“I can take the despair. It’s the hope I can’t stand.” Theresa May in Brussels? Answer. Worse: humiliation

What was Theresa May actually expecting  from the EU 27 leaders in Brussels? There was always the desperate hope for one of those last minute rush to settle against the declared odds. Instead… headlines… Daily Telegraph ( Brexiteer) Theresa May was humiliated once again by EU leaders last night as her attempts to improve her Brexit deal were thrown back in her face. The Sun (Brexiteer) and coiner of  dreadful puns BRUSSELS ROUT  Theresa May told to get stuffed by … Read more

Keep your eye on the glimmer of light in the Big Picture. But first we need to re-examine the backstop, sooner rather than later.

Although the sight of it is darkly occluded, the shape of things to come is emerging through the fog. Whatever immediate  political strategy  Theresa May chooses today, the dream of the hard line Brexiteers is in process of disintegration.  Whatever the political turmoil today, the UK will retain some sort of close relationship with the EU.   In Northern Ireland, unionists will have a closer relationship with the Republic and with nationalists generally – and I would argue with only slightly … Read more

UUP calls for May Deal to be voted down with an extension of Article 50

The Ulster Unionists have issued a statement on the Withdrawal Agreement, calling for its rejection. “The Withdrawal Agreement negotiated between Her Majesty’s Government and the EU will erode the constitutional and economic integrity of the United Kingdom and should be rejected. “The Ulster Unionist Party warned of the potential consequences of the inclusion of the disastrous backstop in December 2017, but the DUP who claimed to be in a position of influence at the heart of UK Government were asleep … Read more

The DUP would be fools to vote for no confidence in the government and boost the chances of a No Deal default

Politics is in a vortex of fast moving events over which the government has little control. According to the likely scenario, Theresa May will lose the meaningful vote badly next Tuesday night.  What happens next is in uncharted waters. But this is how  the meaningful vote fits into the prescribed  timetable, courtesy of the FT: The vote is a legal obligation under the UK’s 2018 EU Withdrawal Act, which says such a vote must take place “before the European Parliament decides whether … Read more

Theresa May’s new olive branch to the DUP is unlikely to impress

So was  there something worth hiding that’s now been exposed under duress? In my opinion, it’s not so much a smoking gun, more a blast of painful shotgun pellets.  DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds was bound to describe as “devastating” the Attorney General’s full legal advice on the withdrawal agreement that the government fought  so hard to withhold yesterday – and lost. In a statement this afternoon Mr Dodds  rises  to new heights  with the description of the  backstop as … Read more

If demographics is destiny, it’s up to us to decide the sort of destiny we want

I was intrigued by my friend David McWilliams’ warm and typically human account of Northern Ireland’s constitutional prospects in the FT. David has always had an abiding commitment to exploring the possibilities and the advantages of a single polity living on our island. In the naughties, he invited me to speak on a panel on his RTE show, which looked at the prospects of a united Ireland. On the bus down I rang one of my oldest small ‘u’ unionist mates … Read more

DUP are threatening May with collapse unnecessarily, even in their own cause

It looks worse and worse for Theresa May as a crucial week begins. The Times reports:   Theresa May was under fresh pressure last night as the DUP threatened to abandon her in a confidence vote if she failed to get her Brexit deal through parliament. Party sources said that they were considering the move, which would leave the prime minister without a Commons majority, over fears that her plan would create a border between Northern Ireland and the rest … Read more

Theresa May’s survival depends on cross party support for Plan B. Will she concede or quit?

First things first. Are we back to contemplating  the DUP holding the balance of power? The Sunday Telegraph and Sunday Times report what they rate as exciting new moves for an already potentially fateful week. The Democratic Unionist Party will join Labour and other opposition parties on Monday in a bid to force the Government to publish its legal advice on Brexit – a move that could delay the crucial vote on Theresa May’s plan. In an explosive alliance that will rock the … Read more

Game of chicken is hotting up

Brexit tensions are rising towards fever pitch. The Times story puts it neatly : If you step back from the noise surrounding Theresa May’s struggle to get her deal through parliament there are really only four Brexit options left on the table: Mrs May’s deal (possibly tweaked); no deal; a second referendum; and a Norway-style soft Brexit. Each option has its advocates in the Commons but none yet has enough backing to command majority support in the House. Ultimately MPs … Read more

Slugger TV looks at the Withdrawal Agreement

Slugger TV: Episode 20 from Northern Visions NvTv on Vimeo. Latest Slugger TV where we are discussing Brexit and the Withdrawal Agreement with Dr Katy Hayward from Queens University and Brendan Hughes from the Irish News. David McCannDavid McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs

Northern Ireland’s business community has united as never before to make sure it is heard and the consequences of crashing out of the EU next March are understood.

Stephen Kelly is the Chief Executive of Manufacturing NI, he writes for Slugger about why the Withdrawal Agreement from the European Union should be supported. A community has found it voice. Reluctant, yet determined, Northern Ireland’s business community has united as never before, to make sure is heard, and that the consequences of crashing out of the EU next March are understood. Some may have been frustrated that Northern Ireland’s businesses and their representatives have been too quiet, but we … Read more

Why Brexit is going wrong and how it could be fixed (part 2)

This is the second of two posts here looking at Brexit through a democratic, rather than a political lens. In the previous post, I argued that the ‘cliff edge’ exit that is inevitable when leaving the EU is not sustainable for the EU, and that the UK would be doing everyone a favour by challenging it. The word “crisis” is over-used in British politics, but we are undoubtedly in one now. We have a Prime Minister who is trying to … Read more

What’s the antedote to “know nothing” populism’s rejection of complexity?

Although it makes me a little nervous when people draw from Yeats’ Second Coming this is an interesting take from Bobby McDonagh, who was Irish Ambassador in London during the referendum that ended up in a narrow but telling victory for exiting the EU… Complexity has been crucial in building the structures which enable peaceful co-operation between nations, including in Europe. The more simple ways of European history involved legionaries and siege engines, tanks and bombs. The complexity of today’s … Read more

“This is the “Canada-plus” option the EU at one point said it would never agree to…”

The Irish Times today carries the view of, the always worth reading, FT columnist Wolfgang Münchau on the withdrawal agreement between the UK and EU. First he makes a quick point on the opposition on both sides of the House of Commons… When British cabinet ministers resigned hours after the publication of the withdrawal agreement between the UK and EU, they could not conceivably have read it, let alone digested its finer points. Many of the MPs who denounced the … Read more

Why Brexit is going wrong and how it could be fixed…

This is the first of two posts here in which I’m going to look at Brexit through a democratic, rather than a political lens. I’d argue that Representative Democracy is humanity’s single most valuable invention. It has provided government that fosters a level of prosperity and a standard of justice that all of our ancestors could only dream of, and it has hosted history’s greatest period of innovation. Representative Democracy is a robust system. It has an internal logic – … Read more

The DUP are waking up to the idea that Fortress Ulster has no future. They should be encouraged, not abused

They are still talking in euphemisms.  They are desperate to avoid finding themselves suddenly on the losing side without any notion of the outcome. Goodness knows what Theresa May can offer to sell the withdrawal agreement when she visits Northern Ireland  on her nationwide tour. Experience of local negotiations argues strongly against side deals and the arguments have been so well rehearsed already. Entirely wisely, the DUP are for once hinting at a solution to the backstop conundrum other than … Read more

Foster expresses deep regret for party’s mistakes over RHI while Boris imagines ‘UKNI’ dystopia but fails to excite DUP activists #DUP18

Read back key sections and listen to speeches from today’s DUP Conference. Arlene Foster apologised for the party’s mistakes over RHI, hinted at a ‘cultural deal’ and expressed her wish for devolution to be restored. Boris Johnson spoke about buses, Brexit and light sabres …

Future Ireland / Healthcare in ‘A New Ireland’

In producing the report – now a book – ‘A New Ireland’ this year, I conducted lots of interviews asking people about the prospect of Irish reunification.  The issue of healthcare in a united Ireland was consistently cited as a major concern. Northern perceptions of the southern system are very negative.  Views within the Republic are not that positive either, for sound reasons.  But it is only fair to point out that the NHS in Northern Ireland is in crisis.  … Read more

Too many are unconvinced by Theresa May’s claim of alternatives later to the backstop. And some are prepared to ditch Northern Ireland

What matters next has changed.  Summit signing on Sunday apart, the next real stage of Brexit is not about Brussels but how MPs will react to what’s in front of them. The political declaration published today was full of warm words for a deep and meaningful relationship but it is clear that British options for striking out independently are constrained by the legal terms of the withdrawal agreement featuring the backstop. Try and she might to hint at a different … Read more