Could Blair’s analysis of Brexit offer a realistic way through the mess?

I’ve never been a Blair fan boy nor one of his haters. He left enough mess behind in NI to know not everything he’s done was perfect, but I do think it’s worth listening to his interview on the Today programme yesterday. In it he outlines a course of action that may not have seemed practical a few days ago (although it’s not a million miles from my own suggestion on Nolan earlier in the week). My scenario was predicated … Read more

“I can take the despair. It’s the hope I can’t stand.” Theresa May in Brussels? Answer. Worse: humiliation

What was Theresa May actually expecting  from the EU 27 leaders in Brussels? There was always the desperate hope for one of those last minute rush to settle against the declared odds. Instead… headlines… Daily Telegraph ( Brexiteer) Theresa May was humiliated once again by EU leaders last night as her attempts to improve her Brexit deal were thrown back in her face. The Sun (Brexiteer) and coiner of  dreadful puns BRUSSELS ROUT  Theresa May told to get stuffed by … Read more

Varadkar appeals to the Commons on Article 50…

Hmmm… A sudden change of tack from Dublin? *** NEW: Taoiseach appeals over head of Government directly to UK Parliament telling me on @skynews “it is within gift of Govt and UK Parliament to take the threat of No Deal off the table… by revoking Article 50 or seeking an extension of A50”. pic.twitter.com/Y1aTmDHKzt — Faisal Islam (@faisalislam) December 13, 2018

UPDATED: May survives Tory leadership vote by 200 to 117…

She may be safe tonight but the Brexit compromise is still to be resolved in parliament… – Laura Kuenssberg On Nolan this morning I pointed out that if there’s no majority for Mrs May’s agreement with the EU, it’s a dead letter. This is the end of the internal revolution, but unless she can get Labour MPs to put their hands up in large numbers, it’s hard to see it how it progresses with 117 Tories signalling they just don’t want it. … Read more

Micheál Martin: “The contagion of political chaos will not spread here from London…”

So far from the feverish speculation in Westminster today, there was a more minor key play taking place in Leinster House this afternoon in a session called “Dáil Statements on European Council”. Micheal Martin kicked off with a sobering assessment of the implications of the chaos in London, pointing out that “however good the deal is, a deal which will not or cannot be ratified ultimately becomes inoperable and worthless”. Whether or not the deal is ratified, and there is still … Read more

Leading Northern Irish voices join support of ‘Stansted 15’ protestors

“It must be recalled that this is all taking place against the background of an inhumane immigration policy that is acknowledged to be openly hostile.” Leading Northern Irish politicians, human rights groups, academics, journalists and activists have expressed their “deep concern and disagreement” with Monday’s ruling against fifteen human rights activists who “acted to stop a brutal, secretive and barely legal deportation flight” at Stansted airport in March 2017. Known as the ‘Stansted 15’, they have been convicted of ‘endangering an aerodrome’ under the … Read more

What should Theresa May do now? Stop fudging and pledge to stay in the customs union

  Tonight if she wins by whatever margin, Theresa May should declare a victory and press on. No messing with hints that she’ll quit voluntarily in March next year. She needs more than reassurances from the EU that the backstop is dispensable. The huge question is, what can replace it? She should accept the challenge of the core Brexiteers and pledge that the UK will remain the customs union indefinitely. Under the looming shadow of No Deal,  she should go … Read more

No sign of Ireland blinking over the backstop, as Theresa May races around Europe raising the bogey of No Deal

Theresa May  at bay  threw down one effective challenge to  the massed ranks of her critics. “Come clean: do you want Brexit or not? “No”, chorused the SNP and she rolled her eyes. For as long as  Parliament cannot settle on an agreed  alternative she holds a narrow initiative. In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed woman is queen. In her whistle -stop tour of continental capitals, her ploy now is to seek  “reassurances”, a time honoured feature of … Read more

Four Pro-Remain parties issue joint statement on the backstop

The following statement was issued by the leaders of Sinn Fein, SDLP, Alliance and the Green Party.   The four Remain parties, Sinn Féin, SDLP, Alliance and Green Party continue to believe that there is no such thing as a good Brexit and our preference is for no Brexit at all. We recognise that the majority of people, businesses and civic society do not want Brexit either. “We have a shared responsibility to protect jobs, economic stability, the environment and … Read more

Keep your eye on the glimmer of light in the Big Picture. But first we need to re-examine the backstop, sooner rather than later.

Although the sight of it is darkly occluded, the shape of things to come is emerging through the fog. Whatever immediate  political strategy  Theresa May chooses today, the dream of the hard line Brexiteers is in process of disintegration.  Whatever the political turmoil today, the UK will retain some sort of close relationship with the EU.   In Northern Ireland, unionists will have a closer relationship with the Republic and with nationalists generally – and I would argue with only slightly … Read more

50 years on: Ulster at the Crossroads address

50 years ago tonight, the then Prime Minister, Captain Terence O’Neill took to the airwaves broadcasting an address on BBC Northern Ireland and UTV at 6pm. The address came as the Unionist government began to loose control of the escalating civil rights marches and he faced greater pressure from the British government to pursue reforms. In tandem with this, he faced growing criticism from senior members of his government such as Bill Craig and Brian Faulkner. Why a broadcast? In … Read more

UUP calls for May Deal to be voted down with an extension of Article 50

The Ulster Unionists have issued a statement on the Withdrawal Agreement, calling for its rejection. “The Withdrawal Agreement negotiated between Her Majesty’s Government and the EU will erode the constitutional and economic integrity of the United Kingdom and should be rejected. “The Ulster Unionist Party warned of the potential consequences of the inclusion of the disastrous backstop in December 2017, but the DUP who claimed to be in a position of influence at the heart of UK Government were asleep … Read more

The DUP would be fools to vote for no confidence in the government and boost the chances of a No Deal default

Politics is in a vortex of fast moving events over which the government has little control. According to the likely scenario, Theresa May will lose the meaningful vote badly next Tuesday night.  What happens next is in uncharted waters. But this is how  the meaningful vote fits into the prescribed  timetable, courtesy of the FT: The vote is a legal obligation under the UK’s 2018 EU Withdrawal Act, which says such a vote must take place “before the European Parliament decides whether … Read more

The British are by no means the only ones who failed to articulate what they wanted from Brexit.

I concur with Naomi. Two and a half years after a referendum in which Brexit was projected as ‘all kinds of everything”. It is bizarre that we still don’t know what it will look like when it comes out of the Westminster sausage machine. If UK Labour’s campaign was poor/nonexistent, it was the BBC’s decision to treat it as a hot piece of blue on blue action, not a decision on the UK’s constitutional future contributed to that deep sense … Read more

Brexit chaos! The Irish Passport podcast sums it up

It can be difficult to keep up with the twists and turns of Brexit. It’s simultaneously important, because the stakes are so high, and yet frustrating and boring, because although there seem to be new changes every day the fundamental cold hard realities remain the same. If you’ve lost track, the latest episode of The Irish Passport podcast sums up the past few weeks and what it all means for island of Ireland. Can Theresa May survive as prime minister? … Read more

The Stagnation of Urban Renewal

Late last year the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) released the updated Northern Ireland Multiple Deprivation Measures. There were no surprises here: half of the most deprived Super Output Areas (SOAs) are in Belfast, a fifth are in the North West, and the rest are scattered in mostly rural communities. There is very little movement in and out of the top 100. The absence of a steady flow of continuous and dynamic data has contributed to stagnation and … Read more

All eyes on Omagh as McElduff returns to frontline politics

On Thursday night former MP for West Tyrone Barry McElduff re-entered the political arena after he was selected by party members in County Tyrone to run for Sinn Féin in next year’s local government elections. What is notable about his selection to stand in Omagh Town is that this is also the intended launchpad of Fianna Fáil in the north (well certainly for a section of the party) as talks with the SDLP continue. At the last council election in … Read more

‘A New Ireland: a ten year plan?’ Book launch…

‘A New Ireland: a ten year plan?’ is being launched at events in Dublin and Belfast tomorrow (7th December). The book considers the prospect for Irish reunification in the context of the impact of Brexit and demographic changes in Northern Ireland, alongside the economic strength and increasing social liberalism of the Irish Republic.  Things are changing in Ireland, north and south. But the problems associated with the Brexit referendum result demonstrate the danger of having a yes/no vote without considering … Read more

Is Your Child Green or Orange?

Children in Northern Ireland are continuing to be shoe-horned into Orange and Green identities, by the very programme set up to break down divisions. This article draws on a recent FOI request to the NI Executive, to show how children participating in ‘Together: Building a United Community’ (TBUC) Camps, ended up being designated as one community background or the other. A factor which surely makes it more difficult to break out of the cycle of polarisation in Northern Ireland, and which … Read more