Professor of European Law, University of Liverpool
Joint Editor, Common Market Law Review
Second Violin / Viola, Liverpool Mozart Orchestra
All views personal.
Mar 3 • 4 tweets • 1 min read
It's bemusing that those Brexitists who spent years shouting loudest "you lost, get over it" are now the ones who appear least able to accept the consequences of their own actions. Less funny? The indelible stains that their lie-to-victory tactics leave on UK public life, eg...
... today alone we read that Sunak Government promises DUP new legislation whose sole apparent aim = to confirm the existence of an objectively verifiable and incontrovertible fact: that NI is part of the UK. Parliament's job is now to tell us "earth revolves around sun"?! And...
Feb 28 • 19 tweets • 4 min read
Having read the various elements of the “Windsor Framework” (the title may be designed to appeal to unionists, but it is actively alienating for nationalists)... here is a short thread summarising my second impressions:
1) recall main pillars of existing Protocol: NI follows certain EU rules on goods= avoids hard border with IRL + gets privileged Single Market access; but UK accepts degree of internal separation between NI-GB; & EU accepts part of its external frontier is in hands of 3rd country
Feb 27 • 5 tweets • 1 min read
Reading parallel documents on new Protocol deal published by UK Gov & by Commission = sometimes hard to believe they're talking about same thing. Partly because Tories can't resist usual propaganda (evil EU red tape, great Brexit freedoms, blah blah blah). But first impression?
May not be such a radical transformation as UK Gov claims. But certainly very significant changes here. Yes, many Protocol fundamentals remain intact. But both sides have reinforced compromises required to prevent hard IRL/NI border while also protecting EU & UK internal markets.
Feb 27 • 6 tweets • 2 min read
Protocol deal sounds very interesting, but full significance depends on draft legal texts. Eg "Stormont Break": will it apply to all future changes to EU law inc to acts already listed in Protocol; or is veto only for future changes to EU law within scope, but not listed as such?
After all, eg if "Stormont Break" only applies to future EU measures relevant to, but not already listed in, Protocol, Art 13 already foresees need for EU & UK to agree on application to NI / deal with consequences if not. So new deal creates *internal* UK process to decide that.
Feb 20 • 15 tweets • 3 min read
It's tedious having to repeat ourselves every time Protocol on IRL/NI hits UK headlines (so many past threads...) but bottomless pit of Brexit dishonesty & incompetence makes the task unavoidable.
So... a few simple bullet points, reminding us how to refute common ERG/DUP lies:
1) Brexit means borders. Inherent and inescapable. And after all, borders are what the Brexitists wanted. But in the case of NI, that border cannot be across land with IRL. So it has to be across sea with GB. Only question is: how visible and cumbersome will that sea border be?
Feb 20 • 16 tweets • 3 min read
Among the reasons ERG / DUP extremists have manufactured to scupper Protocol, their hatred of the European Court of Justice is perhaps the weirdest.
Here is a summary of the actual law - so that when we get further details of any EU-UK deal, you can sift fact from propaganda:
1) Withdrawal Agreement, including for Protocol, uses standard international dispute settlement: political negotiations between EU & UK; if those fail, EU or UK can go to arbitration panel. But if dispute involves interpretation of EU law, panel must seek guidance from ECJ
Feb 14 • 5 tweets • 1 min read
It is deeply dishonest for extremists like Frost (and not credible for anyone else either) to claim that "Brexit" was any sort of concrete prospectus or worked out vision for UK's future, beyond simple act of leaving EU. Set aside fact its advocates offered multiple visions...
... each mutually contradictory & only more or less unworkable. Real point: there was only 1 question on referendum ballot, in or out; only 1 constitutional authorisation by Parliament, HMG can notify decision to leave; only 1 letter from HMG to European Council, UK is leaving...
Feb 13 • 11 tweets • 2 min read
So many times the question is asked, “how do we make Brexit work [better]?”
A few thoughts:
1) Insofar as Brexit means "UK departure from EU", seems nonsensical to ask whether it works [better] or not. Brexit is a simple fact: the UK has left the EU, is no longer a Member State, is now a third country. In that sense, the entire question feels misplaced, even pointless.
Jan 25 • 8 tweets • 2 min read
Is Sunak correct to assert that the war in Ukraine has "nothing to do with Brexit"?
A few thoughts...
1) To be clear: responsibility for Putin's vile war on Ukraine lies with Putin & his cronies. To blame Brexit for that war would be as stupid and offensive as (say) those sick-minded Brexitists who were quick to blame the "evil EU" for "provoking poor Putin" into "self-defence"
Jun 29, 2022 • 10 tweets • 2 min read
Spent today looking again at UK’s Bill to destroy NI Protocol, in breach of international law. For those interested in the details, some further comments in this short thread:
1) to reiterate: UK is launching direct assault on fundamental provisions designed to avoid hard border between IRL/NI by shifting checks to NI/GB instead. Bill would directly dismantle core Protocol rules on customs, movement, regulation, state aid, cooperation, enforcement etc
Jun 27, 2022 • 10 tweets • 2 min read
Back from idyll of holidaying in Perigord, I've now forced myself to catch up on UK’s Northern Ireland Protocol Bill. Short thread with some critical thoughts (few should come as any surprise, but it’s useful to add one’s voice to the existing consensus of expert opinion):
1) Contrary to Liar Johnson’s claims, this Bill is not trivial, technical tinkering. It amounts to a direct & far-reaching attack on fundamental parts of the Protocol on IRL/NI – seeking to rip up much of UK’s obligations & leave entire border system in tatters
May 12, 2022 • 4 tweets • 1 min read
"Braverman said the EU was undermining the Good Friday agreement by creating a trade barrier in the Irish Sea".
- proposed that trade barrier
- won general election with his "great Brexit deal"
- signed it under international law
- passed it through Parliament
"Braverman has advised that [overriding Protocol] would be legal because [EU approach] was disproportionate and unreasonable"
EU asks UK to respect its own *clear & unambiguous* treaty rules. UK's initial bad faith, or later regrets, can't make something "legal".
May 10, 2022 • 4 tweets • 1 min read
DUP demanded but were denied formal veto over application of Protocol. Their tantrums are designed to destroy a system they cannot dictate over. If Truss acquiesces, for sake of her own vain ambition, I hope EU & US teach UK a hard lesson in respect for law, peace, trust, honour.
Will Truss have credible alternative to avoid hard border across Ireland, to replace Protocol she supported then destroys? Of course not. Tories hope EU & IRL will just sacrifice own territorial integrity for sake of Brexit. Painfully wrong. Johnson Regime risks disaster upon NI.
May 7, 2022 • 5 tweets • 1 min read
It's beyond frustrating that the DUP seem determined to inflict a state of perpetual manufactured crisis upon NI. The Protocol is the fruit of their own machinations: they defied NI's will on Brexit & cynically plotted with English nationalists against NI's own interests. Yet...
... it's also frustrating to hear so many outside voices hype up talk of border polls & Irish reunification. Lots well-meaning; some seeing NI as a proxy to "punish" England for its Brexit madness; others using NI to stoke fears about "UK under threat" to help bolster Johnson...
Apr 24, 2022 • 5 tweets • 1 min read
Mind you, today = also a good reminder: there is no idiot greater than the self-declared thorough-bred "socialist", so consumed with hostility towards anyone not quite so pure in leftist spirit, they'd rather see Le Pen in power than Macron. Or Johnson before Starmer. Jesus wept.
Some interesting responses to this one. And in reply, a few added observations from me.
1) if you think anyone who doesn't agree with your own version of "left", or who didn't support Corbyn, must therefore be a "centrist" or "right wing", you're only proving my point. Merci.
Mar 12, 2022 • 7 tweets • 2 min read
One must admire, albeit with held-nose, the capacity of hard rightists to contort every situation to their own worldview - no matter how jumbled, contradictory or divorced from reality. Here are a few things I "learned" today:
1) it's quite easy to morph from Putin-the-Strongman worshipper into Putin-the-Victim apologist. Trying to convert to anti-Putinism is trickier: wot, you mean... allying with, rather than bashing, all those lefties and liberals that actually make up "the West"?!?!
Feb 2, 2022 • 4 tweets • 1 min read
We usually assume that these never-ending scandals must be a "bad thing" for the neo-Tories. Certainly, they seem not to understand / care about the depths of contempt their behaviour inspires across a large part of the population. But things aren't necessarily so clear cut...
First & less important: a bloated narcissist on the monstrous scale occupied by Johnson must be simply thrilled that the UK's entire national life, attention and debate is dominated by stories about him. He's not in power for us or for the country. Just to hear his own name.
Jan 31, 2022 • 14 tweets • 3 min read
Easy, today of all days, to let other important developments slip by without critical attention they deserve. But let’s not underestimate serious threats contained in Johnson’s “Brexit Freedoms Bill”. A short thread, starting with his usual lies, then highlighting 2 key threats:
1) we can take it for granted that this announcement is shrouded in the same deceptions and distortions as every other initiative from Johnson’s Regime. E.g. we’re told many EU rules carried over into UK law upon withdrawal are completely lacking in any democratic legitimacy...
Dec 14, 2021 • 7 tweets • 2 min read
Why do I regard the Johnson Government as a direct and serious threat to UK democracy, hope that the opposition parties will find sufficient common ground to work together, and use that joint momentum to reconstitute UK democracy on a much more solid footing? In a nutshell:
This regime used systematic dishonesty to win a general election. With a minority of votes cast, they win a huge parliamentary majority. Which confers vast power. Constrained primarily by "gentlemen's rules". That are next-to-useless against those without any moral scruples...
Nov 5, 2021 • 22 tweets • 4 min read
Let’s assume Johnson Regime is now actively preparing to invoke Art 16 of Protocol on IRL/NI, by adopting “safeguard measures” likely leading to unilateral disregard of agreed rules on GB-NI trade. What comes next? Short(ish, er OK, not very) thread with few thoughts:
1) Set against criteria for invoking Art 16, UK case will inevitably look weak. To start: we don’t know what “life under Protocol” really looks like, because UK has never properly applied it. A party that has consistently refused to comply with legal obligations under Protocol...
Nov 1, 2021 • 7 tweets • 2 min read
Greetings from Belfast. Where I've just been reading David Frost's latest attempts to embitter community relations in NI, and destabilise the GFA, in cynical pursuit of Johnson Regime's broader English nationalist vendetta against the EU. Short thread with some comments:
1) Frost continues to rewrite history with grotesque abandon. Having claimed for months poor HMG was bullied into Protocol by evil EU, aided by treacherous MPs & their "Surrender Act", now blame clock has gone back further: it was all May's fault for signing Dec 2017 Joint Report