Foster sets out the DUP view of a “Sensible Brexit”

The DUP Leader, Arlene Foster has set out her stall to members of the Lagan Valley DUP Association last night as to what she views as a “sensible Brexit.”

I have highlighted some of the key passages;

Some time ago I set out our Party’s desire to see not a hard Brexit or a soft Brexit but a sensible Brexit. A Brexit that works for Northern Ireland and for the whole of the United Kingdom.

A sensible Brexit means that we want to see the continuation of the Common Travel Area.

A sensible Brexit means that we recognise our responsibility to meet our financial obligations.

A sensible Brexit means that we want to avoid a cliff edge for businesses by having a strictly time limited implementation period.

A sensible Brexit means that we value the contribution that EU migrants make to our economy and society and that we will support a new border policy that is strong but practical.

And a sensible Brexit will involve a comprehensive trade and customs agreement between the United Kingdom and the European Union.

What is not sensible is proposing isolating Northern Ireland from its largest market.

I do not deny that the Republic of Ireland is an important market for many Northern Ireland exporters. But why do some seem so oblivious to the reality that our most important trading partner is Great Britain?

They forget – or do they choose to ignore – the fact that 72% of trade from Belfast Harbour is with Great Britain.

That almost two thirds of local agri-food produce goes to elsewhere in the UK.

And that Northern Ireland manufacturing sales to Great Britain are worth six times more than those to the Irish Republic.

It makes no sense whatsoever to move the border to the Irish Sea and make trade with our biggest market – the rest of the United Kingdom – more difficult.

That’s why I recently wrote to the Heads of Government of each of the 27 EU Member States outlining how the Democratic Unionist Party wants to retain the close trade and other linkages that we have built up with the Republic of Ireland over many years but that we will not countenance anything that compromises our access to the United Kingdom market.

Those who have allowed this to become some sort of zero sum game, framing it as a mutually exclusive choice between maintaining the constitutional and economic integrity of the UK and continued close cross-border relations, do us all a great disservice. It is up to all of us who want to see a sensible Brexit to face up to the challenge and craft a solution that works for Northern Ireland

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  • Devil Éire

    Thank you for the update. Some softening may be evident but it is clear that Norway is not yet ready to welcome the UK into EFTA with open arms. From your linked piece:

    [The Norwegian PM] cited farming as one example of a possible conflict of interest. Britain exported food and drink worth 18 billion pounds ($24 billion) in 2015 while Norway imposes high import barriers to protect farmers in a country that stretches into the Arctic.

    “I don’t think that the EFTA path is necessarily the way Britain should be interested in going,” she said.

  • David Crookes

    Watch out for the offer of even more loads of money plus a border on this side of the Irish Sea. Remember youse heard it here first.

  • 05OCT68

    Can anyone shed some light on UK’s direct link to the EU that is the channel tunnel? Is this any different than NI’s border with the EU? What proposals have been offered re: the tunnel? Have the UK & the EU sorted that out yet?

  • 05OCT68

    “There is no sensible brexit. The term is an oxymoron” Or as Michael Bloomberg, billionaire free marketeer (five times richer than Trump) put it “Brexit is stupidest thing any country has done besides Trump”.

  • John

    Sorry, I have no idea what you are trying to say.

  • NotNowJohnny

    This is such a blindingly obvious answer to the DUPs situation and given that the DUP holds the balance of power in the HoC it seems remarkable that Foster isn’t using the DUPs veto to ensure such an outcome. Except that in the absence of an Executive she’s now a lame duck leader and her bunch of smirking Westminster MPs currently enjoying their brief moment in the bed of the loony Tory right won’t countenance such a move.

  • John

    I am self-employed and will remain so only as long as my customers (constituency) feel I am supplying them with what they are prepared to pay for. I may be able to con my customers for a while, but only for a short time, at which point my business is gone.
    If my vote helps someone get elected in my mind that person is my representative, representing MY interests if and when I feel that person ceases to represent MY interests the contract is ended, I simply take my vote elsewhere. Parliament and political parties are a means to an end NOT an end in themselves.

  • Lagos1

    why would business stay in the South if it could straddle both the EU and the UK by relocating to the North? The best reason would be a lower business rate in the South but post Brexit the EU will try and get Ireland to raise it whereas NI will be able to lower theirs.

  • Roger

    What about the UK giving up it’s soverignty to be subsumed into EU member Ireland? An ‘inverse Brexit’?

  • Korhomme

    Not heard that before…doubt if the Brexiteers would be happy. Sovereignty and taking back control and all that.

  • Korhomme

    Which is why at an election, you can vote them out and another in. Elections aren’t a permanent choice, but a referendum apparently is.

  • Sean Danaher

    Stephen
    I don’t know of any studies but it might be analogous to the Rotterdam Effect where goods shipped to the EU via Rotterdam are then on-shipped/trucked outside the EU. This became very politicised with Leave groups trying for a top end estimate and remain for a bottom end. If I remember correctly the port of Rotterdam though the figures were small in the region of a few percent.

  • Zorin001

    Do we know who is for “Soft” and “Hard” Brexit within the DUP? Certainly McCausland and Wilson strike me as being ideological Hard Brexiters and i’m sure their not the only ones.

    Foster was in DETI long enough, she knows how the NI economy works; I can’t see here in her heart of hearts wanting to push a solution that ends in a hard border no matter what. I suspect though that losing the support of some of the DUP base vote and the fear of a challenge from the Right of the party is playing on her mind.

  • Zorin001

    50/50.

    This whole situation plays into Blair’s messianic mindset. He probably sees himself as the white-hated cowboy, coming over the hill on his stallion to save the people from themselves; i’ve no doubt the though appeals to him.

    HOWEVER he (and others) aren’t wrong to suggest that long term this situation has the possibility to end up in renewed violence, though on what level of severity would be hard to judge. It would be negligent to not at least consider the possibility of this occurring though at the moment it doesn’t seem likely.

    Of course in 1968 the idea of Northern Ireland being plunged into 30 years of civil conflict probably seemed remote too. None of us have crystal balls so we should dismiss nothing out of hand.

  • John

    Perhaps it is a good way to control our “employees” and reminding them who THEIR bosses really are.

  • Smithborough

    I cant speak for unionists, but practical problems seem to be:
    1. Tariffs & regulatory barriers in GB/NI trade (4 times the size of N/S trade).
    2. A shift to an all-Ireland economy would seem to involve a big increase in cost of living in NI, to be on par with South.
    3. NI being public sector dependent will get money from Westminster in Sterling, but pay in Euro. Likely effect of Brexit would be to devalue Sterling.
    4. Sui generis arrangement seems more based on theoretical idea of a soft border than economic realities. It doesn’t sound like something attractive to inward investment.

  • Michael Dowds

    The Eurotunnel is only one of the UK’s direct links to the EU. There are very many more of these direct links crossing from NI (i.e. UK) to RoI (i.e. EU). An obvious point, but…

    The sum of the diameter of the three tunnels comprising the Eurotunnel is ~20m with the tunnels being secured at both ends. Passengers on the trains are checked for passports on entry to the UK.

    The NI/RoI border is nearly 500km long, with over 200 crossing points. Passport checks are (almost never) required.

    Do you REALLY need to ask whether there’s a difference?

  • Lagos1

    Not sure what the economic arguments are for her to want NI to stay in the CU and SM on a general basis. I am sure she is well aware of NI trade flows to remain against it apart from with respect to specific sectors.

  • runnymede

    ‘we could quite easily check cargo while it’s sitting on the boat, inconveniencing no-one’

    Oh crikey this is naive stuff. Also slightly amusing – Remain fanatics assure us that such checks between UK and EU will be catastrophic for economic activity, while apparently between NI and GB they will ‘inconvenience no-one’…

  • runnymede

    Both, but the former especially

  • runnymede

    Ireland should leave the EU and join a customs union with the UK.

    Failing that, we have a Norway-Sweden style border with some upgrades e.g. customs checks (which will be minimal on the UK side at least) taking place inland.

  • Barnesian

    Arlene says “A sensible Brexit will involve a comprehensive trade and customs agreement between the United Kingdom and the European Union.”

    I notice she doesn’t mention the need to negotiate FTAs with other countries.

    So the solution for the DUP, and the solution to the Irish border problem, is to insist to their Tory colleagues, that the UK stays in the current customs union. This solves the border and EU trade problems. The only downside is that Liam Fox loses his job.

  • Marcus Orr

    Well, “falling apart” is perhaps overly dramatic, but it is undeniable that Europhile David Cameron’s decision to call a referendum (not really a tool supposed to be used in a parliamentary democracy like the UK) has given us a real constitutional crises.
    We now have a parliament, a civil service, a judiciary, who want overwhelmingly to remain in the EU, having to respect the referendum vote of the people, with the UK Supreme Court having declared (correctly) that the referendum vote is not binding on Parliament. Cameron, an EU-lover who just called the darned referendum because his party was shipping too many votes to UKIP, has left us in a complete mess. The only way that we can sensibly leave the EU (a goal I completely identify with) is if we had elected a party to government on exactly that mandate and with candidates selected in advance and campaigning on that ticket. Then we would not have the present nightmare, with a conservative government which was strongly majority remain until recently trying to persuade everyone that it will respect the referendum mandate (secretly cursing the population) and having to fight off pro-remain Labour, LibDems, SNP etc. not to mention the circus in Northern Ireland.

  • Barneyt

    I take your point. It’s technically a land border but created amicably between two existing countries. No new jurisdiction emerged nor were communities split when it formed. The other thing is, this is just one link and the border has 300 or so. So on the grand scale the tunnel sorts itself out as it’s function was designed and it is no more than a bridge connecting two lands.

  • Zorin001

    “The only downside is that Liam Fox loses his job.”

    And lo there was much rejoicing!

  • Barneyt

    It was always going to serve up the possibility of reunification or minimally provoke calls for it with greater justification. The DUP took a strange path here especially when it was a lose lose for them. They’ve won little presently and had brexit lost then they would be written off by GB as isolationists. I don’t know if they got lucky with the brexit result or not to be honest.

  • Lagos1

    The only downside is that Liam Fox loses his job.

    And that we remain stuck behind the EU tariff wall with no say. Worst of all worlds. There is an argument for staying in the EEA/single market aka Norway. Not so much the customs union.

  • Barnesian

    If we stay in the Customs Union, we inherit all the current 60 EU FTAs which otherwise we have to renegotiate, – and benefit from future FTAs. (Forget a US FTA. Fake news. It will not be in our interest. Sad.)

    I agree the downside is that we would have no say, but it is the least worst option if we have to leave the EU. The best option by far, of course, is to stay in the EU.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    “The only downside is that Liam Fox loses his job.”
    That did make me smile.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    communities split, come off it Barney. Half of my family is from the border and the clan found itself on both sides it (in Tyrone/Donegal) in 1921 – but it hardly “split the community”. One lot just had pink number plates.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Georgie, we agree on this – DUP should have been pushing CU membership big time and should have made it a condition of propping up the government.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    no border at the sea, that is a red line and not a bluff.

    The interesting negotiation might be around a kind of devo max, which allows NI to shadow EU regulations in some areas. Difference with rest of the UK is OK within the remit of devolution, as long as it doesn’t throw up trade barriers with the rest of UK. How trade barriers between NI and the rest of UK can be avoided in that scenario is I guess what’s been keeping the eggheads up all night. But ultimately isn’t it the same circle-squaring exercise people have said can’t be done at the land border, just moved somewhere else that suits nationalists better emotionally? Seems like it. But let’s see what they come up with in Bruxelles.

  • sparrow

    ‘But ultimately isn’t it the same circle-squaring exercise people have said can’t be done at the land border, just moved somewhere else that suits nationalists better emotionally?’
    It can’t be done and enforced / policed across a 300km land border which has hundreds of crossing points, more if you were able to count the unofficial ones. It can de done at a handful of sea ports, where the infrastructure is already in place. It’s the emotion of unionists which is warping the logic here, not that of nationalists.

  • Lagos1

    Whilst it would take time, there is no reason why all the current EU FTAs couldn’t be rolled into a UK specific form. And this could mean they become even better because they won’t be compromised to take account of Spanish orange growers etc.

    And not having a say would be a huge downside for the UK. Even Turkey is starting to bridle at their current arrangement.

    And of course the further downside is that the EU tariff wall is generally a bad thing for the UK.

    The best option by far, of course, is to stay in the EU.

    I never found the case, other than the fear of the short term disruption of leaving, as a compelling one for the UK to stay in the EU. I think it is a mistake to think that the EU is as beneficial to the UK as it is to other countries, such as for example the ROI.

  • Zorin001

    Could Foster come through such a volte-face undamaged though? I still think there are a number of members of the party who don’t trust her/would undermine her.

  • Nevin

    What will happen to the Jean Monnet chairs in UK universities?

  • John Devane

    Agreed. Tony Blair is a thoroughly discredited politician and a hard-line Europhile. He simply cannot accept the democratic decision the UK made to leave the EU superstate

  • Sean Danaher

    Korhomme
    Mike Galsworthy posted a video on the embarrassment theme last night
    https://www.facebook.com/scientistsforeu/videos/1209396475829026/

  • Barneyt

    I’m not talking about a Berlin style wall or something you might see in Korea or Cyprus but it placed a wedge in so many ways, it served to split. Try living on the Armagh/ Louth border during the 70’s. Roads bombed and massive steel baracades physically preventing access. Sometimes you were turned away from the border. Talking personally here. That has also had a splitting and divisive effect. You seem to be suggesting that the border perhaps had no impact on the island? Is that your suggestion?

  • hgreen

    Looks like the UK are about to agree to Dublin’s demands for no regulatory divergence on the island of Ireland. Where does this leave the DUP?

  • Angry Mob

    The other EFTA states have all expressed a desire for the UK to join along with senior official from EFTA itself such as Carl Baudenbacher, the court chief.

    As for Norway there are multiple factors in play here, the governing party the Conservatives are strongly pro-EU and wish Norway to join itself, a stronger EFTA with the UK would make that harder to pull off with a EU-sceptic population. The opposition Centre Party who are EU-sceptic have strongly advocated the UK joining EFTA. Norway biggest export market is the UK itself at $18.5 billion, a trade agreement is evidently in its own interest not to mention the historic alliance we have shared with Norway. Barnier has hinted at the EEA/EFTA route.

    Finally a more recent article from September: Ulf Sverdrup, director of the Norwegian Foreign Policy Institute (NUPI), said: “If the UK and the EU agree that the best solution is a membership of the EFTA-EEA, it will be very politically difficult for Norway to say no.”

    https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/852607/Brexit-news-latest-EU-EEA-EFTA-Norway-model-deal-David-Davis-European-Union

  • sparrow

    I think it leaves us all looking at a General Election in the New Year, if that report is accurate.

  • Angry Mob

    Hopefully it will mean pursuing no regulatory divergence in the entirety of the UK and remaining in the single market.

  • hgreen

    That would be the sensible approach. The Brexit hard liners in the Tory party wouldn’t stomach it though.

  • hgreen

    Yep. It also leaves the DUP looking like a complete laughing stock.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Aren’t you confusing the security measures in some border areas due to IRA activity – now gone because the IRA stopped – and the border per se?

  • NotNowJohnny

    If the DUP has any political wit (which it has shown a complete lack of in the past) it will swiftly make a statement to the effect that if the reports are accurate it will no longer support the UK leaving the customs union and single market. Now over to you Teresa May.

  • LiamÓhÉ

    This would be a good idea, as it is the best-case scenario to have the whole UK within, but failing that we get NI in and GB out, or the collapse of the Brexit Gov. Bit early for the champagne yet, but…

  • NotNowJohnny

    You could get both.

  • Obelisk

    That would be a masterstroke if they did it.

  • Zorin001

    Sammy says No Surrender (on regulatory alignment)

  • NotNowJohnny

    Half Time Score

    Nationalists 1 (Foster o.g.) Unionists 0

  • john millar

    “You to have understand that the unionists do not want NI to thrive, they want the continuation of a large subsidy from London whose size puts talk of unification off the table.”

    Given the demands which produce ” the subsidy ” would you be good enough to identify where most of the subsidy is spent and who benefits most from it ?

  • Kevin Breslin

    I apologize, I couldn’t find a 1 syllable word for Belgium or Brussels … best I could come up with was “one of two place cross the sea near the Dutch and French with the Flem folk in it.”

  • Roger

    Well. There could be practical issues with it. Leinster House would need a bigger debating chamber for one thing.

  • Georgie Best

    The Armagh/Louth border had few lasting barricades, people moved any that were placed there, the people over in Fermanagh/Monaghan/Cavan border had much greater British harrassment in this respect.

  • Georgie Best

    NI will be in the CU and SM, what she needs to do is keep GB in the CU and SM.

  • Georgie Best

    Hamilton has not been noted for making pro Brexit speeches.

  • Georgie Best

    It would be very interesting to know where the subsidy is spent. But the point is not the spending, but it is the lack of production in NI, which is not sufficient to fund the spending.

  • The strangest thing about this negotiation is the way the DUP chose to spell out a hard line position prior to the talks.

    What does that indicate – probably that they feel they are left out of the negotiations.
    Why are they frozen out of the negotiations so completely given the key position of the North-South question? Is it because the Conservative government doesn’t want to consult them, doesn’t want to listen to them? Perhaps.

    In any case, their statement ( http://www.mydup.com/news/article/foster-dup-wants-to-see-a-sensible-brexit ) is a dubious one to make to the constituency association, and to have sent by letter to the EU governments. Are they really deliberately trying to make themselves sound unreasonable?

    Anyone have the text of the letter they sent – it must have been leaked somewhere.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    it’s unravelling …

  • Lagos1

    Really? Perhaps. But so far no confirmation that this is true. More likely that it will involve standards in particular areas. However, if it is more comprehensive then, whilst it might work in terms of the SM, the CU would be bad news unless the ROI killed its economy by somehow managing to get NI in the fortunate position of being in both the EU CU and the UK CU simultaneously. But the GB would be utterly mad to leave the EU and remain in the CU.

  • lizmcneill

    With a veto over UK trade deals? The Brexiteers are going to live that.

  • John

    If at first you do not succeed, try, try and try again.

  • NotNowJohnny

    Did May welch on it?

  • john millar

    The subsidy is spent on- education- NHS -social security payments – now –again where does the burdens created by these fall?

  • John Devane

    Apologies aside I haven’t a clue what point you’re trying to make.

    A united states of the EU. Schultz………. says it all. Still in denial?

  • Kevin Breslin

    I take Schulz’s views on the direction of Europe as seriously as I take Boris Johnson’s views on the direction of Britain.

    Not very seriously.

    Schulz was happy to play the nation card throughout that SPD conference, but franky I’m surprised you are angry at his aspiration to give European nations a take it or leave it choice with regards to federalism, given you have argued for exactly that from the other side of the fence to me before.

    Europe will do things at its own pace.

    It seems to me that it’s only the Brexiteers who want others to move ground and assimilate for their sake.

  • John Devane

    Not angry more just stating the obvious. It’s no secret now the direction of travel for the Common Market EEC and now the EU is a federal EU superstate

  • Kevin Breslin

    You clearly didn’t read what I obviously wrote. Clearly you must be too obsessed by wanting full British control over the Irish border region to acknowledge that the European Union has a broad political spectrum too.

    Shultz’s view is even a minority opinion in the SPD, you don’t care because obviously it’s better that the people of Ireland lay down for the benefit of the rich elites in Westminster than work with people who speak foreign languages I take it.

    As I said before people can aspire to federalism, but the EU has been very clear about the role of the nation state.

    The fact that the UK isn’t a federal entity is why DUP MPs are looking for special powers to determine the UK’s future that democratically they shouldn’t be entitled to.

    It’s obvious to me what has brought this rant about John. Resignation!

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/bdaf9e3ef9ec1b1803aad4e67024fc85513817f104cfba28d1dd408c0fbc3eff.jpg

  • John Devane

    The EU has been clear on the role of the nation state? Yes eradicate it. You’re in denial about the ever closer federal ambitions of the EU

  • Kevin Breslin
  • Kevin Breslin
  • Kevin Breslin