act of Union, the 1920 Government of ireland Act and so forth.

Does anyone imagine that any UK judge (and remember this is an Ulster Unionist vs UK issue) would ever jeopardise this present government and its flagship Brexit policy to support a minority in a tiny peripheral area of the UK?
And if s/he should, no uncoded constitution will stop Westminster from amending the various historical Acts the very next day to ensure compatibility reigns supreme?
After all the 1800 parliament certainly can’t bind the 2021 one

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5. CL - February 23, 2021

” in response to the legal action taken by the DUP and others, German MEP David McAllister, chair of the Parliament’s UK Co-ordination Group, said that “flexible” and “pragmatic” solutions to some of the issues around the Protocol should be found, but not at the expense of the principles at the heart of the Protocol.
These, he said, where “to avoid a hard border between the Republic and Northern Ireland, to enable the true functioning of the all-island economy and safeguarding the Good Friday Agreement in all its dimensions, and to ensure the integrity of our single market for goods, along with all the guarantees it offers in terms of consumer protection, public and animal health.”
The centre-right MEP, who is also chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said: “The Protocol, in the end, was the issue of squaring the circle [of Brexit and the island of Ireland] and this was a compromise that was found and accepted by both sides.” ….

Fianna Fáil MEP Barry Andrews said ” “It is astonishing that the 1800 Act of Union is cited in support of the [DUP’s legal] case.”
https://www.rte.ie/news/brexit/2021/0222/1198569-brexit-british-irish-parliamentary-assembly/

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