Brexiteers at bay after the first day of May talks widens internal party splits

As Paul Waugh aptly says in Huffpost.. The lectern moment’ really is wearing thin as a useful dramatic device for Theresa May. She’s stood on the steps of No.10 so many times now that she’s devalued the currency of its impact. And after this week’s shattering defeat of her Brexit plan, more than ever it seems like her Downing Street announcements are all words and no action. May rightly said the nation needs to ‘come together’, but showed little flexibility or humility needed to make … Read more

O’Neill “government is clearly still not listening to fears of the public who are aghast at the pantomime currently playing out in the Westminster parliament”

Sinn Fein Vice President, Michelle O’Neill held a phone conversation with the Secretary of State to discuss the impasse over the Withdrawal Agreement; “I had a frank discussion with the British Secretary of State and I told her that her government is clearly still not listening to fears of the public who are aghast at the pantomime currently playing out in the Westminster parliament. “With each passing day, our business community, our farmers, our community and voluntary sector are growing … Read more

Break-up of the parties or No Deal Brexit – the looming choice

As matters stand, we’re either heading for crash out No Deal or the main parties are heading for break-up. The Conservative and Labour leaders are dolally.  Theresa May is listening but not  to anybody who wants  a customs union or a second referendum.  Jeremy Corbyn will not only not meet her but has urged all Labour MPs not to meet her either.  But this request in a letter to his MPs came too late to stop former ministers Yvette Cooper and … Read more

Eastwood “Continuing to chase after the DUP, who hold a minority view in Northern Ireland is a mistake”

The SDLP Leader, Colum Eastwood has criticised Theresa May for her lack of consultation with other parties in Northern Ireland. He said; With each passing day, the British Government show an ever increasing disregard for the people of Northern Ireland. The sheer lack of communication, and indeed recognition that Northern Ireland will be devastated by a Brexit set to be delivered by dysfunctional politics in London, speaks volumes. “Despite false utterings from the DUP about a border down the Irish … Read more

Tony Blair calls for extension of Article 50

Extending the #Brexit deadline is “inevitable” says Tony Blair: “If I was the government now, I would already be having discussions with Europe about the terms of an extension” #r4today https://t.co/55w4Ws2GFr pic.twitter.com/lxWzAYZr4x — BBC Radio 4 Today (@BBCr4today) January 17, 2019 David McCannDavid McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs

Varadkar “words aren’t enough” to avoid a hard border

Taoiseach – “Words aren’t enough” to avoid a hard border. Says there must have an agreement on customs union & regulatory alignment. “Its not good enough to say there won’t be a hard border because nobody wants one.” #brexit pic.twitter.com/dLHoQZrwG5 — Darran Marshall (@DarranMarshall) January 16, 2019 David McCannDavid McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs

In spite of a day without precedent, it’s still party before country from the Conservatives and Labour

At the very moment Conservative and Labour MPs are passionately proclaiming the need to work together, the two parties are locked in the elemental struggle for power after a major defeat, a vote of confidence in the government. This is Labour’s ritual act to stave off having to commit to a policy. For  theirs is a unicorn with a mighty horn, a customs relationship that allows unilateral free trade negotiations and a single market relationship that restricts  free movement. On … Read more

The Meaningful Vote: Welcome to Political Bandersnatch

It’s hard to believe that Theresa May secured a draft Withdrawal Agreement from the European Union in November 2018. I feel as though I’ve aged 500 years since then. After weeks of parliamentary wrangling, countless amendments,a confidence vote and Sammy Wilson’s angry face on the television every night, the big day is here. I’ve written elsewhere about my thoughts on the Agreement. I would reluctantly vote for the Prime Minister’s deal. It is lukewarm tea, a soggy biscuit trapped at … Read more

Excuse the dampener -don’t be surprised if the moment of truth is postponed – again

To be fair, in her direct appeal to MPs “to take a second look,” Theresa May made a better fist at making the case for her Deal in the Commons  than she did earlier at the Doulton pottery in Stoke.  For the first time she was saying that the Scottish nationalists and the “Ulster” nationalists of the DUP would carry the can for a catastrophic result. As a proud Unionist, I share the concerns of Members who want to ensure … Read more

Nothing new to offer as Theresa May misfires the last shot in her locker in support of her deal

With her back to the wall Theresa May exposes  her own and her speech writers’ monumental ignorance of  UK devolution by bizarrely invoking the  creation of the Welsh Assembly based on a squeakingly narrow referendum result. as a killer argument   against calling a second referendum on Brexit.   What a pity that that she is such a poor  advocate  of what would otherwise be a viable proposal.  Extracts from May’s speech released by Downing Street last night show she will invoke … Read more

Plan for a border poll certainly, but as part of new British- Irish and North-South relationships

Deep in the last ditch before Tuesday’s meaningful vote, the UK government are warning that the DUP’s refusal to back Mrs May’s deal brings a border poll nearer. The warning was put into the mouth of Karen Bradley who political anoraks may just remember is the minister with nominal responsibility for Northern Ireland affairs. No 10 put out one of their coy little  briefings to say that she  “told the Cabinet” that a border poll on the reunification of Ireland … Read more

Children of the Ceasefire / 1

This is one of three winning articles for the Future Ireland series. The articles were submitted together – by three friends who met at college – a northern Catholic, a east Belfast Protestant, and a Dublin man. We liked the nuanced content of the pieces, the sense of identities in flux, and the fact that each tried to understand the perspectives of the others. Also how being children of the ceasefires weaves throughout their pieces. By Matthew Redmond – hailing … Read more

Children of the Ceasefire / 2

This is one of three winning articles for the Future Ireland series. The articles were submitted together – by three friends who met at college – a northern Catholic, a east Belfast Protestant, and a Dublin man. We liked the nuanced content of the pieces, the sense of identities in flux, and the fact that each tried to understand the perspectives of the others. Also how being children of the ceasefires weaves throughout their pieces. By Seanín Little Growing up … Read more

Uniting our Shared Island by Professor Colin Harvey…

The discussion of Irish unity is gaining momentum; Brexit has altered the nature of this conversation, as more people now reflect on the constitutional future.  The debate is already happening, and has been ongoing for some time. That does not mean Irish unity is any closer; it simply suggests a willingness to contemplate this option and to think through the implications. Work by, for example, Claire Mitchell, Andrée Murphy, Paul Gosling, Fintan O’Toole, David McWilliams, Mark Daly, Richard Humphreys, and … Read more

The shape of the final deal actually looks promising- if only we can get over the hump of the backstop. London now needs Dublin’s help to get there

 “Cosmetic and meaningless.” On behalf of the DUP, Nigel Dodds’ rejection of the government’s latest bunch of concessions and clarifications is entirely predictable. The legal text containing the backstop of the Ireland/ Northern Ireland Protocol has indeed not been changed as everybody knew it wouldn’t be and won’t be.  Many will shrug and say that’s that. But it’s nothing of the sort. If there’s to be any middle way between No Deal and No Brexit, it’s hard to see how … Read more

Parliamentary arithmetic moving against a no-deal Brexit

Now that the Christmas lull in the interminable Brexit wars is over, the various parliamentary factions are preparing to do battle once again as the 29th of March draws closer. The first significant vote of 2019 is expected tomorrow, when parliament is scheduled to vote on Yvette Cooper’s amendment to the Finance Bill. The intended purpose of the amendment is to seek to prevent a no-deal Brexit by blocking tax powers if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, … Read more

The DUP are the crucial “dominoes” in May’s bid to win a second meaningful vote

Theresa May’s strategy to try to win MPs’ endorsement of the withdrawal agreement is a little clearer, arising out of hints she gave to Andrew Marr yesterday. The strategy  is classic if conventional  politics, before a fundamentally divided, incoherent opposition, however formidable it now seems. It involves  narrowing  the gaps, wearing down opposition by a mixture of  project Fear (miles of traffic jams and English police on Ulster streets ) and project Farce (the shipping company with no ships), and … Read more

Wobbles on the backstop and an eventual Fianna Fail- SDLP merger are new features of the countdown to the day of Brexit reckoning

As Sammy Wilson was among the first to remind us, Brexit wars have resumed again after the Christmas pause.  Theresa May has just promised no delay to the meaningful vote scheduled for the week after next. But she declined to speculate on extending Article 50 if as expected MPs finally vote down the withdrawal agreement with the Irish backstop. According to  the Irishman who is professor of Constitutional and EU law at University College London, Ronan McCrea..    the UK … Read more

SDLP/Fianna Fail talks coming to a conclusion.

In today’s Irish News, Claire Simpson reports a message from the SDLP Leader, Colum Eastwood and the Deputy Leader, Nichola Mallon to the party membership about discussions with Fianna Fail.  It says; “Our discussions have been based on how best to meet the challenges of Brexit, how best to restore the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement and how best to ensure that our values of reconciliation and the unity of our people can once again enter into the lifeblood … Read more