David Davis’s bland assurances on an open border reveal only poverty of thinking. Where is the cunning plan?

In his flying visit to Belfast yesterday, the Brexit Secretary David Davis failed to square the circle of pledging to keep an open border and controlling immigration. He seemed to equate an open border with the common travel area which of course predates EU membership. But they are not the same thing. In the old days international non-Irish immigration barely existed. The border was also a tariff wall of varying heights from 1923 onwards.

While the DUP’s verdict on Arlene Foster’s talk with Davis was limited to a taciturn  “useful”, Mairtin O Muilleoir’s reaction on behalf from Sinn Fein was typically  assertive and uncompromising.

“It’s my resolve and conviction that we will ensure that the Irish government and the British government get together to make sure that we are not dragged out of Europe,” he said. That we remain at the heart of Europe and it is up to him (Mr Davis) to square that particular circle. But, the majority of people here voted to stay and that vote to remain should be respected.”

Logically at least this means Sinn Fein like the SNP refuses to recognise the legitimacy of the UK-wide application of the referendum vote and the unreality of turning  the Remain results in both jurisdictions  into retrospective vetoes on Brexit.  We know that Nicola Sturgeon has a potentially viable but still very tricky way out – Scottish independence. But pinning your hopes on a new drive for Irish unity on the basis of the local Remain majority is a very long shot indeed.  For now Sinn Fein’s uncompromising position puts pressure on everyone else – the British, the Irish, the EU – and deflects it from themselves.  This is in the Sinn Fein tradition of imagining a non-existent reality in the hope that it comes about. To be fair, it has often worked.  By contrast, the SDLP are pinning their hopes on legal challenge.    

 LATER Guardian commentator Martin Kettle fears the trend of emerging UK policy.

It is naive to imagine May either wants to or could deliver continued freedom of movement in the aftermath of the Brexit vote. The Brexit vote was many things, but at its heart it was a revolt against migration, both real and imagined. Others may be in denial about this, but the prime minister certainly is not.

It therefore follows that Britain has not got a hope in hell of negotiating a deal that keeps the country in the single market after Brexit. Freedom of movement is not a detail, to be casually set aside. And if the UK is determined to end freedom of movement, it also follows that UK access to the single market will be very limited.

Not enough people have grasped this yet

In its determination to maintain the City of London’s global position outside the single market, the Treasury will find itself inexorably drawn down the road towards remaking the UK as an offshore, low-tax financial haven. Just at the very moment when the EU locks horns with Apple over sweetheart tax deals, so Britain may roll out the welcome mat to international corporations such as Apple, offering Britain as the new Ireland, or as a European Singapore.

It is hard to see how these options can be reconciled with Irish interests north or south. The border would inhibit free movement, free trade would at best be qualified and a rampant City of London could devastate Irish financial services and obliterate the surviving tax advantages. With EU subsidies in decline, might Ireland begin to think the thinkable and chose the UK along with a floating punt and links to the single market over an integrating Europe?   Or would the debt burden keep them hooked to the euro?

There’s no doubt that the Force is strongly with scepticism towards British thinking so far.  The reaction to Davis’s visit was scathing from Ireland’s most eminent international office holder, Peter Sutherland.


“I am absolutely mystified, not for the first time in this debate, about what is coming out of London,” he said. “We have been told by a number of Conservative Party spokespeople that Britain will leave the common customs area of the EU. If this is true, the customs union, which relates to sharing a common external tariff of the EU, will have to be maintained by all other EU countries with the UK following its withdrawal. Goods will have to be checked at borders.

“I would be very fearful that they may be heading towards a negotiation that will require a hard Border between north and south in Ireland. Dismissing this as a prospect at this stage is ridiculous.”

In the wake of the Chequers meeting Nicola Sturgeon discerns no magic bullet coming out of London that would rob her of the initiative. A new “national conversation” on independence ratchets up the pressure for independence another couple of notches. But as Nicola Bell of Edinburgh University explains in a post carried by the Centre on Constitutional Change the choice is even more daunting than in 2014.  What it boils down to is continuing UK or a hard border between Scotland and England.

.. It is unlikely that the independence vision presented in 2014 would be a viable option. Then, the Scottish Government’s White Paper, Scotland’s Future, set out a form of independence that maintained institutional, economic, cultural and inter-governmental connections with the rest of the UK. The proposed currency union received most attention, but the plan also included a common British Isles travel area, a strategic energy partnership, defence and security co-operation, a common research area and cross-border public bodies. It is unlikely that this depth of partnership would be compatible with Scottish EU membership once the rest of the UK leaves.

Scotland’s likely position within the EU would also come under scrutiny. A future Scottish Government seeking to negotiate EU membership within the context of ongoing or recent negotiations on the UK’s withdrawal could face stricter terms, for example, in relation to the single currency, the budget or compliance with fiscal rules. The weakening of the economy in the wake of Bruit, as well as the collapse of the price of oil, also makes the economic outlook even less favourable than it was in 2014.

These challenges and complexities can be expected to emerge within any independence referendum campaign, and may dampen the enthusiasm of some Remainders. It’s worth noting that those voting Remain in 2016, also disproportionately voted for Scotland to remain within the United Kingdom. It’s not clear from this vantage point which union is most important to them. Conversely, some demographic characteristics (excluding age) of those who voted Yes to Scottish independence in 2014, conform more closely to Leave voters than Remain voters. Their continued commitment to independence can’t be taken for granted.

And yet, Brexit does represent – in the First Minister’s words – a material change of circumstances, not just in its effect but also in the manner of the victory and the direction of travel it seems to chart for the future of British politics. The mood shift within Scotland is tangible. Brexit has given rise to a period of sober reflection where only Conservatives seem unwilling to consider all constitutional options for keeping Scotland in the EU, even if the SNP and the Greens remain the only parties to champion independence

The choice for both parts of Ireland is being presented as softer but with no real idea so far how to achieve it.   The Financial Times (£) had a go recently but even they retired hurt. For example..

Northern Ireland would have to apply EU rules so completely that it could retain its status within the customs union while the other parts of the UK leave.

“If European single market regulations, such as product market standards, apply to Northern Ireland…then there may be no border between Northern Ireland and the Republic,” he said.

There is only one catch: the frontier of the customs union would then shift to the province’s air and maritime borders with mainland Britain, meaning “border checks in ports and airports” for travellers seeking to cross the Irish Sea. Ms May’s practical solution looks hard to find.

The ” catch” is unacceptable to the DUP. No wonder that once again, Arlene is keeping shtum.






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  • Roger

    Your first sentence contradicts your second. Your first speaks of “arrangements when it comes to EU membership”. Your second sentence is more sensible and accepts that clearly there is no question of any kind of EU membership for any part of the UK post Brexit. Certainly agree that leaders in UKNI ought to be exploring all sorts of mitigating arrangements.

  • Roger

    As regards citizenship, that was exactly the same before and after the GFA….Ireland has and had generous citizenship laws. It’s not that particularly generous of the UK to confer citizenship on persons born in its own state….I’d say that’s par for the course for most countries.

  • Roger

    Oh yes, it’s clearly up in the air and these times are unique….there might be a united Ireland next year….the falling nationalist vote over recent decades and the opinion polls on Irish unity don’t really point to anything really now do they. We might be on the brink of reunification….
    I wouldn’t really agree with your last sentence either. It’s clearly up to the peoples of Ireland and Northern Ireland if they want to go down the unity line. There is no people of Ireland singular in this context.

  • Roger

    I’d rather enjoy the show if they did…Nationalists ought to be shouting it all loudly.

  • Roger

    And there’s silly me thinking you were referring to India and its voting rights at the UN…

  • Roger

    So can Scotland if Ireland is up for accepting it into a Celtic union of sorts….Sturgeon could raise this with Kenny.

  • Roger

    It would not be a new country. Ireland would continue on as before, just larger.
    The Federal Republic of Germany doesn’t date back to 1990 either.
    Though you are of course correct that Ireland would have to consent to accept a secession of Northern Ireland from the UK.

  • Roger

    No Ireland wouldn’t. EU law does not lay down rules to the effect that member states cannot accept the cession of territory. Ireland would not be a new country and its membership in the EU would not be questioned. Transitional arrangements for how EU law would apply to Ireland’s new territory might be needed…

  • Roger

    Fact check: SF has never in fact endorsed the GFA.

  • Roger

    If Scotland wants in the EU, hard borders might be required…if UK isn’t in EU customs union.

  • NotNowJohnny

    I’m not sure where you are going with this. Are you suggesting that SF didn’t endorse the consent principle contained in the GFA as part of the agreement reached in the multi party talks? If you’re not, then what’s your point here?

  • NotNowJohnny

    I don’t see the contradiction I’m afraid. Perhaps you just didn’t explain it very well.

  • Thomas Barber

    Yes there is a falling nationalist vote but they are not either leaving the country or disappearing into thin air they still are where they’ve always been the only difference being they no longer feel theres any point in engaging in British politics. As regards your last point Roger I say tomato you say tomatoe, its the difference between an Irish person and a British person when it comes to the definition of all of the people of the Island of Ireland

  • Roger

    Are you sure they’re not disappearing? A Rory McIlroy generation rising? Is there any evidence they’re just not voting. I don’t know the answer to that one.
    I don’t think you get the last point I made. There are two jurisdictions. So it’s rather silly to say it’s up to the people (singular) of one place. Delusional? What was called the unionist veto by many is now accepted as the principle of consent.

  • Roger

    To spell it iut again: SF never endorsed the agreement reached at multi-party talks (loosely called the GFA) in Belfast in 1998.

  • Thomas Barber

    Have you any evidence of a rising Rory McIlroy generation as its not being reflected at the poll booths. You can dance around a pinhead all you like Roger but you cannot change the fact that constitutional change on matters relating to unity can only be decided by all of the people of the Island of Ireland its delusional to believe the people in the British governed part of Ireland are not of the Island of Ireland especially when the British government have already accepted that people born in those British controlled 6 counties of Ireland are Irish but they can choose to be British citizens as long as those six counties remain part of the UK.

  • Roger

    “as its not being reflected at the poll booths”…doesn’t the declining Nationalist vote reflect it? I just go by the election results. They suggest a gradual decline in the number of nationalists. You’ve said that’s not so and they are just staying at home more than before…I’ve asked for any evidence of that. I’d be genuinely interested to learn about it if that’s true. In its absence, I can only go by the polls themselves, which suggest fewer people in UKNI are Nationalists. If you know of any data to the contrary, please do share it with us.
    The other point is a bit less interesting. I’m sure you’re fully aware that there’s two jurisdictions now across the former Ireland. Two sets of consents required; two peoples etc. To talk of a single geographic landmass making a single decision is a bit silly as well know that’s not on the cards. It was something a great many Nationalists campaigned for. Remember what was called the nasty Unionist veto (now rebranded the principle of consent)? Maybe it should have been granted. But it’s off the cards now.

  • Thomas Barber

    Im just going by the election results too Roger and it doesn’t show any increase in Nationalist support for either unionist parties or the union and those nationalists who once voted but do not now have not disappeared off the face of the earth. I am one of those nationalists who refuses to engage in British politics just like the rest of my family and I know many many others who are of the same opinion as myself, perhaps you could prove your assumptions that the drop in nationalist vote is due to fewer people defining themselves as nationalists.

    Yes their are two jurisdictions on this island but that doesn’t change the fact that its up to all of the people on the island of Ireland to bring about constitutional change. You claim there are two different peoples buts thats not true is it. its a fact that all people born on the island of Ireland to parents born on the island of Ireland are Irish and in the British controlled part they are Irish until they choose otherwise and even then although they may choose to claim British citizenship they are nonetheless still considered Irish by the Irish nation.

  • Roger

    “it doesn’t show any increase in Nationalist support for either unionist parties…”…Maybe that’s because Nationalists would hardly vote for unionists?
    “fewer people defining themselves as Nationalist”. Yes exactly. Presumably that’s a major reason why the Nationalist vote fell a whopping 5 per cent at the last election. I’ve got no other ‘proof’ than fewer people voting Nationalist…That’s all I have. That’s the basic proof. It’s like in the UK if Labour lost last time around, it might be because there were fewer Labour voters etc. I think the burden is on you; not me. You’re theorising that it’s something other than the obvious (decline in support for Nationalism).
    I don’t think it makes sense to go over nationality laws again, whatever that has to do with anything.

  • Reader

    Thomas, Brexit does not pull the UK out of the ECHR. It just doesn’t. May wasn’t even a Brexiter, and she knows well enough that she would have an uphill struggle to get parliament to agree to leave the ECHR.
    In fact – a mistake on your part I suspect – the Independent link you provided points out that it isn’t on the timetable and explains why it probably can’t happen.
    As my grandma might have said – you’re squealing before you’re bitten.
    But fair enough: after Brexit, if May comes back with her ECHR plan, you can wave the GFA around then. OK? I expect there will be an exception for Northern Ireland anyway.

  • Reader

    Thomas Barber: The people of Northern Ireland can.
    Not so. You seem to have a copy of the GFA to hand this week – check it out and you can see that it is the Secretary of State who can call a referendum. This year, that’s some bloke called Brokenshire.

  • Reader

    Kevin Breslin: The fact the English want hard borders if the Scots choose independence would infer that they are the bigger partitionists.
    Nope, “The English” don’t want hard borders. The only political party on these islands that actually wants hard borders is Sinn Fein, and even that’s just tactical.
    You want soft borders; I want soft borders; Nicola Sturgeon wants soft borders, Theresa May wants soft borders, Arlene Foster wants soft borders, Enda Kenny wants soft borders.
    The *only* problem is the EU. They are your pals – you get to work on them.

  • Kevin Breslin

    So English politicans did not threaten Scotland with hard border when both were assumed to be in the EU for the foreseeable future? Erm actually they did?

    Are there hard borders between Norway and Switzerland and the EU, no there is not.

    The problem is a fair proportion of the English want to control the Irish border, and the passage between Ireland and Britain. Loyalists side with the arguement.

    There is nothing the EU can do to stop the UK imposing as hard a border as it wants, only the Republic of Ireland would have a legal right to stop British border control entering its territory.

    The English have to make it clear what border they actually want to control, theirs or ours.

    Sinn Féin are among a number of groups who can see the obvious here, that the English will use deniability for its imposition of migration controls within the island of Ireland by blaming the EU (yet again) for the bad consequences of its autonomous actions.

    If there is a hard border, when there isn’t one in Switzerland and Norway, it will not be because of the European Union, it’s because a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic or between Britain and Ireland would be a popular decision in England, and it would win votes for the Conservative Party.

    Not Sinn Féin, Ireland or the EU, but slavery to the zeitgeist of xenophobic anti-imigration mentality and the populism of hard borders.

    I would find it a “disgraceful abdication of responsibility” for all the bad consequences of all the UK’s autonomous decisions shouldn’t be owned but blamed on the EU.

    Why should the rest of the world follow Britain’s orders and desires when there’s no clear will to reciprocate. Let the UK reap what it sews here.

    UK voted to control their affairs, but the minute the risks of Brexit don’t seem to be paying off, the old habit of blaming the EU for not putting Britain First emerge, when really it’s (some) Brexiters putting Britain Second after themselves.

    I say some because I’ll give credit to Boris for highlighting some painful home truths.


  • terence patrick hewett

    In the land of the blind the one eyed man is king. A stitch in time spoils the ship for a ha’porth of fly in the ointment!!!

  • Thomas Barber

    Reader im quite happy with a Brexit to be honest Im also hoping a hard border will be imposed as it will be imposed, (regardless who by) against the wishes of the overwhelming majority of the people who live on the island of Ireland. Being an Irish Republican I believe it changes the political landscape in a way that will refocus Irish mindsets and im absolutely sure that injustice alone will light the spark that will bring about an end to partition in Ireland.

  • NotNowJohnny

    There’s little point in spelling it out again when I clearly read it the first time. I can only quote what SF states on its own website:

    “…… Sinn Féin backs the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, which the party reached with the other northern parties and the Irish and British governments following multi-party negotiations in Belfast. These negotiations arose from the Irish Peace Process, itself initiated in discussions begun several years ago.”

    Rather than simple repeating what you said previously (as I said, I read what you wrote the first time) perhaps you can explain what Sinn Fein means by its statement.

  • terence patrick hewett

    Mae bys Meri-Ann wedi brifo,
    A Dafydd y gwas ddim yn iach.
    Mae’r baban yn y crud yn crio,
    A’r gath wedi sgrapo Joni bach.
    Sosban fach yn berwi ar y tân,
    Sosban fawr yn berwi ar y llawr,
    A’r gath wedi sgrapo Joni bach.

    Dai bach y sowldiwr,
    Dai bach y sowldiwr,
    Dai bach y sowldiwr,
    A chwt ei grys e mas.

    Mae bys Meri-Ann wedi gwella,
    A Dafydd y gwas yn ei fedd;
    Mae’r baban yn y crud wedi tyfu,
    A’r gath wedi huno mewn hedd.
    Sosban fach yn berwi ar y tân
    Sosban fawr yn berwi ar y llawr
    A’r gath wedi huno mewn hedd.

    Dai bach y sowldiwr,
    Dai bach y sowldiwr,
    Dai bach y sowldiwr,
    A chwt ei grys e mas.

    Aeth hen Fari Jones i Ffair y Caerau
    I brynu set o lestri de;
    Ond mynd i’r ffos aeth Mari gyda’i llestri
    Trwy yfed gormod lawer iawn o “de”
    Sosban fach yn berwi ar y tân
    Sosban fawr yn berwi ar y llawr
    A’r gath wedi huno mewn hedd.

    Or to reiterate H C Bosman:

    “Whenever my grandfather told this story” Jurie Steyn said, “he would laugh so much that he would slap the top part of his leg, laughing.” But there was one side of the story of the farm that my grandfather sold for fifty pounds more than he paid for it that my grandfather never used to lay stress on, that you would notice. And I only understood that side of it properly when I went on a journey to the Highveld, to go and have a look at that old farm again. And I had great difficulty in finding it, seeing that everything about it had changed so much. They had even changed the name of the old farm. They now called it Benoni. There was a mine-head gear where the stable had been.

    “And I have often thought since then of how that visitor from the city, must have laughed when he told his side of the story – how he must have slapped the top part of his leg, I mean, laughing.”

    “And it doesn’t seem to me as though it’s the shreds of the strangers frock-coat hanging on the barbed–wire fence. It’s like my grandfathers own clothes hanging there, blowing in the wind”

  • grumpy oul man

    But it is different, firstly as far as i know Britain has signed a international treaty agreeing that the National status is up for grabs when the majority wishes it.
    Scotland or Wales do not have dual nationality, Are any Cabinet ministers in Scotland or Wales holding a non British passport and does any other country have a agreed involvement in the internal affairs of Scotland or Wales.
    NI (the UKNI thing is a bit silly and very clumsy)is different from Scotland and wales, sorry but that’s the way it is.

  • grumpy oul man

    This is very true, what way will things go from a republican/nationalist perspective the worst that can happen is no change, Will ROI set a hardish border at its points of access to Europe, will the British and Irish make a deal which puts the hardish Border on the Britain of will some sort of Border be placed between NI and the republic, I don’t think the last is the most likely.

  • grumpy oul man

    Yes but that was designed to operate under the rules in force (EU agreements) when the GFA was signed, it seem that framework will change.
    Freedom of movement in Ireland will be hard to square with Britain restricting free movement of people, a whole new deal will be needed.

  • grumpy oul man

    Wouldn’t be depending on MUs legal skills,
    to be honest any time hes made a claim about the law he has been proved to be wrong!

  • NotNowJohnny

    That seems a fair point and a failure on their part. Perhaps they did or perhaps the SNP saw the potential opportunity of the U.K. voting to leave the EU as a great way of boosting the case for Scottish independence. It still doesn’t excuse SFs negligence in trying to negotiate as many safeguards as possible to prevent the border becoming less invisible. They are elected to represent the interests of Irish people at Westminster afterall. It’s no good being wise after the event.

  • Roger

    Austen Morgan, Belfast Agreement: A practical legal analysis. Pg x. ‘The Chairman asked if there were any amendments to the multi-party agreement…SF stated that it had a number of concerns, which were annexed to the summary record of the session…Senator Mitchell then proceeded to a vote on the final agreement…SF stated that it would not be voting…(SF) said ‘it would let the chairman know the outcome of its deliberations in due course’. The SF ard comhairle proposed two resolutions: the first amending the party’s constitution, to allow successful candidates to take their seats in the Northern Ireland assembly; the second calling for ‘yes’ votes in the 22 May referendums. Sinn Fein continued to oppose the central concept of consent in the Belfast Agreement.”

    I probably don’t put as much onus on claims made on websites as you do. I tend to accord more weight to a source like this.

  • Roger

    Staying only on the point, sure there’s differences. But Scotland’s status is just as much up for grabs (more so, realistically) than UKNI’s and Scotland isn’t event the subject of an international treaty. Passports don’t enter into it.

  • grumpy oul man

    But yes they do. NI status is part of a International agreement with the ROI, Scotland isn’t, The Roi has a internationally agreed role in NI, no other country has such a arrangement over Scotland.
    Sorry no matter how much you dislike it NI is not the same as Finchly, Wales or Scotland.

  • grumpy oul man

    And anybody born in NI is British until they chose otherwise.
    i may not be over the moon about it but the system works both ways in the north.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Westminster is becoming more and more like Stormont everyday. They’ve even got their own “unionists” and “nationalists” in government doing solo runs on one another.


  • NotNowJohnny

    Now you are explaining your position better. While obviously I don’t dispute what you write, there is no question that SF is signed up to the GFA. Whatever may have happened at the time their behaviour since demonstrates their position. One doesn’t have to re,y in a website for that. Of course they may not like the consent principle just as many unionists didn’t like the provisions of the GFA relating to prisoners. But when you sign up to the GFA you signed up to it, warts and all.

  • Roger

    Not sure what part of my response was unclear or Mr Mogan’s analysis. They haven’t ‘signed up’. They told the Chairman they’d let him know the outcome of their deliberations. I’m not sure if they ever did so formally. I don’t think so but they’ve never accepted the principle of consent / unionist veto / GFA.

  • Reader

    Kevin Breslin: So English politicans did not threaten Scotland with hard border when both were assumed to be in the EU for the foreseeable future? Erm actually they did?
    So – nothing to do with Brexit, then. Actually, just the 2014 version of Project Fear.
    Now it’s 2016 and here you are with the 2016 version of Project Fear.
    Anyway, the rest of your post is clear enough. If the EU puts up tariff barriers against UK goods, you will blame the English. If the EU builds customs posts on the Irish side of the border, you will blame the English. If the EU builds customs posts on the Scottish side of the border, you will blame the English. If the weather is a bit wet… no, wait, you haven’t gone there yet.

  • Kevin Breslin

    The 2016 version of Project Fear indicates the fact that a hard border is a threat that some English politicians are willing to make. If Scottish Nationalists have done the same, I would assume they are a minority of Scottish nationalist politicians as well.

    This willingness for brinkmanship before diplomacy and negotiation can equally be as harmful dealing with the necessary terms of working

    I suggest you consider your own Europhobia before laying into any Anglophobia on my part.

    If the EU puts up tariff barriers against UK goods, you will blame the Europeans for not agreeing with the British ultimatums.

    If the EU builds customs posts on the Irish side of the border, you will blame the Europeans for not agreeing with the British ultimatums.

    If the EU builds customs posts on the Scottish side of the border, you will blame the the Europeans for not agreeing with the British ultimatums.

    No question of equal responsibility for such a problem, it’s the Europeans fault.

    Correct me if I’m wrong here?

    For 70 years the UK and the Republic of Ireland were unable to agree customs agreement with one another before the European Union. Pretty much the same with other nations.

    The mature thing is to accept collective responsibility, the immature thing would be to blame the Europeans.

    I praise the European Union for 20 years of Customs Free Trade across the island of Ireland, and between Ireland and Britain and both and the continent

    Something pro-Brexit supporters trivialized as some miracle of British free trade policy that would’ve happened anyway.

    If the Republic of Ireland and Scotland wanted Independence but have their internal and external customs controlled entirely by English politicians in Westminster without even a bilateral or trilateral treaty, why would they opt for Independence in the first place?

    That wouldn’t be a customs union, it’d be customs rules set out by Westminster and customs affairs surrendered to Westminster by the other states not a third party.

    History shows if the UK want to be “too proud”, the Irish and the rest of Europe can be “too proud” too. It’s a zero sum game.

    The UK voted to be treated like Switzerland and Norway as a Third Nation, they should face the consequences of being a third nation and stop the xenophobic accusations at other nations for refusing to capitulate to its own extortionist brinkmanship terms.

    I would be willing to accept a rational Norway-Sweden Swiss-Austrian like border arrangement would be better for everyone involved, than some “Vote Leave promise” that EU is going to get free trade on UK terms for otherwise unconditional removal of all the trade control the EU nations have over their own internal markets, while like a Vote Leave promise the UK can betray them the next day and guillotine the whole effort.

    I’d rather have a treaty of these “off the shelf stalemates” than have alcoholic UK Brexiters, and reactionary EU and Irish politicians deciding they want to start a pointless penis measuring contest over trade for their emotional entitlements.

    If the European Union is able to stand up to Russia, China and the United States, the idea that it is simply going to capitulate over fears it’d be put in some type of Blame Game if it doesn’t put the needs of 64 million non-EU citizens before the needs of 440 EU citizens, is utter ridiculous.

    As far as I am concerned the UK is not going to replicate the ease of trade with other countries on its terms alone. If it wants to destroy alliances for the sake of national pride, then it should not complain when it reaps what it sews.

    There are 27 proud nations in the European Union after all.

    The UK should get what it deserves, not what it desires, just like everybody else in this. It should stop blaming, take responsibility for creating isolation if it wants it, or take responsibility for the trust that it has put into a trade AGREEMENT

    I’d rather in 2 years praise the UK for taking responsibility for making a difficult decision, rather than blaming the EU for why the weather is poor, refugees in Turkey, war in Ukraine, workers in factories not speaking English, phantom migrant syndrome, phantom refugee syndrome, low English wages, the metric system, the lack of dodgy electronic goods, the collapse of British steel, the Northern Irish peace process, not having £350 million a week to spend on the NHS, “uncontrolled migration” … blah, blah, blah.

  • Jollyraj

    Has he? Any examples of that, or are you happy just to raise the doubt and scurry off?

  • grumpy oul man

    was hoping you would ask!
    Yep he threatened Libel because someone pointed out a thing about him he didn’t like, when challenged about this, it was pointed out that the least of his problems with this was that you cannot libel a person whose identity is unknown, (assuming his real name is not MU) he claimed a Cambridge Masters in law as his authority but backed down when it was pointed out that his argument had absolutely no standing in law and was laughable (so much so that it seriously brings into doubt any knowledge of the law) .
    so yeah i have some proof and more than a little reason to doubt any legal training.

  • Jollyraj

    Perhaps he didn’t specialize in libel law. I’ve got a friend who is an optician – he doesn’t know much about healing broken bones.

    My understanding – and I’m no legal man – was that you can sue if your username is libelled and it is known to others that that username is yours. Would be difficult to prove they had known in advance of the libel, though, rather than you telling them after the fact – you’d then be libelling yourself. Then, of course, if you sue someone who cannot pay the penalty good luck cashing the cheque.

    As I say, I’m no expert, but if you’re basing his alleged lack of legal knowledge on his not having sued, I think you are on a flimsy raft.

    A lot of people don’t sue for libel, for all kinds of reasons. Many people, for instance, have accused Gerry Adams of very serious crimes. He never sued.

  • NotNowJohnny

    I think I covered this in my response. And I didn’t suggest any lack of clarity in your response. In fact I even commented on the fact that you had explained yourself better.

  • Reader

    Kevin Breslin: If the EU puts up tariff barriers against UK goods, you will blame the Europeans for not agreeing with the British ultimatums.
    You keep using that word “ultimatum” – what do you mean by it? The British will certainly say – “We ought to have Free Trade, as this will in the best interests of the UK and of the constituent countries of the EU”
    And the EU will reply:
    1) Yes, good idea. OR
    2) Damn the constituent countries – it is in the interests of the EU entity that the UK should be punished for desertion by having EU tariffs applied to its exports.
    How could you possibly blame any entity other than the EU for option 2?
    Your argument is based on the assumption that the EU countries are being asked to make some sort of sacrifice by the UK. Your posts get longer and longer, but you still haven’t articulated what the sacrifice actually is, what the ultimatum actually is, nor have you articulated why a Free Trade deal isn’t in everyone’s best interests – you just have all those as axioms.

  • grumpy oul man

    Maybe he doesn’t specialize in libel law but that is not specializing that is being completely ignorant of the law.
    Your optician may not be able to deal with broken bones but would know that bones can be broken.
    I am being generous proposing that MU is ignorant of the law,
    the alternative is that he deliberately attempted to mislead a poster with the intention of silencing him by idle threats of a court case.
    I will let you decide which is true.

  • grumpy oul man

    Not really, go see a lawyer and ask him.
    BTW, your optician friend would i hope be professional enough not to offer a opinion on a subject he knew nothing about.

  • Kevin Breslin

    It’s entirely the UK’s responsibility when its diplomacy, it’s begging and its brinkmanship fail. Your entire arguement seems centred around that if the EU and the rest of the world reject the UK’s “interpretation of free trade” that it is entirely the rest of the world’s fault.

    Every nation in the world will make its own interpretation of the balance between free trade and protectionism. I don’t see the choice the EU decides to make as punishing the UK, just a judgement call based on whatever bona fides the UK shows them.

    The U.K. like every other EU state has protectionist instincts, some of which helped to win the Brexit vote.

    Not one of the states are ultra protectionist not one of them is ultra free trade, it’s up to the EU and UK to find a healthy workable equilibrium, not some hairbrained economic experimental risk, that many of these nations including the UK have experimented and failed in,

    Ask the average proponent of “free trade” what more the UK government itself should sacrifice to ensure free trade in goods, services and capital to get deals will other countries and most will say Nothing.

    So by contrast the EU will calculate that it will give up nothing it has unless the UK agrees by treaty (none of this Vote Leave verbal contract nonsense) to do the same.

    If any of them were confident of being able to sell free trade on terms amenable to the UK pubic and EU public, there would be no shortage of trade negotiators.

    Reality: Shortage of Trade negotiators, Surplus of self appointed trade theoreticians.

    I think it’s only fair to judge the EU’s response to the UK, with due regard to its government’s actions not words.

    Those so estatic about British free trade pioneership are silent about the UK’s years in the EFTA with very little to show for it.

    The irony was as part of the European Free Trade Association an “independent” UK had free trade deals with next to no one. Not even the Republic of Ireland.

    Reality: Opinions are no substitute for work, otherwise we’d all be politicans and commentators.

    Not blaming Britain, but if its politicans and press keep passing responsibility for its mistakes onto others, it’ll end up letting others make all its decisions, even THEY wouldn’t want to make and then the future of Britain may be abysmal.

    Its population would sink into a depressing world of non-agency immersed in the selfpity displayed on The Daily Express and in Guido Fawkes forums, looking always for a thing to blame for its predicament.

  • Jollyraj

    “I will let you decide which is true.”

    Uhm..my feeling is that neither is true – is that an option?

  • Roger

    You’ve said (i) you obviously don’t dispute what I write (which via quoting Mr. Morgan was to clearly say SF are not signed up to the GFA); and (ii) SF is clearly signed up to the GFA. Intelligible?

  • Kevin Breslin

    The fact of the matter is no amount of political fiction you can make can abscond the UK from being held responsible for its failure to make a deal with the EU or any other nation.

    Remember if the UK was so able and capable of selling “free trade” to the world the reality of having 5 trade negotiators and having not done so as part of the EFTA would be outweighed by evidence showing the complete opposite picture.

    The events highlights the real facts, from the real fiction.

    The U.K. is one of the most protectionist countries on the planet when it comes to its special interests, only the USA engages in significantly more protectionism. To me the phrase is a political propaganda meme, for example many people in the UK would want free trade but will oppose TTIP even though it would ensure free trade.

    People think having some free trade deal means other nations will automatically make the effort to sell the UK more stuff, completely without the UK doing any more work whatsoever.

    That’s a nice bedtime story, but it isn’t real. That black market in unregulated goods only feeds criminals and terrorists money for profiteers none the wiser.

    And the nerve to say sacrifices are not made with free trade comes from vested interests who are so protected in the political establishment that the “free trade” part only applies to those who don’t have the political protections and undemocratic influences these old money parasites have.

    If there are no sacrifices in free trade why do people oppose pretty much every multinational trade deal, in virtually every developed country in the world?

    Why would it be the EU’s fault, if the British public reject the Tory trade deal it wants with the EU?

    The interest of the British public, is subject to “The Will of Ceasar is The Will of Rome”, where what politicans assume is the will of the public, but really their own biased desires determines what is good deal from “thin gruel”.

    The whole terms of free trade like the Vote Leave campaign seem to be based on lies and hypocrisy. A meme, a fiction, a false flag.

    Nothing’s going to be easy, I think once those enthusiastic about Brexit stop lying to themselves and stress out over the realpolitik, we’re going to see more resignations, more blaming the Europeans, and more absconding of power to Tories more sympathetic to the UK EU relationship.

  • grumpy oul man

    Of course it is. Your call ,i do admire your loyality, i will give him the benifit of the doubt in that he does not understand the law.
    The only other (logical)option is less pleasent.
    Asked a real lawyer yet or just making the call on the “we prods got to stick together principal”

  • Kevin Breslin
  • NotNowJohnny

    Not at all. Mr Morgan is referring to a point in time in 1998. Statement (ii) refers to now. Next thing you’ll be telling me that none of the parties currently operating both the executive under strand one and the north south ministerial council under strand two are signed up to the GFA.

  • Roger

    Mr. Morgan’s book stated the position as at 1 August 2000; a little over two years after the GFA was concluded. In those two years, SF had not reported back to the Chairman its support of the GFA. If you think it ever did, do please share your source with me. Mr. Morgan’s writings show that the GFA was concluded without the endorsement of SF. More importantly, Mr. Morgan’s writings also point out that as at 1 August 2000, SF had not endorsed the principle that it is for the peoples of Northern Ireland and of Ireland to separately decide in their respective jurisdictions on the question of a united Ireland. Insofar as that position relates to Northern Ireland, it’s called the ‘principle of consent’ or, less often these days, the ‘Unionist veto’. That principle/veto is at the very core of the GFA as Mr. Morgan correctly, in most people’s view, points out. Do you disagree with him? If you have reason to believe that SF has since endorsed and accepts that principle/veto, I’d be genuinely interested to hear the reason and on what it is grounded. The line you’ve quoted from the SF website does not convince me that SF have made that U turn.

  • NotNowJohnny

    Ok I’ll change that. Mr. Morgan’s book refers to the position as at 1 August 2000. Statement (ii) refers to now.

    This is from Sinn Fein’s statement in 1999.

    “There is a collective duty on all of us who negotiated and endorsed the Good Friday Agreement to defend it and ensure its implementation. The two governments have a particular responsibility in their overseeing role, to ensure that the agreement is implemented in full and in the current context that onerous responsibility translates to this review.” (Source CAIN)

    As I’ve pointed out now previously, I believe SF is signed up to the GFA. The statement above clearly supports that view. And I can see nothing in its behaviour over the last few years that demonstrates that it isn’t signed up to the GFA and you have provided nothing whatsoever which indicates otherwise. However if you can provide some recent evidence which demonstrates the contrary, I’d be delighted to hear of it.

  • Roger

    Naah. It’s on you to show SF have endorsed the consent principle/veto.

  • NotNowJohnny

    It’s clear you don’t have the evidence.

    On my side so far we have the claim by SF on its own website, it’s unambiguous statement from 1999,, the indisputable evidence of SF implementing all 3 strands of the GFA over the last decade plus the recent numerous statements by the DFM for the SoS to invoke the provisions in the legislation relating to the border poll which would allow the people of the north to have an opportunity to give their consent to a UI in line with the GFA should they so desire.

    Meanwhile you have a couple of paragraphs in a book written sixteen years ago.

    I have no further questions or comments to make. I guess others can look at the evidence And make up their own minds.

  • Roger

    Yes, no doubt SF have done a U turn and now accept the principle of consent/Unionist veto and the legitimacy of British sovereignty in ‘the North’ as they call it. I must have just missed it. Remind me why SF don’t take their seats at Weatminster again? Maybe it’s a ‘green’ thing…less travel, smaller carbon footprint?