Brexit: Little Northern Ireland can only brace itself, whilst the grown-ups decide

I was asked earlier by a French journalist if I thought Brexit was playing in the upcoming election. Not much I said, or at least in the overt campaigning, which is largely about who wins and who loses.

I expect it is playing well enough on the doorsteps for the DUP (who alone of all the NI parties went with it). SF’s agitprop approach of scaring the bejesus out of their base will work for them too.

Though they weren’t very keen on Leo Veradkar muscling in on their territory by making positive suggestions for seeking community consent to make Brexit less traumatic.

And that’s about the height of the seriousness of the Brexit debate in Northern Ireland. Most of the politically serious moves seem to be taking place outside the northern jurisdiction.

As Brian has noted, there’s much business to take care of before little Northern Ireland will hove into view in the negotiations.

Although NI has a strategic importance in terms of the public diplomacy around Brexit, the real deal is its effect on the southern economy and the inevitable divergence of focus between north and south

Brigid Laffin (late of UCD, now in Florence) outlines a couple knotty problems likely to arise with the departure of Ireland’s Anglo Model twin…

A Macron presidency is very good news for the EU, but will challenge Ireland in terms of its domestic policy mix. In particular, it will bring renewed attention to the Republic’s corporate tax rate.

The State has successfully defended the 12.5 per cent corporate tax rate, even though there were compelling domestic reasons to ask businesses to shoulder more of the burden of the adjustment during the recent recession.

What is impossible for the State to defend is the evidence that, due to additional tax breaks, large and extremely wealthy multinational companies based here pay virtually no tax at all.

There is a simmering public debate on corporate tax in the Republic which needs to be intensified so that the State has a tax code that is not seen as undermining other countries. The outcome of the Apple case will be a critical moment in this regard.

Moreover, a second sacred cow needs attention and that is the Republic’s policy of military neutrality. Irish policy in this regard was always conditioned by the safety of its geographical location.

However, the return of hard geopolitics in a world of Putin and Trump challenges European security and means that the State’s neutrality deserves sustained scrutiny.

The so-called triple lock which binds the State into a UN resolution before committing to the deployment of Irish troops does not do justice to the Irish Republic.

The consent of the Oireachtas should be sufficient for such a move, and the Republic should take full part in the further development of the EU’s security capacity.

But before we get there we could be in for a bit of a bumpy ride. Wolfgang Munchau fears that the media and politicians within EU countries have yet to take the UK’s determination seriously.

The biggest category of risk in the forthcoming Brexit negotiations is political miscalculation – but not of the variety you would think. Yes, it is always possible, indeed probable, that a bombastic UK politician fails to understand the intricacies of EU politics. Far more likely and more dangerous is the possibility that the EU misjudges British politics.

There are plenty of examples where this has already happened. David Cameron was given a raw deal last year when the European Council ignored the former prime minister’s warnings about Brexit.

And…

If EU negotiators believe that Brexit may not happen, why offer the UK a good deal? They may even think that a lousy deal could become a self-fulfilling prophesy. They might think that the harder they negotiate, the bigger they can make the Brexit bill and the greater the chances of the UK not leaving.

In any case, little Northern Ireland can only brace itself whilst it returns to the integrity of its historic quarrels, whilst the grown-ups decide what happens next:

European industry can cope with a hard Brexit, but not a sudden one. The EU will also find that a large percentage of financial contracts will all of a sudden no longer be subject to EU law – hardly something that is conducive to financial stability in the eurozone.

It is only once the EU begins to calculate the costs of a sudden Brexit that these negotiations will start in earnest.

Maybe when it completes, and the current short-term opportunism inevitably runs into sand perhaps Republicans and Nationalists will start to figure out how the unification project can be put together?

  • Hugh Davison

    Do you have something in mind? A deal that sees NI prosper in the UK? We’d all love to know what that looks like.

  • Hugh Davison

    In his book ‘The Treaty Ports’ Robert Fisk describes Winston Churchill’s frustration at the lack of productivity in the North’s shipbuilding and other defence industries.

  • Paddy Ferris

    But it is a little more than just a metal vehicle. Its the psychology of a border that harasses the minds of not just the Shinners, but many others from all traditions and none. There is also a concern that such stop posts offer a target to dissidents. Further concerns include nationality, Identity and work rights etc. We hope a deal can smooth these concerns of course, but as of now we cannot be sure. Believing it will be ‘alright on the night’ does nothing to defuse the worry. Essentially the post title is correct, little Northern Ireland (and indeed all of all Ireland) will just have to wait and see. Most likely, the actual border will move to the Irish sea if it appears to be the easiest solution. Back room leaks suggest, that might be a done deal already.

  • Paddy Ferris

    Its not going to be a problem. The border will shift to the Irish Sea.

  • Hugh Davison

    What are you going to export, Chris, apart from arms and fighter jets for Saudi playboys?

  • Hugh Davison

    ‘Its all they have. They lost the war.’ This is how you regard Karl’s ‘40% of the population’?

  • Hugh Davison

    Except that Brexit has made it an ‘issue’ again.

  • Hugh Davison

    First Catholic in 89 years! Absolutely not relevant to anything, of course.

  • chrisjones2

    My personal view is that PIRAs campaign pushed Irish unity back by at least 2 generations and was right wing Unionisms best friend But we are where we are and I do not think people in NI will vote for a UI until my generation and the next are gone and the wounds have healed. Nor will the Irish want that and the Republic is changing so fast that,who knows, they might ultimately not want to pay the price.

  • chrisjones2

    Still 1 in 16 and only containerised traffic on HGVs

  • Starviking

    You’re taking my comment as whataboutery, it was a counterpoint showing that both sides of the community in NI have acted against democracy in the past.

  • Starviking

    Yup, Ballot box and Armalite is long gone. As is gerrymandering, and political assassination. You might want to look at Madra Uisce’s comment I was replying to – it’s also talking about things mainly in the past.

    As for the DUP being the last party linked to such actions, so? Some party has to be the last one caught. I just hope that that incident remains the last one – though I doubt it will be, and I doubt it will be just someone in DUP accountable.

    Now talking of anti-democratic forces, both the DUP and SF are the main beneficiaries of it. The electoral donations rules for NI allow rich people and organisations from outside NI to subsidized the campaigns of those two parties, tilting the playing field in the direction of the extremists, and leaving the middle out in the cold.

    As for stats on party members murdered, well, first of all – you’ve moved the goalposts, as party members are not equal to political opponents. Edgar Graham, Norman and James Stronge, and John Barnhill were political opponents killed.

    As for party members killed, given the fluid nature of the membership of SF and the IRA, I’m sure SF/IRA wins hands down.

  • Skibo

    I wouldn’t say that you are all thick but you do seem too quick to take what Republicans say as lies and DUP as gospel. There is not enough independent thinking within the Unionist electorate or is it that Unionist independent thinking voters have already abandoned the Unionist view and moved to the middle ground of Alliance.

  • chrisjones2

    You are desperate to find a problem. Try using a smaller glass?

  • chrisjones2

    But if the UK chooses to allow Irish Citizens special rights that is a matter for the UK not the EU or, that matter, for Ireland

  • chrisjones2

    I am not naiive at all …what you forget is that above all they want to make money and we offer an environment where they can do that, now and in the future

  • chrisjones2

    Already told them its not even on the table

  • chrisjones2

    Yes and expats living in the UK will be treated fairly. I have advocated even offering them citizenship after they have lived here for say 5 years

  • chrisjones2

    Now all they need is the SOS to believe a majority will vote for a United Ireland …..err …

  • chrisjones2

    But for the movement of people that is what has happened for the last 40 years

  • chrisjones2

    You are just unable to accept your own bias and errors

  • Roger

    I don’t think it has. There is no chance of majority support in UKNI for cession.

  • Kevin Breslin

    That’s very subjective … and I laugh at your suggestion of having any influence over things.

  • Kevin Breslin

    And 0 in 16 is far better. It seems the Republic of Ireland is doing all the hard work here like a grown up independent nation should.

    How does it feel to find a bunch of people doing amateur street theatrics are more prepared for customs than the entire British civil service and British political establishment are right now?

  • Kevin Breslin

    I’d rather have a litre of water than a pint of sulphuric acid.

  • Kevin Breslin

    You mean a nation full of gullible fools who would buy anything falsely advertised?

  • Kevin Breslin

    If we can Gaeligize George “Edward” de Valero … Leon Pharadcá should prove no problem.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Nah Nesbitt, Herman, Aitken, Purvis and Kinahan all understood it very well enough.

    Unfortunately Reason is Treason and all that.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Get an Irish one Mick if you don’t have one already. We’ll make it worth your wait.

  • Ryan A

    Unionists are getting fewer votes than 20 years also, and any boundary review will have consequences for them more so than nationalists.

  • mickfealty

    I don’t have any passport. And until the foreign trips kick in again I don’t particularly need one. They’re not cheap anymore.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Poor Mick. You’re stuck like the rest of us with the travel programs wondering “what if?”

  • mickfealty

    Believe I’m not. I’ve plenty of tea shirts and a collection old stamped passports in the bottom drawer, some from countries which no longer exist.

  • Roger

    Nationalists are getting fewer votes too…

  • John Spence

    Kevin,
    If I were you I wouldn’t ridicule others for “speaking out of their depth” on customs matters, unless you’ve deleted a lot of the nonsense on that very subject you put on Twitter a few months ago

  • Kevin Breslin

    By all means quote me John for what I said on Twitter.

    https://twitter.com/spence_john/status/842426435017035777

  • Kevin Breslin
  • Ryan A

    Proportions and Optics matter. Not nearly as few. Watch as SF emerge the largest party on votes after the election.

  • Roger

    Fine Gael is the largest party in Ireland. But it can’t come even broadly close to forming a majority government. Fragmentation in political life is rather prevalent. FG might be the biggest but it’s still weak. Getting most votes for SF is no step forward for cause of cession where overall pro-cession vote is still smaller than decades ago.

  • John Spence

    Pointless, you and I both know that your entire knowledge of customs procedures is based on google or some other search engine.

    However hopefully you agree, that contrary to what the scare merchants said, it’s good we won’t have customs posts at the border, north or south

  • Kevin Breslin

    I would not rule out anything, 15, 20, 25 km from the border will still be an unnecessary nuisance to protect partition from our closest people and a state that despite its costs provides better healthcare.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Farmers don’t want their produce to cost any more than what is needed secure their incomes, and they don’t want barriers to trade.

    Undercutting of prices in a race to the bottom will be helping no farmer in the long run, just the vendors!

  • Kevin Breslin

    A probability that may be optimistic.

  • Kevin Breslin

    New Zealand lamb is already in the UK market, the idea New Zealanders will want to negotiate down just for the British compared to the prices they sell to the other Europeans is something that is not in the United Kingdom’s gift.

    The Co-Op seems to be suggesting would prefer locally sourced Irish beef from across the border, than lamb that is refrigerated for a long journey. Inflation right now is harming UK food production.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Thanks also to Raymond Crotty, the Eurosceptic Gina Miller of Ireland.