“A significant proportion of traffic already passes through Dublin en route to Northern Ireland. Longstanding controls already exist on many goods entering Northern Ireland via Great Britain — livestock movements have been subject to checks for decades.” ft.com/content/a21807…
“Beefing up existing procedures should not be cause for alarm..EU should accept that Northern Ireland is no longer intrinsically part of the bloc’s legal order. Again pragmatism is vital: a hybrid solution may be to enforce the EU’s rule book through the UK courts, as in Norway”
“The goal of a smooth Brexit is too important to let it slip because of the objections of some hardline unionists. The UK should engage with the EU’s gentler approach. Ultimately it remains in the interests of both sides to strike a withdrawal deal and...a deal on Irish border.”
If UK exits EU without a Withdrawal Agreement, political relationships between European NATO allies will be extremely strained:
Would NATO remain “Brexit-proof”?
Would UK public support for defending EU allies fall?
What should NATO do?
In March 2017, before the UK activated the article 50 process, I suggested that France, Germany, and the UK would have to work hard together to ensure Brexit did not disrupt European military cooperation. But a no deal Brexit will make that very difficult: research-collection.ethz.ch/bitstream/hand…
For example, might EU-NATO cooperation be hampered in a no deal Brexit? The UK exit, even with a deal, already complicates that discussion. This was my take for @Carnegie_Europe in March 2018:
I came to the same conclusion as @anandMenon1, assessing the diplomatic difficulties a no deal Brexit could cause for Ireland. My take? If a no deal Brexit is a phase and not an endgame, then it is a tactical problem for EU and a strategic one for the UK:
“In the Republic of Ireland, more than seven in ten voters said they were unhappy that the UK was leaving the EU. Three quarters thought the country had made the wrong decision, even according to its own interests.” lordashcroftpolls.com/2018/06/brexit…
Ashcroft poll, Ireland:
“More than half thought Brexit would make relationship between IRL & NI more distant, and two thirds thought same of IRL’s relationship with UK. Three quarters said they felt positive about Ireland’s EU membership, and 80% would vote to remain [in] a ref”
“In Northern Ireland, nearly two thirds agreed hard border “would be likely to create division and provoke paramilitary activity, threatening peace and security”...nine out of ten Nationalists, but fewer than four in ten Unionists – and a quarter of DUP supporters”
The drag on Brexit is contradictory expectations, based on clashing facts. Brexit requires a trade-off between sovereignty and the economy. It is one thing to argue for more sovereignty or frictionless trade, it is another to pretend the UK can have both.
Many of the responses to my tweet below Iain's have focused on the word "reprimanded" in the Guardian report that I cited. This, of course, does not mean Barnier actually "reprimanded" Raab, albeit he may have complained. But some responses I have received are revealing.
2) Indeed, many responses are un-re-tweetable, due to their vehemence of personal attack on Barnier himself. However, the bigger point is what this vignette reveals about the Brexit negotiations. At the very least, it suggests that HMG is confusing tactics and strategy.
3) The vignette also suggests that some in HMG do not understand how EU works, and what non-membership entails. Everyone expected HMG to try to divide the EU, as is London's right and I would do the same in their shoes. But this shows how not to do it, is even counterproductive.
“Dominic Raab has been reprimanded by Michel Barnier after the EU’s chief negotiator discovered the British government had written to the 27 other member states asking for side negotiations on transport in the event of a no-deal Brexit.” theguardian.com/politics/2018/…
“transport secretary, Chris Grayling, had ordered the letters to be sent despite being told less than two weeks ago by the European commission’s most senior trade official, Violeta Bulc, without a deal this autumn, there would be no other agreements made to protect UK economy”
”Barnier is said to have reiterated that message to Raab, telling the cabinet minister: “If there is no deal, there is no trust.”
Agreed, the EU has always wanted a deal. No one on the EU side has ever said “no deal is better than a bad deal” (even though that is true for the EU, but not for the UK). Trying to help HMG conclude the withdrawal agreement with a flexible future framework is not the same thing.
This is clearly the start of the pure or hardline Brexiteer “backstop attack” campaign, mainly coordinated by the ERG group of MPs. Johnson is crystal clear that the backstop is the only, and silly, obstacle to the ideal “Canada-style” free trade agreement with the EU.
Deploying irresponsibly inflammatory langauge, and displaying a profound indifference to the politics and peace process in Northern Ireland, Johnson resurrects the canard of technology-based solutions. But he gives no examples of such a magic border anywhere else in the world.
“Any physical infrastructure or border officials would become targets for dissident Republicans and require police protection, he said...”That was done during the period of the Troubles rather unsuccessfully, and was sadly the subject of attacks and many lives lost”
“Renewed focus on a border rendered invisible by the 1998 Good Friday Agreement would also stoke tensions between Northern Ireland’s two communities. “It doesn’t take too much to make people insecure in their identity and constitutional position,” said Hamilton...”
The paradox of “pan-European” extreme populist nationalism. There is a nationalist/patriotic case for European cooperation, indeed some would say that EU has been all about reinforcing nation-states. This other extreme version of nationalism only leads to trouble in today’s world
For example, if one considers the “Europe des patries” vision of de Gaulle, which Thatcher also essentially adhered to. Usually prefers cooperation, and wariness of “integration”, meaning centralisation of competences via the Brussels institutions, but does not exclude it either.
There are a few types of nationalist/patriotic pro-European visions - to put it crudely - from more confederal visions for European cooperation, based on pragmatic interests, to more “civilisational” based prejudiced visions of who Europeans are, to extreme populist nationalists.
V thoughtful piece by @dijdowell, but isn’t this Chequers ~+? No UK incentive for trade deal?
“The whole UK would align with EU on customs, VAT & excise. Northern Ireland would align with EU on goods. Great Britain would align with North Ireland on goods”medium.com/@dijdowell/bre…
I may be missing something re the conclusion, but there is lots of excellent analysis to ponder in this piece by @dijdowell, this is v important:
“not sure Brussels understands what undercutting unionists like that might mean...not even sure Dublin..fully grasps implications.”
Also, Bloomberg reported yesterday that the U.K. has still not formally tabled an alternative backstop proposal, so @dijdowell thinking this through with U.K.-wide components is most welcome. In an ideal world I would prefer a U.K.-wide backstop, but...
The Senator, who is the Seanad Spokesperson on European Affairs, also rightly dismisses those who think that the Irish border issue is being used as a ploy to force a certain kind of Brexit on the UK. Rather the backstop is about protecting the Good Friday Agreement settlement:
Indeed, the Good Friday Agreement offers a way to reinforce UK-Ireland relations after Brexit, similar to what the Nordic Council has done for its members, even though two of them are not in the EU:
“...supported by her exiled children in America and by gallant allies in Europe...declare the right of the people of Ireland...to the unfettered control of Irish destinies....”
As is their right, the Irish people have chosen the EU
There should not be confusion between the right to make sovereign choices, and a particular interpretation of “sovereignty”. Ireland tried autarky, for example, and it was a disaster. More importantly the Irish people are sovereign, and it is up to them to decide Ireland’s path.
Over 100 years after the 1916 Proclamation, this principle is perhaps best shown by Brexit. The UK people have made their choice, but “despite Brexit” the Irish people choose to remain in the EU, as is their sovereign right to do so. This piece sums it up: irishtimes.com/opinion/fintan…
Given what Boris, JRM and other ERG-ers have said about the Irish border so far, presumably they would not accept a backstop and try to railroad Ireland, hoping the other EU26 pressure Dublin into a deal? If so, that would be very unwise...unless they really want a no deal Brexit
Or, if they wish to have a deal with the EU in the end, would the ERG-ers decide that Northern Ireland is not "as British as Finchley" after all, and do a "Nixon to China" on the backstop, clearing its passage through parliament?
Which would make for a very uncomfortable conversation with their close friends in the DUP....not forgetting how other MPs may react!
1) These remarks by ex-UK Brexit Secretary David Davis reveal some core intellectual flaws at the heart of some Brexiteer thinking. Not only related to the Irish border, but also in HMG’s general approach to negotiating with the EU over the last two years
2) For example, the problem with the Irish border issue was not that it was "over-emphasised", as David Davis puts it. It was more that HMG didn’t take the issue seriously for much too long.
3) Protecting the Good Friday Agreement had been one of three EU withdrawal priorities from April 2017. And there were constant efforts by Brussels and Dublin after that, including holding up “sufficient progress” at a summit in October 2017, to get HMG to focus on the issue.
“Food supplies could be temporarily disrupted – the beef trade could collapse, for example, as Britain is heavily reliant on EU imports, and would be forced to apply tariffs, in accordance with World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules.”
“status of legal contracts..with EU companies would be unclear as the UK would become a “third country” overnight. Increased and uncertain processing times for goods at the border would be “nearly certain”, risking queues at Dover and forcing firms to rethink their supply chains”
1/2 An open border is one of the main agreed results of the GFA peace settlement, as shown by the security section cited below. The GFA doesn’t mention customs, as it didn’t need to. They were removed in 1993-94 due to both Ireland and the UK being members of the EU...
2/2 A closed - or less open - border clearly would greatly hinder North-South cooperation and reconciliation - one of the main objectives of the GFA. Up to now, strand two (N/S) of the GFA has functioned well, based on shared EU rules covering 142 areas of cooperation.
PS As UK PM May said in Belfast in July:
“Because the seamless border is a foundation stone on which the Belfast Agreement rests...Anything that undermines that is a breach of the spirit of the Belfast Agreement.”
“German business leaders have raised the alarm over the state of Brexit negotiations and are urging *the UK government* to soften its position ahead of make-or-break talks with Brussels in the coming weeks.”
“If there is no agreement by mid-November, German companies will start implementing their emergency plans for a no-deal Brexit,” Mr Lang said. “In a no-deal scenario, and without a transition phase, we would end up with a border and customs regime that no one is prepared for.“
Please note: the UK is not being “barred from Galileo”, it can still use the system after Brexit, including the secure signal. But EU rules (which the UK pushed for) limit the industrial participation of non-EU members. That is the nub of the issue: nothing more, nothing less.
So when some UK commentators like @fromTGA say things like:
“The exclusion of Britain from the high-security development of the Galileo system (Europe’s alternative to GPS) was a quite gratuitous slap in the face” - this is a gross misreading of the issue. theguardian.com/commentisfree/…
Or if EU bent industrial participation rules for Galileo, so that UK retained current level of industrial involvement, would industry in other EU countries complain? Would it have a knock-on effect in other sectors/projects? Would it contradict general EU approach and principles?
Interesting, and perhaps what Raab was referring to yesterday. Afaict, since backstop is meant to protect an existing peace settlement (and an EU member is co-guarantor), from disruption due to the UK’s withdrawal, hence it is 1 of 3 withdrawal priorities - thus art 50 applies.
This, again from @pmdfoster, seems to be the nub of the legal issue, but appears to me as an attempt by HMG to shift some of the substance of the WA into the future relationship treaty (s). Who is leveraging the Irish border now? :-)
A reminder that during 2017 the UK exported more goods (in value) to Ireland (£20.3bn) than to China (£18bn). And the UK trade surplus with Ireland has grown from £4bn in 2016 to almost £6bn in 2017 (£20.3bn v £14.5bn). See interactive tool point 9 here: ons.gov.uk/economy/nation…