Phil Syrpis Profile picture
7 Apr, 14 tweets, 3 min read
One more go at the Irish border 'trilemma' (see @rdanielkelemen's Venn diagram) and Brexit.

The implications of the latest developments are very stark. Thread.

While the UK and the EU were in the same regulatory space (single market and customs union) there was no need for significant border checks between the two. 2/
Then along came Brexit. Over the years since 2016, Brexiters' position has hardened. Sovereignty and regulatory freedom were prioritised. And so, solutions which would have 'solved' (or 'de-dramatised') the Irish border issue were rejected. 3/
Membership of the single market was rejected. Theresa May's 'UK-wide backstop' was rejected. Few concessions to alignment with the EU were made in the (therefore thin) TCA agreed in December. 4/
That all meant that there was a need for a hard border between the UK and the EU. And a need for a solution which addressed the unique circumstances on the island of Ireland. 5/
Both sides were determined that the border should not go across Ireland. And both sides agreed, in the NI Protocol, that the de facto border should instead be between GB and NI. 6/
At the time the Withdrawal Agreement and the NI Protocol were agreed, there were hopes that the TCA would allow that border to be de-dramatised. But those hopes came to nothing. 7/
The resulting situation is problematic. As @hayward_katy explains here, the EU's external border now relies on the UK. 8/…
Worse, the UK Govt, and Unionists in Northern Ireland, have consistently misrepresented the nature of what was agreed. The PM breezily states that there will be no customs checks (and indeed no non-tariff barriers) - and people appear to believe him. 9/
He seek to blame others, principally the EU, for the emergence of barriers to trade; and to blame businesses for failing to make the necessary preparations. 10/
The real risk is that the border arrangements on the Irish Sea fail, and that the NI Protocol collapses. Some appear to be relishing that prospect. 11/
The consequences for Ireland seem not to concern them - though they should. The lack of concern for UK trade ('global Britain') and the UK's international reputation (eg with the US) I find almost impossible to understand. 12/12
PS - This was from last September (in the midst of the Internal Market Bill furore).

The paras at the end, on the extent of the commitments in the Protocol re GB/NI trade, seem especially relevant now.…
And see this damning appraisal of the Govt’s lack of effort to find workable solutions...…

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More from @syrpis

18 Apr
I keep saying that if the opposition parties are going to make headway against the Tories, they have to work together.

The lobbying scandal provides a good challenge - one which they seem to be failing. Short thread. 1/7
Sleaze, cronyism and corruption are back. It isn't just Greensill - it is also PPE/NHS contracts, housing, the ministerial code etc etc.

It is part of an unprecedented, and very dangerous, attack on the constitution and public institutions. 2/7…
The Govt's defence is two-fold.

First, to have a pliant enquiry, and to feign that this issue is taken *very* seriously.

And, second, to seek to draw all politicians (and, better civil servants too) into the mire, and further reduce trust not in them, but in politics. 3/7
Read 7 tweets
12 Apr
There are a growing number of people, on various sides, saying that remainers are to blame for *this* Brexit, because they refused to back Theresa May's Brexit deal, which would have avoided many of the GB/NI border problems.

One thing in particular perplexes me. 1/3
The curious thing is that I have seen very few people seek to level a similar charge at the Govt.

It is, after all, they who made changes to Theresa May's deal, they who insisted that the UK leave the customs union, and they who agreed the NI Protocol. 2/3
It is they who do not have an answer to the Irish border trilemma. If, as they do, you insist on regulatory autonomy, there has to be a border between the EU and the UK - the only question is where to put it. 3/3
Read 4 tweets
9 Apr
Has anyone written anything about the financing of COVID testing?

I'm just reacting to the news stories about people having to pay for multiple tests if they go on holidays abroad. 1/4
We have had *a lot* of testing done so far - for going to school, for going to workplaces, if symptomatic, etc etc. All of that has been free (at least for those being tested). 2/4
So... my questions:
How does one distinguish between situations in which testing is free and not? Are we moving towards more paying for testing? What would the implications be of making all COVID testing free? 3/4
Read 4 tweets
8 Apr
Next question. What is @BrandonLewis going to say and do today? It strikes me that he has two options. 1/4
First, he could commit to the NI Protocol and explain the work that is ongoing, within the very limited confines of the TCA, to 'de-dramatise' the GB/NI border. Ideally he might even explain the Protocol, and the reasons why it was agreed. 2/4
Or second, he could respond to the real concerns of the Unionist community, and make promises, incompatible with the NI Protocol and the TCA, not to introduce 'unconstitutional' intrusions onto UK sovereignty. 3/4
Read 4 tweets
1 Apr
Late last night, I had a dream that I was given access to the work which is being done, deep in the bowels of Downing St, for the Brexit inquiry. I only remember snippets, but here goes... THREAD. 1/8
The conclusions have already been written. Teams (led by a respected cross-party group of members of the House of Lords (Hoey, Stuart, Hannan and Moylan were mentioned)) are now seeking out the evidence. 2/
Brexit is a triumph. Global Britain has been reborn. Our sovereignty has been regained. We have regulatory autonomy and unfettered trade. The Govt has worked day and night to deliver on the people's priorities, and must be celebrated. 3/
Read 8 tweets
31 Mar
I started to read the Commission Report on Race and Ethnic Disparities (attached).

It is jaw-dropping in places. This, from the foreword, for example... 1/2…
'We increasingly felt that an unexplored approach to closing disparity gaps was to examine the extent individuals and their communities could help themselves through their own agency, rather than wait for invisible external forces to assemble to do the job.' 2/2
Just two more points on this.

1. 'Helping themselves' is *not* an 'underexplored approach'. FFS.

2. If 'external forces' were more visible that might, who knows, be an improvement. FFS.
Read 7 tweets

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