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Today UK govt published its unilateral 'commitments to Northern Ireland & its integral place in the UK'.
I'd read it not just as an effort to get unionists on board #WithdrawalAgmt but a nod towards post-Brexit governance.
Here’s an ‘essentials’ guide..
It comes on the 2nd anniversary of the collapse of the NI Executive.
I really hope that isn’t a coincidence.
& if it isn't, it's a pointed reminder to those who claim to be concerned abt the representation of NI that they cd put more effort into getting Stormont up & running.
The DUP came out quickly to reject it, underwhelmed & unconvinced.
Others will be too, but we cdn’t expect detail or substance on commitments at this stage.
(Besides, perhaps it's a duty of politicians in NI to bring forward proposals re: enhancing representation of NI..?)
There are a few key points to bring out, both for NI and UK-wide.
On the ones that are significant for Northern Ireland, I’d pick out 5...

i) NI Assembly wd debate&vote whether #backstop shd come into play by July 2020.
Its view (assuming there will be an agreed ‘view’) to be fed into Westminster for final decision i.e. consultative & once-off.
If no alternative by end of extended transition, automatic #backstop
ii) Agreement from NI Assembly needed before applying *new* EU laws here.
NB If this wasn’t forthcoming UK would still be legally obliged to ensure NI compliance.
So be wary of ‘veto’ notion. The whole WA (& Single Market) will not at any point hinge on a decision of MLAs.
iii) Looking ahead, the govt commits to agreeing a MoU with NI Executive, setting out arrangements for the Executive’s role in respect of the new UK-EU bodies estd by the WA (e.g. Specialised Committee on Protocol)
There is a lot more that could be done here, but it’s a start.
iv) Its spin on Protocol is that it offers “An enhanced role for Stormont in boosting the NI economy”.
Those already in support of the WA in NI see this already.
Those critical of it are unlikely to be convinced, mainly cos their priority is either UK pol. union or GB economy.
v) It notes the UK Union depends on consent of the people of NI.
& thus avoiding a hard border is essential, because (it is implied) to not do so wd diminish support for the Union.
A new twist on 'principle of consent' – perhaps informed by fact majority vote in NI was Remain?
And now for the points that are significant for wider UK.
First, devolution is back on the agenda; in fact a ‘new chapter for devolution in the UK’ is heralded.
NI Assembly to have ‘significantly increased powers’, but there will also be boons for Scotland & Wales [no detail]
Secondly, in the event of #backstop, NI will hv to follow a ltd no. of EU laws to avoid a hard @BorderIrish.
AND to avoid a harder 'Irish Sea border', GB will not diverge either from these rules.
Is the UK as a whole committing to alignment as long as #backstop is in force?
If so, we can only assume this paper isn't to bring Brexit hardliners on board but is written for soft unionists in NI & GB worried abt implications of WA.
Serious commitment to the Union, no?

What are the chances of it being grabbed & run with by politicians here in NI..?
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