Sunset clauses and statutory instruments: How Brexit is allowing the UK to be redrawn…

Whilst there is a lot of attention on the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland as a source of tension and complexity in intra-UK relations, a far more consequential effect of Brexit is coming into view – one which will irrevocably change the constitution of the UK. Extraction of the UK from the EU was never going to be a straightforward case of divorce – it was to provoke a fundamental remodelling of the UK state. We are still in the early …

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The Brexit effect on UK business…

Bugger Brexit.London Street art Shoreditch.Shot on film, Kodak Portra 800, Nikon FM2n

This new video from the FT is an essential watch. It goes into detail about the disastrous effect that Brexit has had on UK business – in short, it is not good. Some of the stuff is just madness, like the tea company that went from being able to deliver their product in 2 days to taking three months due to customs. Or the company that had to close one of its UK warehouses and move it to Poland to …

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Houses of sand: Unionism has a problem with younger voters. A huge one.

Whither the union. I find myself becoming weary as I write this. Articles about the demise of the union, about unionist malaise and mistakes, are so common these days that they all sound the same. I stopped writing them at one point because I had nothing new to add. Even now, people write these pieces with a weird air of arrogance. They want you to know that they and they alone have figured out that unionism is in a difficult …

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After the funeral of the age, back to the reality of today

The greatest public obsequies in history are over. The hangover begins now. The death of the Queen allowed millions to think of the nation as a big family which could unite at such a time.  Every nation or a distinct component of it needs an identity to survive.  For a large majority, the Queen was at the heart of it. Whether the unity survives both for the nation and- come to think of it- even the royal family- are quite …

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Five ways to scrap the protocol…

The UK has refused to engage with extensive proposals from the EU to introduce an “Express Lane” for goods intended only for consumption in N. Ireland, and to radically reduce the amount of paperwork associated with phytosanitary controls. The Joint EU UK committee to oversee the workings of the protocol hasn’t even met since last February. Instead, the UK has gone for a “maximalist” position, passing legislation in the Commons to give Ministers the power to disapply large parts of an international Treaty, …

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The voice of sanity over the Protocol is drowned in Tory leadership Brexit frenzy

  Although by instinct I prefer to hunt for the substance behind political attitudes however perverse they seem, I’m reduced to calling the latest on the Protocol –   bonkers, plain and not so simple. The Tory leadership fight has tipped it into the surreal. First in a dash to complete his legacy, Johnson rushed to complete the Protocol Bill’s early Commons stages on the last full day on Thursday. Then it’s over to Lords in September and a new government. …

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UK trade performance falls to worst level on record…

Close-up of dahlias using focus stacking. Ont their final days.

Like a mirage in the desert, the Brexit sunlit uplands are further away than ever. As the FT reports: The weak performance of UK exports and a surge in imports will add to pressure on the government over the damaging economic effects of Brexit as the official figures corroborate academic studies showing a rupture in UK exports since the new border controls were imposed in 2021. The data showed(opens a new window) that the UK’s current account deficit was 8.3 …

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On one thing MPs are agreed: the EU need to show greater flexibility. So is the Protocol Bill only “displacement activity?”

The mouse didn’t roar as the House of Commons sent the Protocol Bill on its way yesterday. “Only if enacted” said an uncharacteristically strident Jeffrey Donaldson, would the DUP go back to Stormont, advancing the curious argument that the Protocol Bill would “give back to the elected representatives in Northern Ireland the power to take the decisions that they have not been able to take.”(It would give them to Westminster not Stormont). Most MPs including the Conservatives who spoke, were …

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Johnson sends an ultimatum to the DUP : return to the Assembly or we won’t proceed with the Protocol bill. Is the threat credible?

Political gaming  has intensified as the Times and the FT report that the UK government will not proceed with the Protocol Bill unless the DUP promises to return to the Assembly. As the bill will at best take a year to pass Parliament are the DUP being invited to buy a pig in a poke? Can this ultimatum over ride the DUP’s demands for “action not words?.  Is the briefing to the papers credible anyway except as short term pressure …

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How wise is it to play Protocol poker with a weak hand everybody can see?

What do you suppose Boris Johnson is up to with his on the face of it, kamikaze tactics over the Protocol Bill?  By pursuing the most aggressive line he seems determined to court a confrontation with the EU.  Can he be serious, even as a survival strategy? As Peston points out, where Johnson is on shaky ground is that within the Protocol there is explicit provision to suspend it, where there are ‘societal difficulties… liable to persist’ via its Article …

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As the UK plans to rip up Northern Ireland protocol the EU threatens to seem them in court…

Hoodie with European Union Logo (EU-Hoodie) but without UK Logo because of Brexit

The FT reports that the EU are not happy bunnies about Boris’s plans to ‘amend’ the NI Protocol. From the article: Brussels threatened legal action against the UK on Monday, as a chorus of criticism greeted Boris Johnson’s plan to unilaterally rip up his 2020 Brexit deal with the EU covering trade with Northern Ireland. The British prime minister insisted that new legislation to override the Northern Ireland protocol was vital to stabilise the peace process in the region and …

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Between a Rock and a Hard Place…

Boris Johnson is reported to be delaying the publication of the Bill to over-ride parts of the protocol until such time as the DUP agree to the election of a Speaker in the Assembly. The DUP is refusing to proceed until they see the contents of the Bill and ensure that it directly over-rides the Protocol and doesn’t merely give the power to Ministers to do so at some stage of their choosing. No doubt a compromise will be worked …

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Day light robbery of our democracy: the trap of the Anti-Protocol rhetoric…

Stairs going down.

Has there ever been a more ironically named political party across the UK and Ireland than the Democratic Unionist Party? The party, enabled by our broken political infrastructure, has graduated from padlocking swings in Ballymena on Sundays to effectively padlocking the doors to our democracy. It is currently holding the existence of democracy in Northern Ireland hostage, at the behest of an issue which they themselves have no idea what the issue being resolved looks like. Not only that: its …

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Pension provision in a united Ireland : redux

source : getty images

Last week I wrote an article suggesting that in the event of a united Ireland, the British government would propose that the future Irish government assume responsibility for paying the former Northern Ireland state pensions, on the basis that it would already be receiving the benefit of historic pension contributions that were invested in the form of public spending there. The article noted that this was the proposed arrangement in the event of Scottish independence (see page 139). This drew …

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The abuse of “controversial and cross-cutting”

port, pier, cargo containers

There is no doubt that the question of border checks at Northern Ireland’s ports is controversial. The question is whether Edwin Poots has the ability to ignore the law of the United Kingdom? Jamie Bryson argues that that section 20(4)(aa) of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 overrides the obligations of the Northern Ireland Protocol.  It isn’t in the Programme for Government, therefore it needs to be decided by the Executive.  However, Sinn Fein state that that decision was made by …

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Frost’s resignation dissolves fudging over the Protocol and faces Johnson with the stark choice. And Liz Truss the party favourite will make it.

The social libertarian reasons David Frost has given for quitting the government such as the “direction of travel” on Covid restrictions and increased taxes are hardly the whole story.  For if he thought he looked like winning in the Protocol negotiations he would surely not have quit. His letter to Johnson smacks of the same disingenuousness as his Protocol reports – a hard line written in the language of sweet reasonableness.  Frost knows very well he has set Johnson a …

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New poll: Majority think Northern Ireland will quit the Union…

smileys, customer satisfaction, review

A new poll by Lord Ashcroft has good short term news for Unionists but a bleak long term. From Lord Ashcroft’s report in The Daily Mail: The survey, for pollster and Tory peer Lord Ashcroft, reveals that a clear majority would to opt to stay in the Union if a referendum were held now. However, just one in three Northern Irish voters believe that would be the outcome if a so-called ‘border poll’ is held in ten years’ time. And …

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Straws in the Protocol wind

From  the FT Rishi Sunak, chancellor of the exchequer, warned that provoking the EU into a trade dispute in the row over the so-called Northern Ireland protocol would hardly help. “Empty shelves this Christmas would be a disaster,” says one senior British official. “Nobody wants to be the person who screws up Christmas.” Rather than force a confrontation with Brussels, Johnson ordered his chief negotiator, Lord David Frost, to return to the table with renewed vigour to try to resolve …

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Johnson and Frost can afford another turn of the screw before retreat. The rachet is in their hands

Using the old mantra of Michel Barnier, the clock is ticking on the Protocol negotiations. Even so, picking up from Mick’s references to Irish Times commentator Ronan McCrea, it isn’t obvious to me why at this point  the EU should “play hardball.”  Granted that he fears the damage done in a lengthy arbitration period under the terms of the withdrawal agreement. ..during the lengthy period during which all of these procedures were being worked through, the EU would be faced …

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Are Protocol wars about to go beyond posturing?

Is this for real? The Daily Telegraph, the FT and the Irish Times are all agreed on a significant  hardening of positions on the Protocol.  Using their own debased  form of signalling,  loyalist paramilitaries are piling on pressure that Lord Frost for the UK government seems only too willing to accept. Where is this leading? A closer look at the Daily Telegraph closest to UKG sources, suggests a timetable from the end of this month for deciding  to invoke Article …

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