A reply on Brexit to Nicholas Whyte

I don’t think I did leave out “the important dimension” of the Irish border, one of three issues identified by the EU before trade talks can begin. On this I agreed with the Brexit Secretary David Davis who asked how the border issue could  possibly be settled in advance.  A settlement on the Irish border has surely to be compatible with a wider deal and the EU I suspect will not allow an Irish tail to wag the EU dog.

I also query Nicholas’ statement:

“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.”

How is that compatible with the EU’s high ranking of the Irish border issue?

The Irish side could in theory propose a bespoke Irish-British settlement within the EU’s negotiating position. Bertie Ahern for one, no slouch as a negotiator, would have them  get on with it.   To be fair, they have indeed come near to doing so but have tactfully (and perhaps tactically)   failed so far to put the pieces together. What’s stopping them if they’re right in believing that their economy will be even harder hit than the UK’s ?

I suspect they are nervous about going any further in public at least, in case they suddenly become isolated. Little Ireland sounds trapped at the moment between bigger contending forces.  Now is not the time to try to exert whatever pressure Ireland has with the Commission and EU 26, whatever the EU says about settling the border question first.

The EU could also propose a bespoke all-Ireland  deal and a north-south arrangement within it if they really believe it’s so important.

The British are probably quite happy to regard all of Ireland as a card to play as the negotiations proceed. This is hard ball but nobody expected a smooth process or an easy deal.  But the Commission are no more the good guys than are the British.

Granted absolutely that Brexit is the UK’s doing and we can all sympathise with Varadkar’s youthful asperity. But the UK’s position whatever it will be exactly in detail, aims at free trade arrangements with the EU.  That would mean an open not even a “frictionless” border. According to them it is up to the EU to make clear what the limitations on free trade would be. So in that sense the ball is also very much  in the EU’s court.

Barnier is hustling the British to  be more specific about  their proposals while the British are trying to make a virtue of their chronic  indecision on the big questions.

While nobody could argue that the British are looking impressive, at least the cabinet seem to be agreeing on a transition period that would look very like remaining with the internal market and the customs union, while technically leaving them, added to which are a substantial divorce and future benefits settlement and ” voluntary” free movement for a time.  This if it sticks, ( and it’s a big  “if”),  should be recognised as quite a big shift in position which Dublin  should respond  to, very much in their own interests.



, , , , , , ,

  • Cal Cryton

    I assume you’re talking about GB there? small and irrelevant certainly comes to mind.

  • Trasna

    Please tear the GFA into bits. It would be the best thing ever.

  • Trasna

    How do you plan to remove Irish passports from people in Donegal, Monaghan and Cavan?

    This should be interesting.

  • Trasna

    Oh yes, how do you plan to remove the passports from the people of Donegal, Monaghan and Cavan? These counties are Ulster.

    This should be interesting.

  • Trasna

    Pie in the sky stuff. Most Irish people don’t give a fiddlers fck for the border, so Westminister or the EU has no leverage there.

  • Marcus Orr

    Nor should we Irish particularly care about the border, but the EU has plenty of leverage in posing as the friendly power to Ireland helping them to get rid of it and to liberate at last from the last remains of British power and influence.

  • Trasna

    Ha, ha, little keyboard warrior. The UK needs the 8 billion surplus trade it enjoys with Ireland. Ireland could live without its 8 billion deficit it has with the UK.

  • DaptoDogs

    Well said Nicholas. Thank you for the other work you do with the ARK research and longitudinal vote tallies and tables. Your research and reports transcend the nonsense most commentators offer on both parts of Ireland, and some of us sincerely appreciate it.

  • DaptoDogs

    Spot on. The coming eastern union is going to be something to behold.

  • DaptoDogs

    Strange that such low unemployment rates haven’t forced up wages don’t you think, unless someone is fiddling the figures?

  • Nicholas Whyte

    Cheers, mate!

  • DaptoDogs

    That is also why the British will happily settle for a sea border with the Irish island over the protestations of Unionists.