Staring the economic gift-horse in the mouth

As Theresa May placed the British negotiating team into reverse yesterday afternoon many in the business community here in the north realised that what they see as a best case scenario for Brexit is within their grasp.

In today’s Belfast Telegraph Seamus Lehany of the Freight Transport Association said that the proposals could “help attract inward investment and make the north “a bridge between the UK and EU”.

He called the potential deal “a good thing from the movement of goods and supply chains”.
“Ultimately it’s something we would welcome, that goods will not be inhibited across the border.”

President of the NI Chamber of Commerce Ellvena Graham urged negotiators to be pragmatic :
“The companies we work with want a trade relationship between the UK and the EU that is tariff free and which takes account of the all-island supply chain, particularly in the crucial agri-food sector.

“Northern Ireland Chamber has long been urging negotiators to reach a pragmatic agreement on withdrawal issues, so that we can move on swiftly to transition and trade talks.”

Manufacturing NI tweeted that :

“Being a bridge between the UK and the EU need not undermine sincerely held views on identity and would not require any additional barriers to trade. Instead, it would present an extraordinary opportunity to create more wealth and work.”

Alliance MLA Stephen Farry also sees the opportunity for the north to be a ‘bridge’ between Britain and the EU.

“This is about recognising the interdependent nature of the economy on the island of Ireland but also with the rest of the UK. This is not an either/or choice. Rather it allows Northern Ireland to be a bridge to both Europe and the rest of the UK. This could be a massive opportunity – a real economic game-changer for us.”

A week is a long time in politics and the argument that the north be a ‘bridge’ to Britain could soon be redundant if Theresa May decides that her best option is to put England, Scotland and Wales in regulatory alignment with the rest of the EU too.

Regardless of that its important that our local businesses and those representing them continue to make their voices heard and indeed, given the gravity of these talks, they to need to speak louder.

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  • ‘island man

    Half of the population of the north don’t care how the UK voted. They don’t have solidarity with people from a different island with a different culture and a different way of life. Wreck NI because English people are the 1st class citizens of the realm, haha, no chance. Irish nationalists don’t care about such nonsense and it’s about time unionists woke up to it too.

  • Surveyor

    Even Arlene’s constituency voted to remain.

  • Surveyor

    You’ve being posting on Slugger on an almost constant basis for the past month in regards to Brexit. Never have I seen a man so worried about something.

  • ‘island man

    That’s what’s needed, a moderation of language – no one is talking about a customs barrier with GB, goods will move the same as before but with some extra regulations on produce coming from the EU. No one in NI will even see these regulations take place, unlike a customs border inland.

  • Máire

    yes it is. The Irish constitution of 1937, Article 4 grants two official names Éire or Ireland.  It was as Ireland that it joined the United Nations in 1955, and the European Union in 1973. And in the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 the Irish Government is referenced as the Government of Ireland. Ireland is also the name of the country on the Irish passport. The Republic is a description of what Ireland is, but it’s official name is Ireland.

  • ‘island man

    What talk of a border poll? I haven’t heard much about one in several months. You can be guaranteed though, that if yesterdays deal doesn’t go through, and there’s a border in Ireland, you’ll be hearing a lot more about one in the near future.

  • ‘island man
  • Barneyt

    Brokenshire has been quiet come to think of it….

  • Barneyt

    Won’t customs form somewhere though. Gb goods can come into ni. They have to stay there. Problem/opportunity 1. Goods come into ni from the ROI. They have to stay there. Problem/opportunity 2. If there is a major cost, tariff and quality discrepancy between gb goods and that of the eu, which in some way includes ni…. what is to be done? There will have to be some sort of monitoring between the two islands and that means a customs lite in all ports. Jobs?

  • Barneyt

    Seems quiet on here too with respect to nationalist/republican comment in general ?

  • Tochais Siorai

    We on 1/6 of this island…….. Carry on.

  • Barneyt

    You think that true. I thought the official unionists were failing to represent the unionist working class and that gave rise to the DUP? Ok they’re not doing much either but you get my point

  • Barneyt

    Had Scotland voted 90% remain it may have made a difference . Only then. Impossible for outer regions to have a real say

  • Barneyt

    Part of uk you mean

  • Barneyt

    Don’t ….. please

  • John

    As I am a poor simple rural peasant that would not be something to crow about.
    However lets review recent performance,

    1) The “I did nothing wrong” RHI scheme (designed and implemented by “she’s” department) set to blow a £500,000,000+ hole in the public purse. That’s quite a few new knees, hips etc.
    2) Refused a get out of jail free card from Martin by refusing to step aside for a couple of weeks whilst a few buckets of whitewash was thrown over “she’s” misdemeanours. Result assembly disappears.
    3) Took an IOU for £1 billion written with invisible ink.
    4) Blocks a deal which puts N. Ireland in a unique position for accessing the EU.

    You are absolutely correct, truly a remarkable “she”

  • Sub

    I am playing the ball. The DUPs views belong in the 17th Century hence the comparison. The earth is not 6000 years old, Gays are not an abomination they are human beings who should have the same rights as every other citizen. Me and people like me do pay our rates despite Sammy Wilsons claims, neither are we reptilian.

  • Sub

    Thats not logic thats appealing to base sectarian instincts.

  • Marcus Orr

    “The earth is not 6000 years old, Gays are not an abomination”
    Every member of the DUP said that and every voter (all 300’000 of them last election) thinks that ?

  • sparrow

    Fair point, well made.

  • Marcus Orr

    It’s certainly a part of Ireland….

  • Tochais Siorai

    For another wee while anyway……..

  • Neiltoo

    An interesting take on how those that support the union may see that gift horse from Owen Polley.

    https://reaction.life/deal-irish-border-really-threaten-good-friday-agreement-not-way-think/

  • Marcus Orr

    Between 1/4 and 1/3 of this island according to population. But anyway, carry on, we in the North don’t count and all that…

  • Ruairi Murphy

    That logic means there is no future for unionism.

  • Ruairi Murphy

    All of these interactions are truly depressing. Contributions on this site have taken a nosedive in quality and civility. Can only think the current climate is causing serious polarisation again.

  • aquifer

    There is much more trade between ROI and Britain that will need sorted out for customs than between NI and Britain, so why not just lump the NI stuff in with the ROI deliveries?

    I really don’t want a high tensile wire fence on the border, especially one that will be cut to bits in a fortnight. Nobody is going to drain the Irish sea to drive some fags over.

  • jporter

    It’s interesting that by refusing ‘regulatory alignment’ in NI only, the DUP could end up pushing it UK-wide and hence facilitate a softer Brexit.
    There seems to be mixed messages on this at the moment – when Ruth Davidson suggested it, the DUP seemed to agree, yet when David Davis has suggested similar, it is being reported that the DUP have dismissed it. I have to say I’m slightly confused.
    It did occur to me today that yesterday’s shenanigans could well be the play for a no deal Brexit by the Tory right wing (and blame it on Ireland and the EU) – the question is how are the DUP involved? The idea that the DUP might accept a softer Brexit muddies the waters.

  • Oggins

    Agree, but it is up to the UK government to decide on what best suits them. If they go for special status or a sea border, then it is that

  • runnymede

    So as I mentioned earlier today, to some incredulity on the part of some Slugger readers, it does indeed seem that top ‘remainer’ UK civil servants put forward a draft proposal that was totally unacceptable not just to the DUP but also to most Tories. There is real fury against Robbins and Heywood now – things are moving fast and May’s position is close to untenable I would say.

    Take a look in the Irish Times for the wording,,,

  • Neiltoo

    Where are you getting that from?

  • Cadogan West

    I think his Piles are playing up, all that sitting about in the NIO!

  • jporter

    The DUP and ‘most Tories’ do not represent the UK as a whole. The ‘outrage’ that we keep hearing about in response to the slightest dilution of Brexit is essentially a Tory party and UK right wing press bubble.
    Granted they’ve been pretty successful so far in convincing folk that this is the UK-wide view but the evidence shows it most certainly isn’t.
    Wider and powerful interests such as UK industry have been keeping relatively quiet so far, but you can bet they will become a lot more vocal if we approach the cliff edge of a no deal Brexit. It seems to me the DUP/Tory right are in danger of overplaying their hand here. Perhaps they see it as their one opportunity.
    If the negotiations crash this week and it is declared that a deal is undoable, do you really think that UK business, Parliament and other interests will simply sit back, say ‘Oh well, no deal, WTO rules it is then, let’s get on with it’?
    It will be an interesting week for sure.

  • Jess McAnerney

    The DUP are aligned with those who want a hard no deal brexit implemented immediately so they can negotiate trade deals everywhere sooner
    They only want a soft border if it is the same as that of GB
    The special status offer will be taken from us and if GB fail to get the deal they are expecting, they will suffer for decades and we will be crucified
    This is not acceptable, neither the DUP or the brits can gamble with our futures

  • Cadogan West

    In the old days there was just the UUP, Estate workers, factory workers in Mackies, tenants all voted for UUP ascendancy candidates, when O’Neill tried to get business going between North and South, Paisley set up the DUP and the great unwashed followed him onto the streets. He often compared Paisley’s FP street campaign with that of the Nazis in the 1930s, both attracted the disillusioned working class. The better educated either left NI altogether or kept voting UUP. Paisley’s legacy is a weakened unionism, we are witnessing its Gotterdammerung.

  • Oggins
  • John

    Good luck to unionism.

  • Rapparee

    It`s indicative of absolute panic, I can nearly sense the beads of sweat from the desperation to do a King Canute and hold back the tide. Never have I seen a man virtually paddle so furiously just to stay still. Its very telling and shows the total insecurity of unionism. The fear of imminent abandonment is palpable.

  • John

    The tories gave many millions of people to say “a plague on all your houses” to the legions of politicos, civil servants, bankers and hangers on living off their labours and having a laugh at their expense.

  • John

    Please explain the concept of democracy to me.

  • Oggins

    Or Unionist being paranoid. As a nationalist in the north I can clearly tell you right now, the south has no want to unite us either under a FG or FF government. The only time they would consider this, is in the event of a border pole and 50+1. Not too long ago this was at best 30ish%, even at the claimed 40+% there was a significant portion of people to be persuaded and that wasn’t for happening with the current set up. But this could be changing in the short emotional tim by a lot of middle voters who are fecked off with Tories and litter Englanders lack of regard to us, or a complete balls up of Brexit. See the previously posted article by BH.

    The south wants to make sure that the people of our island are not adversely effected by a hard Brexit. Be that socially, culturally or economically.

    Something that the GB Brexiters didn’t actually say, you know what, let’s have Brexit but stay in the common market because it would cause havoc in NI. FG would be done if they allowed a hard Brexit, it would blow their support completely.

    Your anger should be directed at those who voted for Brexit and the DUP for rightly messing up the process

    Your asking SF to pipe down on the border poll talk, you really must be missing one of their key goals. It is like asking me to stop breathing. It ain’t going to happen. Click your shoes and wish all you like with toto too in your hands.

    I suggest you read Brendan’s previous article to square your point.

  • Rapparee

    You’re kidding right, Sinn Féin have been as quiet as the proverbial church mouse. The Irish government it seems, aren`t aloud to concern themselves with the welfare of their citizens on this Island without being accused by the DUP of threatening the GFA, when the same outfit have been treating it, and the nationalist community with contempt for years. You couldn`t invent such a bunch of hypocrites if you tried. They must be drinking out of the same bowl of deluded fantasy as Owen Patterson and co in WM.

  • Mimi Balguerie

    Guarantee internal UK alignment and I’m sure we’re very happy to align with Republic/EU on a number of things, it’s fairly uncontroversial. The Republic can’t very well argue with that and doesn’t seem to have advanced any arguments as to why a NI / rest of UK barrier is good for NI.

    That isn’t in Leo’s gift to argue, though it would be much preferable for |Ireland to have no east-west barriers to trade at all. The Republic has neither the clout nor the authority to propose that all of the all of the UK either remains within the customs union or follows EU regulations. They do have the authority and interest necessary to propose that NI follows EU regulations in industries with extensive cross-border links, in the absence of any other solution to keep the border open from the British side. Over and above that, what the UK does within its own borders is entirely up to them.

    Sorry about this, MU. Ireland isn’t about to save you from your own incompetent negotiating team, an economically and politically illiterate government, nor from an agenda driven by the ideologically-blind hard right of the Tory party. The UK is going to have to deal with those problems itself.

  • Zig70

    Fail to prepare, prepare to fail. Really bored of all this now. Tory government can’t survive being captive to 10 mad paddies. I can only see it falling.

  • Barneyt

    It’s not that long ago that the late Ian Paisley was calling for Berlin style fencing along the border. Granted his motive and demeanour was different back then and we all know how he softened if you like. Those that remain in the DUP seem far less tolerant than Paisley had become. I doubt we’ll hear anyone utter the words, “ye know, we can rule ourselves”. So my point is that the DUP are by far, hard brexiteers who would not blink if the border became rock hard. I dont accept their claims that they want a soft border when they see gb as main trading block and stepping stone to world trade. Wanting a soft border does not align with their go it alone mentality, their desire to align wholly with Britain and not tolerate any gb divergence ( apart from language acts, marriage equality and the gb abortion act) and their campaign for brexit.

  • ‘island man

    Says very little for unionism.

  • NotNowJohnny

    How’s that outmuscling of Sinn Fein going?

  • sparrow

    Not interesting at all, to be honest. Polley makes the same mistake as most unionists in thinking that Dublin is using Brexit as an opportunity to push a united Ireland agenda. A few short weeks ago, Varadker was annoying nationalists in the north by suggesting that 51% wasn’t a sufficient majority to precipitate constitutional change in the north. All of a sudden now he’s a unionist hate figure for seemingly ignoring the GFA and sticking his nose in where it’s not wanted. Pathetic analysis.

  • sparrow

    ‘And in any case, this is about the interests of the whole UK, not a few people in one region.’
    You don’t do irony, do you?

  • NotNowJohnny

    Im constantly having to explain the concept of the union to unionists. It’s remarkable that a group of people who see the UK as their country do not understand the fundamental nature of it. They foolishly think Northern Ireland is as British as Finchley and that the UK is their country just as France is a Frenchman’s country and Australia is an Australian’s country. The big clue is that the UK doesn’t even have a football team and it doesn’t get to participate in the rugby World Cup.

  • NotNowJohnny

    I couldn’t find that in the Irish Times but I did find this in The Guardian.

    ‘Perhaps the most scathing verdict (on yesterday’s fiasco) was that of the Deutschlandfunk commentator Peter Kapern, who described Brexit as “the biggest political nonsense” since the Roman emperor Caligula made his favourite horse a senator.’

  • Georgie Best

    London won’t say what barriers will exist with GB because they refuse to indicate what they are looking for in their trade deal with the EU. This lack of information is not helping things. It might easily end up with no real issues on the Irish Sea bar agriculture.

  • Georgie Best

    Most Tories? What evidence is there of that? The loudest Tories oppose it, but what about the rest?

  • Roger

    She’s better than the late Rev. Paisley.

  • Neiltoo

    F*ck, there’s a cold wind in here.

  • sparrow

    Apologies. Maybe I shouldn’t post immediately after I’ve just been chinned playing poker. Puts me in bad form!

  • Oggins

    http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-42223732

    Think this article explains the full picture. Your pdf isn’t completely correct

  • epg_ie

    Evidence, please?

  • T.E.Lawrence

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a4901d7403f3ca770aabc7716ef96358dc7bee865ef229e4c59540119bed3f88.jpg They are all doing white line protests at the moment ! Seems interesting Finucane to the fore ? Shinnerbots must smell another Westie Election coming on ?

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Ach… come on Runny stop making fun of the Alliance Party ?
    Stephen had too many G&T’s for lunch ?

  • Pang

    Is it the case that not enough NI voters have a personal vested interest in the success of the private sector?

  • hgreen

    No. Our institutionalised politicians have very little experience of the private sector.

  • ZENO2

    Very mature Barney

  • ZENO2

    Galvanised nationalists still struggle to do much better than they did in 1998, not something that worries me as decent Roman Catholics don’t support it.

    The DUP made a bad choice for Northern Ireland but it will make for a stronger UK.

  • ZENO2

    Yes yes, demographics and all that.

    Tell me good sir, what vote did nationalism get in 1998 and then again last year. Minimal change in 20 years.

    No United Ireland – most decent Roman Catholics don’t support it.

  • Balor

    perhaps we are seeing the DUP strategy of replacing the bogeyman of Gerry Adams with the bogeyman of the Southern Government. They always need a bogeyman story to scare the misinformed into voting for a flag in spite of economic gifthorses

  • ZENO2

    Many of us use Britain interchangeably with UK. Seems to be very difficult for some people to grasp that.

  • ZENO2

    What negotiations?

  • ZENO2

    You reference the Belfast Agreement yet can’t actually point to the parts of it you mean.

    So either they exist and you have either not read it or can’t find them, or you are just making it up.

  • ZENO2

    Now Lizzy that’s being silly. As can be seen with the polling in England and the election in Scotland, while.people may vote against something they generally respect the result.

    Respect the result. I voted remain but if a hard border is the only outcome, so be it, the solidity of the UK matters more than appeasing republicans and the Irish.

  • ZENO2

    Yup. Big long border owned by an EU nation and they don’t gurn about it

  • Georgie Best

    You do so to emphasise the the subject status of other posters. We understand that.

  • Balor

    The DUP would gladly have take us to hell in a handcart as long as the handcart had a flag painted on it, named HRH Queen Victoria and driven by an Englishman. They simply do not care about Ulster or its people as long as they have a connection with Britain. Its all little Englander stuff and longing for days of the old empire.

  • ZENO2

    “We understand that.”

    For clarity, who is this “we” you are speaking for?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    how isn’t it completely correct? Nothing in your link contradicts it. Also, it is direct from the NISRA report itself.

    The link you have attached corrects Owen Patterson’s figures and rightly so, he quoted misleading figures and he’s a Tory f***wit. I didn’t – so can you respond to the NISRA figures I quoted? They stand.

  • Pang

    So for NI “It’s NOT the economy stupid!”.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    You insulted unionists more generally, John. I’m not here to defend the DUP. But unionists do think, they just have different interests from nationalists.

    But for the record it’s not her fault the assembly has gone, this was a strategic move by SF to pause it, as is well known and they themselves admit. As for “Blocks a deal which puts N. Ireland in a unique position for accessing the EU” – trade outside the UK is important but we do several times more trade with the rest of the UK. She blocked a deal that put that (massively bigger) part of our trade interests at risk. Hardly unthinking of her. Unthinking would be to get so obsessed with one’s own pet project of all-Ireland trade that you ignore the bigger east-west trade within the UK.

  • The Saint

    Orlaithi scrubs up well, much better than seeing Grizzy up on the pole.

  • Weedkiller

    Step 1
    Ensure there is a guarantee of no customs or trade barriers between NI and RoI (Europe) this is a job for nationalists and Irish government. We nearly got there.
    Step 2
    Ensure there is a guarantee of no customs or trade barriers between NI and GB. This is the job for unionists and they should have the support of UK government
    Result
    NI becomes crossover land with loads of economic, cultural and employment benefits. If we could achieve those goals and let it build for a couple of years, how many here would give that all up for a United Ireland?

  • Oggins

    Read it again. You are saying 5% when it is actually 37%

  • Old Mortality

    What is the ‘economic gifthorse’ that would introduce an obstacle to trade between NI and its principal market. Some controls would be necessary to prevent Irish goods crossing the invisible border and attempting to enter the UK without paying duties. Brussels would not be best pleased if they got away with that.

  • Old Mortality

    Unworkable it may be, but the RoI will be compelled to do it all the same. Perhaps Junckers and Barnier will come and officially open the first posts.

  • John

    As I am not a nationalist I will not presume to comment on what interests they may or may not have.
    I would have thought a trip from Derry to Belfast to personally put a proposal aimed at keeping the assembly alive was a magnanimous gesture from a terminally ill man.
    Having one foot in Europe and one foot in the rest of the world, is , I would have thought a unique position to occupy and extremely valuable to many entities.
    Sadly you are absolutely correct obsessive compulsive behaviour is a problem, an irresistible urge to keep saying NO NO NO, NEVER NEVER NEVER can be a big disadvantage in any negotiation.
    I am heartened that you did not even try to defend RHI or the IOU

  • Gary Da;ze;;

    The British can keep the border open on their side: the EU obligates its member states to control the borders of the EU. Hence the RoI will have to erect controls on their side. It’s this requirement that seems to be terrifying the RoI.

  • lizmcneill

    And how’s that working out for them?

  • lizmcneill

    Why should we respect a hard border that was voted for by English people who aren’t affected by it? Can we get a vote to put a hard border through Brexit-voting cities for no tangible benefit to ourselves?

  • John

    To date we have seen much hot air, lots of white noise and loads of talking heads. As nothing has happened yet, we simply do not know.

  • ZENO2

    So you obviously support partition – democratic mandates can be ignored when it suits?

    And you obviously don’t respect the Belfast Agreement – the one that recognises that people in Northern Ireland are part of the UK.

  • lizmcneill

    Where’s the mandate for leaving the customs union/single market? It was an advisory referendum on leaving the EU. Nothing about a hard border.

    As for NI in particular supporting no border:
    https://twitter.com/dmcbfs/status/938689021869481985

  • ZENO2

    Nice avoidance of the question.

    The UK held a referendum and then held an election and they have elected a government.

    Sorry your side didn’t win either but that’s politics, time to stop the gurning

  • lizmcneill

    The question on the referendum wasn’t about a hard border or leaving the customs union. What mandate?