Brexit and the border is widening the gap between London and Dublin and depressing further the chances of a return to Stormont

It has started to happen. Will it continue?  Can it be reversed? The politics of Brexit  is openly dividing the UK and Irish governments and further polarising the DUP and Sinn Fein,  making a return to the Executive less likely than ever.  Predictably Brexit is increasingly becoming domesticated as the new big theme  in a revived unionist v nationalist struggle.

What’s just happened?  The sequence was best described in a cool- headed column in the Indo by Dan O’Brien, chief economist in Dublin’s Institute of International and European Affairs who has worked for the  EU Commission and the Economist Intelligence Unit.

Eleven days ago, the Taoiseach told the Dail that he was upbeat about the Brexit talks. He said that there was a good chance his 26 EU counterparts would agree to move to the second phase of the exit negotiations in December…

Then things changed. The following day, Michel Barnier, the man who negotiates on behalf of the EU 27, shared a paper with all the national delegations that his team had drawn up on Irish border issues, and one which Irish diplomats were centrally involved in drafting. As tends to happen when European Commission documents are circulated to all member countries, it leaked immediately.

The Irish position was, and remains, that there is nothing new in the document. The British thought otherwise, with the following paragraph causing consternation in London.

“It seems essential for the UK to commit to ensuring that a hard border on the island of Ireland is avoided, including by ensuring no emergence of regulatory divergence from those rules of the internal market and the Customs Union which are (or may be in the future) necessary for meaningful North South co-operation, the all-island economy and the protection of the Good Friday Agreement.”

Mention in the paper of “no regulatory divergence” means Northern Ireland, alone or with the rest of the UK, would have to adopt all EU new single market laws in the future. The Irish side has been looking for written guarantees on these issues in return for moving to phase two of the Brexit talks next month. The British side (and unionists) viewed this as Ireland attempting to force Britain into accepting all future EU legislation or, effectively, erecting barriers to trade between Northern Ireland and Britain so that the North could remain a de facto part of the EU. It was also construed as a threat to veto moving forward on the entire Brexit process to the detriment of the UK.

The British government retaliated. London newspapers ran stories, sourced from Whitehall, that the Irish Government had made a grab for the North and that it had done so to prevent Fine Gael losing support to Sinn Fein in a coming election.

Over the following days, the Taoiseach, on a number of occasions, publicly stated that Ireland would not veto moving to phase two. But by Friday his position had changed. When asked by Sky News about the issue, he implicitly suggested that he would veto moving to phase two next month if the British government did not provide written guarantees on how it would fulfil its promises on avoiding a border between the two jurisdictions on this island.

Threatening a veto – whether consistently or inconsistently – in such a high-stakes situation is a very big call. It is all the more so when it is unclear what exact written guarantees the British could give that would satisfy the Government that no border would be put in place.

Leo Varadkar is due some sympathy. He has to ride  EU and  British  horses pulling in different directions  at once but he can hardly afford to be less zealous on the border issue than Michel Barnier.

The EU paper has been described as “ blackmail” by Arlene Foster.      treating it as a  threat to the Union.

“The people of Northern Ireland delivered peace and stability,” Foster said. “Yes, they were supported beyond these shores, but to suggest that exiting the EU will bring violence onto our streets is downright careless.

“Those in Dublin and Brussels, recklessly trying to use Northern Ireland for their own objectives, should cease. The prime minister should warn Brussels that Northern Ireland must not be used as blackmail.

The same article contains a report  that HMRC officials appearing before   the Commons’ Public Accounts Committee have admitted that  they are prevented from planning scenarios for border checks by  the absence of ministerial authority.

Meanwhile, MPs were told on Monday that senior civil servants had few contingency plans for managing the Northern Irish border after Brexit because of a political stalemate between London and Dublin.

Mandarins questioned about preparations for the UK’s borders by the public accounts committee said they could not draw up scenarios until ministers have moved forward.

Appearing before the parliamentary spending watchdog on Monday, HMRCofficials were asked how they would monitor the movement of goods and services at 300 crossing points along the border.

Karen Wheeler, HMRC’s director general, said: “That area is not within the scope that we have been working on in the border planning group because the arrangements on Ireland are still subject to negotiations and ministerial discussions.”

Jon Thompson, HMRC’s chief executive, added: “We need the process to go a bit further forward before we can fully understand it.”

Meg Hillier, the committee chair, asked when they would be able to draw up different scenarios when there was such a “fuzzy plan” around the border.

Thompson said that the government wanted no additional infrastructure or a hard border in Northern Ireland, but added “We are unable to go any further on that because of the political process.

 

The British have replied  officially to the EU document with the usual bland assurances, with the chancellor Philip Hammond adding in a Sunday interview that it would  be the EU and the Republic who  imposed any border checks, as  the British wanted free trade.

Any open quarrel between the two governments over Brexit will  embolden Sinn Fein as leaders  manoeuvre for new positions round the party table after the retirement of Gerry Adams.   The direction of travel  they’re setting was clear in speeches at the Sinn Fein Ard fheis   like Elisha McCallion’s  which drew the loudest applause as much by her analysis as her“ Up the Rebels” call.

 “The people of the North elected seven Sinn Féin MPs on an abstentionist policy.

“Nationalists in the North wanted representation on the island of Ireland.”

The first-time MP said that in the election the nationalist electorate of the North sent a clear message. “They see their future in an Irish context.”

“Irish citizens in the North are increasingly looking to the Oireachtas as an arena to air their grievances and pursue their aspirations”.

“The Dublin Government has a cast-iron responsibility to these citizens.”

“It is long past time the Dublin Government implemented the commitment to holding a referendum on extending presidential voting rights to citizens in the North and amongst the diaspora.”

While of  course there’s nothing new in any of these sentiments from the DUP and Sinn Fein, the timing and tone  will hardly boost the prospects of agreement on Stormont as the DUP and Sinn Fein leaderships hold separate meetings with Theresa May today.  Further steps of direct rule is the more likely theme than a resumption of the Executive, with Sinn Fein opposed and the  DUP trailing them as inevitable.

Later

In an article under her name in the Guardian today, the Sinn Fein leader in the North Michelle O’Neill  shifts ground to identify  Brexit politics in the form of the Conservative –DUP pact as the key obstacle to restoring Stormont government.

The failure to restore the power-sharing administration in Belfast is a direct consequence of the Tory-DUP deal to prop up Theresa May’s government. It is undermining the entire talks process and shattering any remaining pretence of British government impartiality.

Through her pact with the DUP, Theresa May has prioritised her own electoral survival over the interests of the people in the north of Ireland, who have suffered under years of Tory austerity and are now looking into the Brexit abyss. Last Friday Sinn Féin told her that direct rule is not an option. When a Sinn Féin delegation meets with her in Downing Street on Tuesday, we will make it crystal clear again.

The social, economic, and political implications of this rightwing pact on the peace process, and on the people of Ireland, are profound. And now the increasing likelihood of a “no-deal” Brexit, cheered on by British isolationists, is putting the communities and livelihoods of citizens, especially those living along the border corridor, at risk.

Designated special status for the north of Ireland within the EU is the only feasible mechanism by which our island, its people and economy, can be protected by the Tory-DUP Brexit calamity. Quite simply, Sinn Féin will not allow a return to the past.

There seems not the smallest chink of wriggle room there.

Leo Varadkar is opposed to pre- GFA direct rule but has failed to make clear what sort of  “say” he wants Dublin to have. This could become another open bone of contention between  London and Dublin.

Even if the  EU is impressed by a nebulous and conditional British offer of more money towards the Brexit divorce bill, the future of the border remains a barrier on progress in the negotiations, as the EU negotiator Michel Barnier again made clear yesterday.  .

“The UK and the EU recognise that Ireland poses specific challenges and that require a specific solution.”

“On the EU side, we must preserve the integrity of the single market and the customs union. The rules for this are clear. The UK said it would continue to apply some EU rules on its territory but not all rules.

“What is unclear is what rules will apply in Northern Ireland after Brexit and what the UK is willing to commit to in order to avoid a hard border. I expect the UK, as co-guarantor of the Good Friday agreement, to come forward with proposals. The island of Ireland is faced with many challenges; those who wanted Brexit must offer solutions.”

Later still

Foreign minister Simon Coveney rammed the point home in  George Osborne’s Evening Standard:

In an exclusive interview, Ireland’s foreign minister said his country still has a veto – and is prepared to use it.

Simon Coveney told the Standard that trade talks will not be allowed to begin until the UK also agrees to maintain the open border between the Republic and Northern Ireland.

Anybody who thinks that just because the financial settlement issue gets resolved […] that somehow Ireland will have a hand put on the shoulder and be told, ‘Look, it’s time to move on.’ Well, we’re not going to move on.

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  • Trasna

    I said plenty of other stuff as well.

  • Brendan Heading

    Varadkar’s aggressive stance is part of a broader attempt to destabilise Brexit and the UK government.

    Even if we accepted this premise for the moment, there are obvious flaws, starting with the implication that the British government is in any way stable.

    The UK government has no idea what it is doing.

  • Brendan Heading

    Is he trying to dilute their partitionist past?

    Nothing so mundane.

    brexit is a significant threat to the Irish state, the Irish economy and the Irish national interest. If Varadkar did anything less than taking his current stance he would rightly be accused of being asleep on the job.

  • eamoncorbett

    If the hard border you envisage is enforced do you seriously believe that any Nationalist party and I include the SDLP will operate Stormont in such circumstances in the full knowledge that the executive would have to play a part in implementing said border. NI doesn’t have an administration at the moment and Brexit hasn’t happened yet . The ILA and RHI issues would be miniscule compared to the scenario you envisage . It’s pretty clear Britain doesn’t want direct rule now or in the future , this could become a major issue for the governance of NI .

  • eamoncorbett

    Just wait and see what happens to Stormont, that is if it’s up and running by then.

  • eamoncorbett

    When you say Euro MPs want to torture Britain, you must remember Britain took a full and active part in the creation of trade deals for Turkey , Canada and other neighbouring countries . It’s a bit rich to suggest that Britain should somehow get preferential treatment when they took an active part in writing the rules for third countries in the first place.

  • billodrees

    May’s government is in the hands of Little-English nationalists and off-shore billionaire newspaper owners and similar. They will not accept any compromise to their vision of a gloriously independent/isolated England.
    During the Scottish Independence debate I saw Tim Bell, Thatchers PR guru and a leading Tory, say that Scotland was not essential to England. Many Tories are of the same view on Northern Ireland. Both English Labour and the Tories would jettison Northern Ireland if that was the price of achieving a perfectly isolated Little-England.
    The people calling the shots in London are English first and foremost. The binding gauze of Britishness is now an illusion only visible to those living on wishful thinking.

  • eamoncorbett

    I don’t understand your rationale, Britain decided to leave the EU based mostly on immigration issues without giving a thought to what it would mean outside of England, they now have a massive unforeseen problem that they can’t solve , they are too embarrassed to ask the same question again . Brexit has far reaching effects especially for this island , but Britain knew the rules before it departed and its disingenuous of Davis to blame the EU for an idea that a forceful minority in his own party wanted implemented.

  • eamoncorbett

    The EU won’t contemplate that , Barnier said the single market must be protected, no exceptions.

  • eamoncorbett

    It would also force Arlene and Michelle et al on to the dole ,as Stormont would not survive such an onslaught.

  • Georgie Best

    The fact is that the DUP are setting out to destroy the post 1998 order in NI.
    Arlene Foster today said ““The people of Northern Ireland delivered peace and stability,” “Yes, they were supported beyond these shores, but to suggest that exiting the EU will bring violence onto our streets is downright careless.”

    The people of NI did deliver the peace and now do not want Brexit and do regard it as a threat to peace, because the unwinding of a peace settlement inevitably risks going back to the situation before the settlement, yet Foster bulls ahead anyway.
    But the second sentence is even more serious as it implies that you can treat nationalists however you like, as long as they do not get the bombing going again then that is OK. This is dangerously close to implying that nationalists can only achieve political aims if they adopt violent methods, that discussion and representation is not enough as the DUP will simply ignore it. This is truly shocking.

  • Georgie Best

    Times have changed, many of these are interested in England and England alone.

  • Georgie Best

    The hard border might not last any longer than the next UK election and a Labour government, who would simply introduce sufficient autonomy for NI to be in the SIngle market.

  • Georgie Best

    Nonsense, there has been little enough in the way of customs since the 1965 Anglo Irish free trade agreement, before she was born.

  • Georgie Best

    Britain is responsible, they must take the blame.

  • Pang

    I think this is the first time the leaders of the Irish and British governments have disagreed publicly in a generation – perhaps since Albert Reynolds & John Major.

  • aquifer

    “There are a lot of things that Britain aspires to, in the context of Brexit, which I don’t believe to be compatible with the realities of the situation we’re facing.”

    Polite but firm, and why not. The Brits including the DUP have been mouthing inanitities about no return to a hard border, he just called them out. Doing them all a favour actually if it results in us remaining in the customs’ union.

  • aquifer

    Yep. British people won’t care if the NI Economy is denominated in Tayto crisps, the DUP will be outvoted when it suits.

  • aquifer

    A disgraceful and bloody draw and these nuts want a re-match. Intern them.

  • Obelisk

    But do the Belfast orientated MPs who now have such influence within the DUP agree with her?

    I suspect Arlene, and most Fermanagh/Border Unionists, has a greater grasp of the danger than people like Dodds or Wilson.

    They may grasp the danger intellectually, but I don’t think they grasp it emotionally. The idea of raising a hard border, with checkpoints, and a Union Jack flying proudly at each maybe too tempting for them to truly fight against.

  • aquifer

    Varadkar has a mandate. The DUP and Brexit have half a one if that. “Blackmail” is very rich coming from a 1 Bn. extortion gang paid by shady oligarchs.

  • Trasna

    Why will he fail? Ireland has a veto at this stage only.

  • Oriel27

    Aye, and you say that with a touch of glee. U do know within that area many a Sunday I spent in my youth clearing and reopening roads. and many a border rightful protests was held at the roslea installations – u want that back again ? It’s backwards u want Ireland to go.

  • Toye native

    Is it only 33 percent from the Catholic community want a UI, but if there is a hard brexit it jumps to 46

  • siouxchief
  • notimetoshine

    I think the Dublin government could deal with the border in the Irish Sea, indeed I think they would be happy with it, but I would love to know how the Conservatives could convince the DUP to acquiesce to that.

    Unfourtunately the EU can’t just leave Ireland behind on any deal, there is an Irish veto and I am increasingly convinced that the Irish government will use it if necessary. Besides the EU has made it abundantly clear that the Irish border issue is one of their red lines. London is going to have to scramble to negotiate with Dublin, but the DUP complicates what should be a relatively straightforward matter.

  • Gary McNiece

    Will be interesting to see how this pans out-was just saying the EU have a history of doing deals that suits its core members-ie Benelux countries plus Germany and France-Border in the Irish Sea would be difficult to say the least for the DUP-The other option would be for the EU to ignore the issue and leave it Dublin and London to sort out-ie ignore the issue-EU have a history of pretending problems do not exist,We shall see-One thing is for sure-no quick return to Stormont !!

  • Derrick O’Leary

    If voting rights for the presidential elections were extended to Northern Ireland and expats, it would apply to Irish citizens. Anyone born in Northern Ireland has Irish citizenship by birth, whether they take out a passport or not.
    Northern Ireland residents don’t have a vote at present only because Irish electoral law is based on residence within the state first, and a hierarchy of citizenship thereafter: All legal residents vote in local elections, only EU citizens vote in European elections, only Irish and British citizens can vote in general elections and only Irish citizens can vote in Presidential elections and referendums.

    Never understood the rush to get Irish passports, getting one doesn’t grant you citizenship. You can get one because you are already a citizen and you can’t lose that.

  • Derrick O’Leary

    Varadkar, I think, is playing the only cards he has in a lose-lose situation. Brexit is not just a matter for the UK, it has a direct impact on Ireland, both in terms of Ireland’s trade with and through the UK, and the effect on border areas.
    Brexit has created a very dangerous situation, threatening the economy of the Republic and of Northern Ireland – which would in turn affect the Republic. Whatever about England I can see no way at all that Brexit will be good for NI. Why invest in a tertiary adjunct of the UK when the mainland, preferably England, makes more sense? This is also why talk of Ireland leaving the EU is nonsense. The Republic’s economy is predicated on EU access, returning to a pre-EU invisibility hidden behind Britain is not an option.
    Brexit threatens the whole apple cart, the economy and the stability of the island.
    Varadkar has to push the danger as far away as possible; get the UK to stay in the common market, failing that get NI to stay in the common market, failing that get the strongest EU backing possible for the fallout. Hard-ball is his only option.
    The doomsday scenario he has to be aware of is…
    Brexiters don’t care about NI, would secretly be relieved if economic chaos forced NI to leave the UK and don’t care if this would eventually force a United Ireland under the worst possible economic circumstances for the island as a whole. He has no good options, but must play the least bad ones now.

  • Lagos1

    I agree with you about Varadkar playing his cards. And actually I think his recent statements have been as much for the consumption of the EU as the UK. As you say, he needs the EU to be flexible on the Irish situation as a whole, i.e. including the republic, in the post Brexit world. There are various things he might look for – e.g. all island approach to live animal movements; some upfront assurances for Ireland to have a stronger say over agrifood tarrifs/standards etc in trade negotiations,

    But I disagree with your assessment for Northern Ireland. Leaving the EU does not change its situation as a “tertiary adjunct”. In fact, it will now be able to better protected from the way the rest of Ireland has undercut it on taxation etc. I often hear how especially bad it is going to be for NI but I never really hear why. If anything, it may suffer less than the rest of the UK.

    And as for talk of Ireland leaving the EU being nonsense. Are you sure? THe EU is changing and not in a good way for Ireland. The Apple fiasco is just the start, and the handouts to the South have already dried up – Brexit may is going to make it worse. Furthermore, how will full membership of the EU stack up against EFTA membership? lets face it, Ireland has very little say in EU decision making (hence Leo’s posturing now before it is too late) and from an Irish export perspective the European single market has shrunk by a quarter. From a tariff advantage perspective, perhaps even further. Ideally, he might want a type of dealing combining aspects of what Norway has whilst remaining in the EU – now is his best moment for this type of deal. I only hope the Irish government has the imagination for this rather than simply declaring undying love for the EU and attempting to stop Brexit.

    I am also not sure about Brexiteers not caring our NI. Lets remember, it appears that quite a few live in NI. Furthermore, the Scottish referendum shows just how sentimentally unionist a lot of the prominent Brexiteers seem to be.

  • Lagos1

    UK is offering a soft border. Therefore if Ireland chooses to enforce a hard border due to EU decisions, then surely by your logic it will be Ireland that has breached the GFA?

  • Nordie Northsider

    Where are you FF, norn iron needs you?

    They’re in the same place they’ve been since announcing they would stand candidates here, over a decade ago.

  • The Saint

    This is an easy one.

    They can offer what they like but if it’s outside internationally established legal customs framework, which it would certainly appear to be, it’s about as feasable as me offering you Saturdays jackpot lotto numbers, not feasable.

    There is no choice in enforcing law, fiscal or otherwise it must be enforced.

    In the event of the UK excuseing itself from that framework, why on earth would Ireland be responsible?

    Brexit is indeed democratic, but it is also very much at odds with Belfast Agreement, the result of Brexit has always ment a hard border for Ireland.

    Unionism needs to smell the coffee, grand statements from London is not evidence of actual plans.

  • The Saint

    True story.

    I’m simply bemoaning the lack of variety of parties strong on national unity, with fiscal policies that make sense in this part of Ireland. The lack of toxicity in that party would also assist things along nicely.

  • Lagos1

    but if it’s outside internationally established legal customs framework, which it would certainly appear to be

    How does it appear to be?

    Every indication is that the UK is offering an FTA on more or less the current terms with equivalence in standards, thereby continuing with the status quo. This is wholly within internationally established legal customs framework. Therefore if Ireland rejects it, it will be the one, according to your logic, in breach of the GFA.

  • The Saint

    Is it more or is it less?

    Can you provide examples of trading partners EU/3rd country where your model of trade exists?

    This so called”offer” and reality are mutually exclusive.

    If you have genuinely convinced yourself that walking away from an open border arrangement is the fault of a nation that did not choose that direction, who am I to change your mind?

  • Lagos1

    Is it more or is it less?

    Well, we will find out when Ireland and the EU decide to talk about trade. The UK is waiting to talk about it. They are wanting to talk about it. And I have the impression that they want a comprehensive free trade agreement. In fact they have said as much. To date, all reluctance to continue with that is coming from the EU. In fact Ireland is now threatening not to block talking about it and that would be a breach of good faith with respect to the GFA.

    Can you provide examples of trading partners EU/3rd country where your model of trade exists?

    Sorry, you are shifting the goalposts. You are the one that has to provide evidence that what is on offer is outside internationally established legal customs framework. You were claiming that. It isn’t for me to provide examples of what the EU has chosen to agree to in the past. That is another question that is irrelevant.

    If you have genuinely convinced yourself that walking away from an open border arrangement is the fault of a nation that did not choose that direction, who am I to change your mind?

    You are begging the question. The point is that the UK isn’t
    walking away from an open border arrangement. It is offering to
    continue it. The side that refuses continuing free trade and
    recognition of standards is the one walking away. The UK is not doing that.

  • The Saint

    No shifting any goal post. The model for an open border is remain within customs union constructs that is within existing fiscal law.

    That is your model. If the UK wants to ammend that is a matter for the UK.
    Voting to leave a current model is very much walking away.
    I can see no model within the EU or with 3ed countries that fit the UK “want”, I do not see any precedent…..if your asking me for examples.

    But unionists and brexiteers alike will attempt to blame everyone but themselves.

    I say that the Irish sea border is eminently feasable and by some margin the easiest enforceable.

  • Derrick O’Leary

    Perhaps I should add a caveat then: barring either the collapse of the EU or it’s transformation into something with aims that are persistently against Ireland’s interest. But Ireland’s interests in the EU are also mutable. No longer is access to funds the key issue, Ireland has been a minor recipient for years and is now a net contributor. EU funds have always aimed to develop the underdeveloped. Continued handouts would mean continued failure to develop, they were always going to end unless Ireland failed to use them.
    Once a great deal of economic and infrastructural catch-up happened, the focus shifted to attracting investment.
    Access to the EU single market while being an English speaking country is probably the most important part of that and may become even more of a draw now. Which is why you already see moves, encouraged by the government, to diversify markets further from the UK. This trend will increase, at least while Brexit is in flux.
    Low corporate taxes were and still are a major draw, but will decreasingly be so and could never be a permanent policy: taxes will tend to converge either because Ireland is forced or finds need to raise them, or if it becomes seen as a major advantage, other states will stop whining and do the same. Relying on the tax rate alone would be as much evidence of failure as still needing handouts.
    Once you sell Ireland as an obvious place to invest (and eliminate remaining infrastructural problems such as public transport, city centre density and planning logjams) the low tax rate will no longer be so to defend. We already lose out on some investment to high tax states. Every stage in Ireland’s development has changed what Ireland needs the EU for. It is unlikely that Ireland could become economically important enough to be as attractive solely on its own merits.

    As for Northern Ireland, it is the least attractive part of the UK to invest in, it is over#reliant on the public sector and subventions from London. Now it will no longer have access to the EU.
    The position regarding share industrial output of NI v the Republic has reversed since independence when Belfast was the largest city on the island, do you claim that the stagnation of the NI economy relative to the Republic is because of EU membership? Plausibly I suppose it could be because of the troubles, but not for the last 20 years.
    Given that the province has so stagnated, that Brexit is primarily an English project viewed with distrust in the rest of the UK, that London clearly gave no consideration to Northern Ireland in planning this, I suggest it is unlikely that NI will get any better deal than it has up to now.
    I don’t see how Brexit stands to improve Northern Ireland’s position even if it improves Britain’s. And it’s not clear it will do that much. That some brxiters live in NI is…irrelevant. And sentimentality isn’t cash, nor does it always last the night. The most obvious result to me is bad news for Northern Ireland, it think you’re the one who needs to make the argument for how it could be good.

  • Lagos1

    No shifting any goal post.

    But you have. You have moved from talking about internationally established legal customs framework to examples of current arrangements between the EU and third countries.

    The model for an open border is remain within customs union constructs that is within existing fiscal law.

    An open border does not necessitate a customs union. You have yet to show that a FTA with the UK outside the EU customs union would not be legal.

    I can see no model within the EU or with 3ed countries that fit the UK
    “want”, I do not see any precedent…..if your asking me for examples

    I’m not asking you for examples. As I have said, what has been agreed by the EU in the past is irrelevant. The point is that if Ireland rejects a comprehensive FTA proposal by the UK then it will be the one making that choice. Tell me, why should Ireland want to do that or support that if it values the GFA? There is no reason why a FTA without membership of the customs union isn’t possible. The EU already does have FTAs in place with third countries if precedent is important to you.

  • Derrick O’Leary

    The open border is within the framework of the EU. The UK is leaving the EU. Ireland is not, and cannot make a separate FTA.
    Saying an open border is on offer is one thing, explaining how to make it happen when you don’t want to play by the same rules anymore is another. This, the UK has not done.

  • The Saint

    FTAs exist with EU correct. With open land borders? Doubt it.

    This is not about Ireland, to leave EU is a British decision, therefore the result of that are British made problems.

    Britons need to take ownership of the result I their decisions.

    Britain wants a bespoke arrangement, if that doesn’t exist then it is vital. We can’t all make up the rules as we go along, although this is a frequent British trait.

    The only people that should make a decision in the Irish border is people…..in Ireland.

    After that the Britons can really do as they jolly well please.

  • Lagos1

    FTAs exist with EU correct. With open land borders? Doubt it

    Doubt no longer. Switzerland has one. Ukraine is getting one. Just two examples off the top of my head. But now I’m just kicking the ball through your new set of goal posts seeing as you have forgotten where the original ones were.

    This
    is not about Ireland, to leave EU is a British decision, therefore the
    result of that are British made problems.

    Leaving
    the EU is indeed a UK decision. But that is not the same thing as
    continuing with an open border. The UK is more than willing to continue with that and has said so. THE GFA does not require continued EU membership, just commitment to what is to be delivered. So far the UK has not deviated from that. However, it appears that Ireland may do so because the EU will force it to. However, this would be a breach by Ireland.

    Britons need to take ownership of the result I their decisions.

    They have done. They have consistently reiterated commitment to an open border. They have already agreed continuance with the CTA. Cross border workers rights have already been agreed with the EU. They want to offer a comprehensive FTA that would keep the border open but no one will talk to them about it on the Irish side. What else do you expect from them?

    We can’t all make up the rules as we go along, although this is a frequent British trait.

    They are not making up the rules. They are following them meticulously. They are leaving the EU via article 50 of the Lisbon treaty. They are proposing to keep all their GFA commitments but are waiting for Ireland to respond. They want to agree an FTA fully in accordance with legal norms.

    The only people that should make a decision in the Irish border is people…..in Ireland.

    Well that would exclude the EU. .

  • Lagos1

    The open border is within the framework of the EU.

    But an open border can exist outside the framework of the EU. It is not dependent on it.

    The UK is leaving the EU. Ireland is not, and cannot make a separate FTA.

    Then that is a question that Ireland must resolve with its EU partners in order to be able to meet its side of its commitments.

    Saying an open border is on offer is one thing, explaining how to make
    it happen when you don’t want to play by the same rules anymore is
    another. This, the UK has not done.

    But it has done. Freedom of movement of people has already been resolved. It is also offering a comprehensive FTA with continuance of existing relevant tariffs and standards equivalency. If Ireland blocks that discussion then it is the guilty partner in failing to uphold its side of the deal.

  • The Saint

    Golly I was sure one had to make customs declarations on entry to Switzerland. Plus it is a member of shengen, apples and oranges. Is this the model of Irish border you want?

  • Paul Culloty

    No – overall population, according to October’s Lucid Talk poll.

  • lizmcneill

    An unforeseen problem that anyone who thought about NI for 5 minutes could foresee.

  • There were 220,000 Sinn Fein votes at the last AE. If these people turned out and voted for a Sinn Fein president, it makes it significantly more likely that their candidate weill be elected. Looking at 2011 presidential election, it would have doubled their vote. Marty still wouldn’t have won, but would have been second. SF have grown in popularity in the south since then, and with a less controversial figure, it could be a close run thing. Of course i am not ignoring the 3.3 million voters, but adding over 1 million to the franchise can change the game. Sure consider Corbyn was only 2500 votes from Downing street.

  • lizmcneill

    The UK position: “we want an open border but not to keep any of the rules that make an open border possible”.

    It’s like saying “I don’t want this divorce to get nasty” as you make off out the door with the car keys, the savings account, and the dog.

  • 250000 Sinn Fein voters came out to back candidates for the Westminster parliament which they do not recognise as having any jurisdiction over them. I can imagine Unionists being more pragmatic than boycotting. If it is seen to serve their interests in any way, i think they will vote.

  • The Saint

    Praise the Lord, some people do actually understand whats going on.
    Excellent analogy.

  • Lagos1

    You doubted that there were countries with land borders with the EU that
    had an FTA agreement with the EU. I provided examples. I did not say
    that the FTA with the UK and the way it was implemented had to be identical.

    Now, I am still waiting for you to provide evidence that what is on offer is outside internationally established legal customs framework.You said it was easy? So what’s the problem?

  • The Saint

    Im not sure I brought FTA into it at first If I got distracted between open border and FTA I apologise.

    Regardless FTA is insufficient to provide an open border in Ireland.

    Freedoms of movement people, services and goods must be preserved as they are today.

    No examples exist of a country entirely outside the EU with an entirely open border with the EU.

    Open to correction.

    We are talking EU here so examples in the rest of the world are irrelevant.

  • Lagos1

    Regardless FTA is insufficient to provide an open border in Ireland.

    I agree. But the existing FTA between Ireland and the UK within the framework of the EU is essentially why there is an open border today. The UK would be happy to continue with that, certainly with regard to what is relevant with respect to Ireland, without being a member of the EU itself. Therefore no change here.

    Freedoms of movement people, services and goods must be preserved as they are today.

    And the UK is happy for that to remain the case. And wants to cement it into a post-Brexit legal agreement as soon as possible. So where’s the problem?

    No examples exist of a country entirely outside the EU with an entirely open border with the EU.

    The degree of openess is dependent on the agreement. The UK wants as far reaching an agreement with respect to Ireland as possible. Even with the limited FTA that Switzerland has with the EU, lorries are usually pre-cleared and people cross very freely. It is effectively open at the border.

    We are talking EU here so examples in the rest of the world are irrelevant.

    All examples are irrelevant. The question is what actually prevents an open border in Ireland and whether the UK is proposing doing anything to close it. But it isn’t. And even without a FTA, the UK will not put up any obstacles at the border. It does not need to.

  • The Saint

    This is fine and dandy.

    But how does that fall into leaving the EU club?

    There are rules in the EU , I do not see how there cannot be border controls. Ire and UK know those rules well and regardless of UK “want” I don’t see how your suggestions do not fly in the face of facts.

    The only feasible solution that is not at odds of existing framework, is Irish sea border as far as I can see.

    You can offload that as much as you like on EU or Ireland but in reality it’s the direct consequence of the brexit vote.

  • The Saint

    We are going in circles I fear.

    All those grandiose things you mention are fantastic.

    But they are at odds with Brexit, they are at odds with EU membership, maybe even a sinister attempt to coerce all of Ireland out of EU.

    Cake and eat it? Not possible.

    Responsible party?
    Those that elected to compromise existing arrangements.

    The border must be the Irish sea.

  • Lagos1

    What rules do you have in mind? And are they rules that the UK is insisting on Ireland adopting? If not, then you can’t really pin the blame on the UK if it is perfectly happy to leave border arrangements as they are and is not providing any actual obstacle to that happening.

    I do not see how there cannot be border controls

    what would you need them for? Even if the UK offer of a comprehensive FTA is rejected, tariffs can be collected online. Standards can be regulated through audit of importer etc. The Irish border is not a major gateway for trade or people.

    The only feasible solution that is not at odds of existing framework, is Irish sea border as far as I can see.

    But how realistic is it to expect the UK to pay taxes to the EU to move goods within the UK? And who will pay the NI fees for being part of the customs union? I can’t see the idea of the UK doing this in order for goods from GB to be discriminated against? And what is the interest for NI considering that trade with GB is far greater than with the EU? To be honest, Ireland remaining in customs union with the UK actually makes far more sense.

    However, where I think an Irish sea border would make sense, and where agreement could be easily reached is with regard to live animal movements. This would make a good deal of sense and I don’t actually think either the UK or the EU would object to it.

    You can offload that as much as you like on EU or Ireland but in reality it’s the direct consequence of the brexit vote.

    I really do understand the irritation that Ireland might have regarding all this. And yes, it wouldn’t be an issue without Brexit. But that doesn’t mean that this implies that the UK is to blame if we end up with a closed border. The proposals that it has made and is ready to make would avoid it.

  • The Saint

    In relation to energy and agribusiness I’m almost certain we operate on an all Ireland basis as is, as far as I’m aware.

    It will be no harm for NI to wean itself off mother England and I doubt she would object to much either.

    Ireland’s irritation at the UK attempting to drag it out of the EU, you can say that again. That is not atall an acceptable solution either. EU has practically universal support in Dail Eireann and the public?

    So what is?

    We’re in rock or hard place territory, I’d submit that division of Ireland requires the decision of the people of Ireland ala Belfast Agreement.

    NI is a minor market for GB companies, 1.5mn people. Customs checks in Larne and Belfast will be a minor inconvenience to get goods into a market of 6.5mn people then onto a further 250mn

  • Lagos1

    In relation to energy and agribusiness I’m almost certain we operate on an all Ireland basis as is, as far as I’m aware.

    The energy market isn`t really a physical border issue as such. But the agribusiness obviously is.

    It will be no harm for NI to wean itself off mother England and I doubt she would object to much either.

    I don`t know many businesses that want to be weaned off from their main customers. I think that is the main argument against Brexit in general. Taking NI out of customs union with its main market would be even worse.

    Ireland’s irritation at the UK attempting to drag it out of the EU

    Did the UK leave voters really vote in order to attempt that? I haven`t seen much evidence of that. If anything, the complaint I have heard is that they didn`t consider Ireland enough in their voting decision.

    EU has practically universal support in Dail Eireann and the public?

    For now.

    NI is a minor market for GB companies, 1.5mn people. Customs checks in
    Larne and Belfast will be a minor inconvenience to get goods into a
    market of 6.5mn people then onto a further 250mn

    But GB isn`t a minor market for NI. And it isn`t the customs checks themselves that would really be the issue. And why would GB want to transit its goods to continental Europe through Ireland? Even for exports from the South, most of them currently transit through GB on their way to the Continent.

  • John Laverty

    It seems to me that the Brexiteers and their xenophobic and myopic phalanx are inexorably and insidiously taking the UK to the brink of economic and social catastrophe. Praxis and rational thinking would surely argue that article 50 ought to be revoked as soon as possible before real and lasting structural harm drives the UK over the edge and into national oblivion. The referendum that gave rise to this jingoistic movement to give birth to an illusory Pax Britannica is as idiotic as it is illusory. Advisory referenda are not constitutionally binding; and the narrow victory gained by the ‘out-camp’ ought to be retested in another referendum based on predictive facts and not on the notion of myopic and romanticised nationalism! It seems that the ‘barmy army’s are intent on wreaking economic and social havoc on the masses and for generations. The UK is on a collision course with itself and with its European neighbours – in truth, the UK is walking blindly and foolishly into a Brexextential moment that will surely precipitate economic and social decline on a scale not seen for generations. Remainders of the UK: articulate your arguments: prepare yourselves for a battle-royal! The leavers must see sense before it is to late.