The looming ultimatum: Varadkar’s warning shot

Many thanks to Brian Walker for his posts yesterday and today about the latest developments in the Irish angle to the Brexit negotiations. I think one important dimension has been missed, however. Progress on the Irish border is one of the three priority areas of discussion where sufficient progress needs to have been made by October to move to further talks over the future UK/EU relationship. The other two are the terms of the financial settlement for Brexit, and the rights of UK citizens in the EU and vice versa.

A lot of trust and credibility (and time) has been lost by the British government’s failure to prepare, relying instead on fantasies about German industry and schoolboy insults, and serious indications of goodwill from Westminster are therefore now required. If the UK stonewalls on the three key issues, the EU will reconcile itself to a hard Brexit and officially start planning accordingly. (Unofficial planning has of course already started, though nobody will admit it.)

Now in fact, the Brussels gossip is that despite public perception, it seems plausible that a deal can be reached on citizens’ rights; and that while the British came into this month’s session of the talks in combative form on the financial deal, they went away looking rather thoughtful. (The British government’s rejection of its own Foreign Secretary’s “Go whistle!” taunt was also helpful in restoring trust on this issue.)

However, there has been zero indication of progress on how the Irish border will be regulated post-Brexit, and that frustration, more than any other calculation, was surely behind the Taoiseach’s unrehearsed comments on Friday. I don’t believe the media reports that the Irish government has, or had, a strong position on moving the functional Border to the Irish Sea. Leo Varadkar is right to say that it is up to the UK in the first place to propose a way forward – they are the ones breaking up the current system, after all – and no proposal has been forthcoming.

Rumours are now circulating that leading cabinet ministers in Whitehall are coming around to the view that the UK should stay in both the Customs Union and the Single Market for some time after 2019, for reasons largely unrelated to Ireland. Those with experience in the field have pointed out that setting up the bureaucratic machinery to administer any border regime other than a UK/EU Customs Union will take a lot longer than the 19 months between now and Brexit day. This outbreak of realism is welcome, though the Customs Union option is also far from straightforward.

Speculation about any kind of special status for Northern Ireland will remain wishful thinking unless and until London formally proposes it; nobody else at the negotiating table is going to mention it. I have to report that there is not a huge appetite for it on the EU side. It is important to understand that if such a proposal (or any proposal relating to the Border) is made by the UK, the Irish government will have a controlling interest in the EU’s response – the other EU governments and institutions recognise that this is an existential issue for the Irish state, and will defer to Dublin.

The British government has just a few weeks left to demonstrate whether it is going to take the negotiations seriously. If there is no British proposal on how the practicalities of travel and trade between Northern Ireland and Ireland can be managed, or no credible proposal, then we are headed for a hard Brexit and a hard Border – which of course would be a very undesirable outcome for the Irish state, but one entirely driven by British choices.

Husband, father of three, Irish, European, UK, Belgian citizen, liberal, political analyst, science fiction fan, psephologist, lapsed medievalist, aspiring polyglot.

  • Kevin Breslin

    If UK says its all for free trade or world trade rules and Europe wants to maintain its tariffs an protections then its up to EU to solve their own problems.
    The EU can say its all for free trade too, it doesn’t stop them from putting up tariffs and other protections.

    So long as you are literally not reciting a dictionary, words are meaningless without actions to back up your integrity.

    The UK is one of the most protectionist nations within Europe … it’s not going to go from frigid virgin in a speed dating joint to a self-employed promiscuous prostitute overnight.

    The Brits have some standards and lines they will protect themselves from.

    Sure the Europeans know them better than anyone.

  • William Kinmont

    UK will cling to Europe’s quality safety standards for its own safety and for outward trade . those brexiteers who hoped for a reduction in red tape will be sadly disappointed. Apart from agri which industries would be hit by tariff free ? I don’t claim to know the answer to this.

  • Kevin Breslin

    There are ways of doing this:

    For example just put higher VAT on imported good (not with proven origin from Britain) … which I guess means turn around is fair play.

    Every slice of British (or even NI) beef ate or milk drank in Southern Ireland can be VATed to ensure that the Southern Irish farmers get money from the subsidy.

    Likewise for Northern Ireland with Southern goods.

    Effectively protectionism is carried out to pay your internal workers thanks to regressive stateist taxation policies on your trading partners.

  • Kevin Breslin

    No one does, what’s important is that there is a political understanding on the new relationship with Europe and Ireland (something the UK ultimately determines though its actions and behaviour) in order to deal with forthcoming changes as they emerge.

    For the most part there will be loads of trials so far as consistency with the World Trade Organisation and the Agreement it sets allows, and plenty of errors emerging from these talks.

    Legal and Physical Feasibility, perhaps even imposed by a third party is going to end up being the bottom line determining these matters.

  • William Kinmont

    Bombs will be stopped by intelligence services not border checks , UK has intelligence service in place and could step up NI portal checks to further protect GB.Flooding the UK with cheap food will greatly hurt UK agri and NI in particular but Tories have been aiming for this for years it was one of their gripes within EU net importer of food with home industry needing billions annually to keep afloat why not let EU subsidise our food. Cheap consumer goods less clear cut the impact but will help keep down inflation what consumer goods do we manufacture in UK nowadays? . Tobacco probably little impact to UK or NI as of last year. Alcohol agri even fuel major signif to Scotland but not UK PLC or Tories to some degree.
    Fishing will be UK’s job to police so they will prepose patrolling the waters.
    Agree that saying free trade free trade doesn’t either solve the problem or make it go away but when the balence and types of goods are considered relevant to UK’s economy being service based the border for goods becomes more a problem for EU to solve.

  • Damien Mullan

    While an Irish nation still lives in Northern Ireland you will never be rid of us.

    States are a different matter, my Irishness is not contingent on any affirmation by any state anywhere. It’s indivisible.

  • Kevin Breslin

    My point is that the only real “free trade” is the black market trade … all sovereign governments are protectionist.

    Well the fact is that how are you going to get that intelligence if you go back to the days of non-cooperation with the republic.

    I disagree with the issue around the UK not needing to deal with exports and imports in goods from the Republic of Ireland, it literally is one of its most strategic markets.

    Fishing is a good example here, losing market access for fish while preventing other nations accessing your fishing waters is not a profitable exchange for the British fishing industry. Some sort of trade off is going to have to be made here.

    As for the service industry …

    The problem is that British jingo juicers think that controlling borders to people and goods, while coming with a zero tariff arrangement is completely economically sound, politically sound and the European owes it a soft border within Ireland.

    Irish jingo juicers are just going to tell them where to put their border…

    At the end of the day it is in the UK’s economic interests AND political interests to enforce border controls and be the bad guy. It’s either Northern Ireland or Brexit, you can’t save both in the long run.

    Neither of these suit the Republic of Ireland, who unionists have been hoping to play bad guy here.

    Except there is a massive problem with the DUP-Tory logic here, It suits the Republic of Ireland even Eurosceptics within it to be the bad guy on Brexit (which is only to them annoying the English and some Welsh fishers), not on Northern Ireland.

    That means the British coming across as the bad guys on Northern Ireland.

  • Roger

    You’re just being entirely inconsistent. Somehow it’s fine and dandy for non EU USA to be involved in an EU state’s defense. But a big no, no for non-EU UK to do the same. NATO isn’t an EU organization. You’ve not pretended to offer any justification for your selective approach.

  • Roger

    Article 50 doesn’t prescribe a time period for negotiations.
    It simply prescribes a 2 year period before exit becomes effective and facilitates the making of new arrangements during that period. It certainly doesn’t prescribe time periods for ratification.

    Everything, if there is to be an agreement, has to be done within 24 months from last March. Ratification included if deal requires it.

  • Damien Mullan

    Here’s the consistency. Ireland is part of the EU in which it has woven economic interests of the most fundamental nature with all EU members. So I have no difficulty with Ireland adopting shared defense arrangements within the rest of its economic sphere of interest. That’s the first and foremost basis upon which any Irish defense cooperation ought to be based.

    As for the US involvements in other EU states, well that’s entirely a matter for them, but I presume that that is due to those nations being also members of NATO, which as I repeat at nauseam Ireland is not a member.

    Of course the UK post-Brexit is going to continue with its NATO partnerships which include EU members, who, and this is the important bit, are also members of NATO.

    As my post began, it is Ireland I am singular concerned with, not EU NATO members. In that regard, Ireland, must as a non-NATO EU member, make common good in the defense realm with other EU members first and foremost, and that as a consequence, it would be most inappropriate, given the military assets of existing members of the EU, primarily France, to utilizing their military assets, and the military assets of other members, before ever venturing to countries outside of the EU.

  • Roger

    We seem to be going around in circles. NATO is not an EU organization! You’ve again offered no argument as to why cooperation with one non EU state is a no, no. But cooperation with other non EU states is ok.

  • Damien Mullan

    Gentle god have mercy.

    It’s clear NATO is not an EU organisation, if it was, I wouldn’t plainly have to say Ireland is not a member, otherwise if NATO was an EU organization, Ireland, by virtue of its EU membership, would be part of NATO. So obviously they are distinctly different.

    Again, what non-EU state does Ireland have cooperation, and by cooperation I mean, as my original post suggested, airspace cover? Lets not go down the Shannon Airport route again either. Not permits, but substantive defense cooperation.

    I again repeat that a non-EU member and an EU member have misaligned economic interests, which if they were members of NATO would be somewhat overcome, but that overcoming would be reflective of shared NATO membership which spring from their respective domestic political systems, that does not exist in the Irish context. Therefore, as EU members we have economic interests with other EU members that need defending, which could only ever bring in non-EU countries, if Ireland defense cooperation was supplemented with NATO membership.

  • Skibo

    Buying GM crops would be one thing, allowing GM seed would be another. Cross pollination has no respect of border posts.

  • Roger

    Your last para; first sentence refers. Here I paraphrase it by reference to USA.

    “USA and Ireland have misaligned economic interests, which if they were members of NATO would be somewhat overcome.” A remarkable, unsubstantiated and irrelevant claim and the rest gets more remarkable and further off point. Remember, of all EU states, Ireland must be either the most closely aligned with USA or thereabouts. NATO membership is irrelevant. Moreover economic alignment doesn’t even need to come into it. We are discussing defense and your two standards approach. One standard for countries in one non EU organization and other standard for those not in that EU organization.

    Regrettably it descends to gibberish. I can’t respond to gibberish other than repeat that gibberish isn’t an argument.

  • Nevin

    “EU governments and institutions recognise that this is an existential issue for the Irish state, and will defer to Dublin”

    This looks very much like wishful thinking. Ireland IMO will do what it’s told by those who carry more weight.

  • Damien Mullan

    “Remember, of all EU states, Ireland must be either the most closely aligned with USA or thereabouts.”

    Total lies.

    “Ramstein Air Base is a United States Air Force base in Rhineland-Palatinate, a state in southwestern Germany. It serves as headquarters for the United States Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa (USAFE-AFAFRICA) and also for NATO Allied Air Command (AIRCOM). Ramstein is located near the town of Ramstein-Miesenbach, in the rural district of Kaiserslautern. The Air Base is used to coordinate and execute most of the United States global drone program.”

    “Since 1942 the United States has maintained air bases in the United Kingdom.[citation needed] Major Commands of the USAF having bases in the United Kingdom were the United States Air Forces in Europe (USAFE), Strategic Air Command (SAC), and Air Mobility Command (AMC).”

    “The Sixth Fleet is the United States Navy’s operational fleet and staff of United States Naval Forces Europe. The Sixth Fleet is headquartered at Naval Support Activity Naples, Italy.[2] The officially stated mission of the Sixth Fleet in 2011 is that it “conducts the full range of Maritime Operations and Theater Security Cooperation missions, in concert with coalition, joint, interagency, and other parties, in order to advance security and stability in Europe and Africa.” ”

    I don’t understand your obsession with Ireland and the United States. The only significant US military arrangement in Ireland is the Shannon stopover. Not a substantive relationship. Once that penny drops you’ll fully understand what a complete dogs dinner you’ve made of your argument.

  • Skibo

    The other issue is would the UK consider doing away with the border completely and either have joint authority or reunification. In one fell swoop they would resolve one of the three stumbling blocks to negotiating a new trade deal.

  • Skibo

    Ted I think you are wrong there. Issue one is negotiating the leaving procedure. Issue two negotiating a new trade deal IF one is required.

  • Christine

    Hello my name is Tom Christine , my husband was suffering from liver cancer, and the doctor’s told me that there is nothing they could do to save my beloved husband life.Then a friend told me about cannabis oil, i told her that my husband liver cancer is in the last stage, that i don’t think this cannabis oil will be able to help him out,but she persuaded me to try and see it myself, for the love of my husband, i decided to give it a try. I did some research and i found a doctor Rick Simpson who helped me with the cannabis oil to cure my husband liver cancer and he assured me that after 4 months the liver cancer will be gone, and For the past one year my husband is perfectly okay and he is free from cancer, if you know any one who is suffering from cancer you can save his/her life by contacting Rick Simpson via his, it worked exactly as he prescribed. Thanks to Rick Simpson for taking away sorrow in my life. God will bless Rick Simpson for helping me with cannabis oil and for his support and care. contact:,or you can also get in touch with them on their Facebook Page i will keep on sharing this great testimony,so that everybody can see how cannabis oil fight and kill cancer, all i have to say is THANK YOU LORD.

  • Skibo

    I believe if you look at the balance of trade, Ireland exports around £16B to the UK and imports £25B. I would say the effect could be even.

  • lizmcneill

    How would that help?

  • lizmcneill

    Why should UK care if NI becomes transit point for world trade goods into EU

    Because that would block a free trade deal?

  • lizmcneill

    Did the DUP agree to that one?

  • lizmcneill

    Are you trying to restart the Troubles? It’s hard to think of a better way of doing it if you were.

  • lizmcneill

    What is the UK government proposing to do to replace the argi-food sector in NI? It’s not like they can exactly move any more civil service jobs in.

  • lizmcneill

    Better start thinking about where to get a Search and Rescue helicopter to pull people off the Mournes if it can’t come from Dublin any more, too.

  • Skibo

    I can see where you are coming from but if we look at negotiations so far, the EU looks like the united front and the British cabinet seem to be contradicting each other.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    No but the nonsense spouted off by some you would think they seek a rerun ?

  • Roger

    It’s not complicated. You’ve asserted that Ireland having a defense arrangement with U.K. is a no no. Grounds: it won’t be an EU state. I’ve pointed out that that’s not a valid argument because many, indeed most, EU states have defense arrangements with non-EU states. We picked arrangements with US as an example. You’ve just backed up my arguments rhyming off examples of EU states having defense arrangements with a non-EU state.

  • Damien Mullan

    “most, EU states have defense arrangements with non-EU states.”

    But not Ireland. Let me remind you that this began as a suggestion of mine that Ireland, Ireland, Ireland, and only Ireland, discontinue this emergency measure that exists for the RAF to intervene in Irish airspace in the event of an emergency situation post-Brexit.

    This actually points up something of the fallacy of Brexiters, their supposed critique of the EU as a ‘superstate’, which you seem to be nursing, Ireland can choose to continue with RAF support post-Brexit, though I would advise against, for the reasons i’ve already outlined, or it can enter, as I suggest, into closer defense cooperation with EU members.

  • Skibo

    I honestly do not believe there will be return to the troubles as we remember them but i think there will be an increase in dissident action, especially as they will have a static target to aim at.
    They have little to no support within the Nationalist community at present.

  • Skibo

    What about the fact that Ireland has always cherished it’s neutral position. i see no need for either the UK or France to protect her skies.
    The issue of Ireland being interested in being part of airbus is new. While Ireland is massive in leasing air planes, I do not believe there is much industry relating to building planes. Perhaps it is something thy should consider.
    I have always wondered why Ireland does not assemble cars. I believe there is still a lorry manufacturer.

  • Roger

    The reminder was unnecessary.
    I think we’ve achieved a consensus. We both agree Ireland can continue with its arrangement with the UK post Brexit. There would be nothing particularly unusual about it either.

    I’ve never been under an illusion as to EU being a super state but granted there may be Brexiteers who are.

  • Roger

    We were talking about something narrower. The grounds I mentioned.

    I don’t know about aviation products from Ireland. My guess is there is probably a fair bit of obscure aircraft equipment made in Ireland. But I don’t know. Agreed aircraft leasing is huge.

  • Damien Mullan

    Well of course it can. Ireland is a sovereign independent state.

    The fact that my avatar was beside ‘my’ comments, ought to have been a clue to the comments relating to ‘my’ suggestion. It’s not Irish government policy as yet, but ‘my’ suggestion is that it ought to be. Get the French in ASAP. That’s ‘my’ advise.

  • John Devane

    A poster on the Irish Times makes a valid point
    Ohn 1234 1 day ago
    The border issue is actually not a problem from the British point of view and I think Varadkar and the government are starting to understand this and are beginning to panic.

    The British are going to pursue their traditional free trade philosophy and don’t care about customs at the border whereas the EU will care about it. They also don’t care about people crossing the border because Ireland is already outside Schengen and they don’t have the slightest interest in introducing visas for EU citizens. Their only concern is over benefits and employment which are matters that don’t need border control.

    Ireland is going to be the one that is going to have to enforce the border and will be made to do it by the EU. So lets not go and project this one on the British because they will be more than happy to keep it soft. Hence the frustration over their lack of activity on the subject. British products rolling into Ireland and then getting rebadged as Irish for resale in the EU just does not keep the British government up at night even if it is a nightmare for the EU.

  • Roger

    Great. We are all agreed then. There’s no EU requirement that an EU state’s defense cooperation arrangements must be with an EU states. You’d rather Ireland go with France which is further away and whose people speak a different language than the United Kingdom whose territory and seas are adjacent and with whom we share a common language. It’s a fair point of view though I don’t know your reasons.

  • Damien Mullan

    A French alliance worked pretty well for George Washington, why not Ireland. You do know that France is America’s oldest ally, last time I looked they both spoke different languages.

    I’d love to see French jet fighters and naval assets stationed in Ireland. Seeing such jet fighters scream and soar along the ROI side of Lough Foyle. What a sight that would be, utterly delicious.

  • Nicholas Whyte

    No. The EU will not push a member state into a decision detrimental to its existence, no matter what you may have read in the British papers.

  • Roger

    Alright. I have a sense of your reasons now.

    Laugh Foyle could be tricky with the Ireland claiming it’s in Ireland and the UK claiming it’s in the UK.

    But I suppose that would only add to the taste…

  • Damien Mullan

    The sulfur most diffidently would be in the air. Wants not to like.

  • Kevin Breslin

    The UK don’t have a tradition of free trade. Their tradition about talking about free trade is second to none.

    The customs problem for the UK is customs delays in GB, but at the end of the day you’d have to be drinking the heavy metals of a flag pole to think that the UK is going to emerge with close to anything it wants.

    This customs time bomb has sparked angry outbursts in Wales and in Scotland as either the UK increases customs in Wales or increases Customs in Scotland depending on which is the main port for Irish goods. You are naive to think this problem is not contagious.

    Frankly if the UK feel they can ignore Northern Ireland for the sake of an insular (as in island) sense of carthartic

    It won’t be for want of any number of glory seeking generals that the Brexit war is lost, but for the want of missing horseshoe nails they needed to keep the whole structure from falling apart.

    The fact of the matter is the British government know keeping the border soft will stir up internal tensions

    I don’t envy or blame the British here, they are democratically signed up to try to deliver on the overly zealous wishful thinking of Brexit.

    What Varadkar has done by saying that the UK’s job is to design its own border … (A matter for them if it’s hard or soft so long as it’s legal) is to destroy the myth that the EU is forcing the Irish

    It suits the rest of the European Union to see the British try to bully Ireland into saving their faces. The Irish can protect the single market within its own coastline, Northern Ireland is a net importer from the South.

    I’ve spoken to several unionists in both the Alliance Party and Ulster Unionist Party and they are deeply worried about the economic damage this decision imposes on Northern Ireland.

    The U.K. doesn’t want the open border at all costs, it certainly does not want it at the cost of Brexit. That is an unquestionable truth.

    It’s sad Northern Ireland must be the collateral damage for a largely English decision that is unlikely to improve the lives of neither the average Northern Irish person nor the average English person.

    It’s not The Republic of Ireland’s job to design a border for the UK, all this talk of controlling borders and it’s clear they cannot even take back control of their only significant land border.

    The No Deal scenario, the most Europhobic of options would pretty much ensure that the UK’s trading schedules for a country like Columbia or Mauritania must apply on every other nation it doesn’t have a trade agreement with.

    That would include the European Union, and that would be to the UK’s own embarresment.

    De Valera forced customs on Northern Ireland, he didn’t crawl so much up his own backside to impose an Norn Iron Curtain up here.

  • John Devane

    As the UK democratically elected to leave the EU then in a nutshell…..

    A hard border is really a requirement of the EU, not the UK.

    The solution is therefore in the hands of the EU and the ROI and it can be argued it isn’t for the UK to devise a solution?

  • Roger

    I remember being in the south of France when one of its supersonic, I think, bombers flew overhead. That’s the only time I’ve seen or heard a Star Wars plane like that. It was pretty impressive I grant you that.

  • Damien Mullan

    The French have a decent enough military industrial complex, but as the case of the much maligned F-35 proves, other nations are now moving beyond to fifth generation fighters, even the Chinese are well enough place, even if theirs will be decades off from appearing on the horizon. The UK is piggy backing off US research and development to pick up a consignment of F-35’s, French national pride and wider consideration of independent European defense capabilities, means they will be forced into spending a larger portion of national income on defense research and development, or logically pooling with other nations, primarily the Germans. While the Euro fighter was no glittering success, I don’t see the French having any other choice but by making a further go of it again, the benefit this time, is that such a project is likely to be under the auspices of Airbus, giving it the dedicated expertise and commercial aviation crossover that would help with project management, especially as far as time and costs are concerned.

  • Kevin Breslin

    The United Kingdom customs border is not a requirement of The Republic of Ireland, it’s a requirement of the United Kingdom government.

    The UK customs border frontier within Northern Ireland is going to be the only symbol of British sovereignty emerging from this Brexit process.

    Of course you would blame the European Union, because you blame everything Britain does wrong on the European Union anyway.

    Seriously, I would doubt you would ever hold British established power accountable for anything ever again … even their own decision making.

    The Anglo-Irish Treaty gives the Free State and by extension Republic of Ireland freedom from British rule and freedom from Brexit rule … it’s under no obligation to rescue Britain from its own devices, other than its own charity.

    That means Northern Ireland is the United Kingdom’s problem here … every social, economic, legal, political and environmental difficulty that affects people in Derry, Tyrone, Fermanagh, Armagh, Antrim and Down is on them to solve. That includes the issue where HMRC meets non-HMRC.

    Re-partitioning Ireland against the wishes of the 56% in Northern Ireland, against the overwhelming wishes of the people of Southern Ireland is completely on them and their need for control.

    I hate to break it to you, but the UK aren’t leaving things the way they are at the Northern Irish border, so they are going to have to enforce
    their differential sovereignty in their part of the island, regardless of what the Republic of Ireland does on its own, short of the Republic of Ireland signing its own suicide note and rejoining the United Kingdom.

    Of course being a pro-Brexit “Irish” person, you seem to think British Brexit rule in Ireland is better than what the Irish people have democratically chosen to rule them.

    Oh silly boy, in a silly “revolution”.

  • Kevin Breslin

    A harder border is a requirement of Brexit.

  • aquifer

    If there is a customs border that does not include both the UK and the EU, it will be at the Irish Sea. Thanks to the DUP and their hand out for silly silver.

  • John Devane

    Interesting link. I read all the comments yet remain none the wiser. As Brexit is going to happen and the UK government doesn’t want a hard border what then will happen? ………..will the UK government erect custom posts? I doubt it. What if the UK leaves without a FTA and WTO rules apply? Will the EU insist on a hard border? Perhaps yet the UK won’t?
    Too many variables now so it all remains conjecture

  • john millar

    “Every slice of British (or even NI) beef ate or milk drank in Southern Ireland can be VATed to ensure that the Southern Irish farmers get money from the subsidy.”

    Vat is an internal tax it is accounted for at importation into a state.
    So importers of beef etc would pay a tax — 20%?— on imports to the state and this money would be redistributed to ROI farmers?

  • Nevin

    When it comes to the treatment of Ireland, the state, by the EU big beasts I’d be more likely to look at the Irish Examiner than other papers. I’ve yet to see any explanation that would change my view that Ireland is a pawn in the game and will be used by the big beasts as a stick to beat the UK.

  • Nicholas Whyte

    There is no EU plan to beat the UK. The UK is doing that perfectly well unaided!

  • Nevin

    The UK decided to leave the ‘ever closer union’ EU club so it’s hardly surprising that the big beasts should use Ireland as a club to beat the UK in the negotiations. Indeed the EU approach looks more like one of diktat than negotiation. Sadly, Leo appears to be a willing pawn in the game.

  • Nevin

    The UK decided to leave the ‘ever closer union’ EU club so it’s hardly surprising that the big beasts should use Ireland as a club to beat the UK in the negotiations. Indeed the EU approach looks more like one of diktat than negotiation. Sadly, Leo appears to be a willing pawn in the game.

  • Nicholas Whyte

    There is no plan to “beat” the UK in the negotiations. The remaining EU states of course won’t offer the UK a better deal than the UK already had through EU membership; why should they? But that is not punishment, that is the natural consequence of Brexit.

    Ireland has been given a decisive voice in the negotiations as regards the Border. That is not exactly diktat from the big beasts.

  • pablito

    I think Ireland’s loyalty to the EU is misplaced. Ireland was treated appallingly in the wake of the financial crash and it’s only a matter of time until, in the name of “tax harmonisation” they come after the low corporation tax which has been so valuable for investment and jobs. It is Mrs Merkel’s obsession with sound finances, couples with the euro, that’s keeping Greece locked into recession, poverty and unemployment. Mr Varadkar may be angry that the UK is breaking the status quo, but it will be the EU which forces Ireland to erect customs checks with the UK. As others here have pointed out, the UK is not very concerned with checking goods coming in from the ROI, because it has no intention of disrupting existing trade links.

    If the EU goes ahead with its “bureaucracy before trade” policy then many of the EU economies are going to suffer an economic hit, which may fall disproportionately on Ireland as the economies of the UK and Ireland remain joined at the hip. But I believe that the UK will readjust, and expand again in the world market, with less regulation, access to cheaper food and goods and remain a major international economy. In the long term it would be far more to Ireland’s benefit to be part of that new found freedom than to be tied to a lumbering behemoth of which it’s just a tiny member, never taken seriously by the big boys. When Enda Kenny made his first visit to Mrs Merkel after the Brexit vote, he was assured by her that Ireland is one of 27. It isn’t. It’s a country whose economy and history is intimately bound to the UK, and which needs special consideration in any future relationship between the EU and the UK. If it isn’t given that, Ireland should reject the EU and take care of itself.

  • pablito

    @Michael64. This is what would be likely to happen if the Tories were to stay in power for a decade. If Jeremy Corbyn got to Downing St, we’d be more likely to see the future UK resemble Venezuela!

  • John Devane

    Neatly summed up. Unfortunately it doesn’t appear to be a popular position to take in Ireland now. IMHO Ireland is headed down the wrong road staying in the EU.