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The Independent | Brexit: Northern Ireland border joins divorce bill on pile of reasons for deadlock


Theresa May has been handed an ultimatum to guarantee no hard border on the island of Ireland by December if Britain wants to move to trade talks before the spring.

The EU and Ireland made clear on Friday that the issue of the border had joined the divorce bill as one of the two main problems where "much more progress" is needed to start talking about a transition period.

[...] Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said Ireland and the EU needed a promise in writing by December that there would be no hard border and suggested eurosceptics had not "thought all this through" in the years they had been pushing for the UK to leave the EU.

It does not look like there will be progress by December. I am, however, uncertain this will spell out the end of the negotiation.

Thank you Frank for distilling these stories to us.

You might find me At The Edge Of Time.

by Luis de Sousa (luis[dot]a[dot]de[dot]sousa[at]gmail[dot]com) on Sun Nov 19th, 2017 at 03:47:05 PM EST
There is no end to "negotiation" among people. Negotiation is an essential condition of, or attitude toward, human relations to one another and the world.

How UK gov has conducted itself in fact may hardly be construed as a negotiation of equals since Cameron's conspicuous resignation, following several years petitioning for further "reform" of UK privileges, in fact conceded by EU institutions.

Rather UK gov immediately assumed a position to coerce that same economic and political trubute from the EU-27 upon presentation of A50 and Ireland for ransom. That "frame" of malice aforethought --not plausible customs cooperation or border locations, not relative trade balances or agricultural "interests"-- clarified for me anticipated EU strategy to extricate the UK from the union when UK first issued its "Future Partnership" papers.

To borrow a premise:

Political economy cannot be divorced from social and historical contexts

Regardless of any so-called dealing or reconciliation publicly advanced, expect UK gov to continue to hold such people, squinting at shadows, who it deems possessions like hostages. And that "frame" has informed my unsolicited advice on EU actions since and forthcoming. This must stop.

So. Turn about the blessed cheek: What protocol guides hostage negotiations, hmm? And what "technologies" are available to EU negotiators?

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sun Nov 19th, 2017 at 05:27:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
While it still looks possible, "sufficient progress" looks unlikely by December, if only because the UK government has consistently over played its hand.

But that doesn't have to mean a complete breakdown in negotiations and my central expectations is that the negotiations will limp along until early 2019.

My only problem with this scenario is that - barring a change of government - I don't see the political environment becoming more conducive to an agreement in the interim.

At that stage - early 2019 - I see desperate negotiators trying to cobble together a limited agreement on a few "must have" topics like air travel together with an agreement to revisit other topics later as part of some "comprehensive trade agreement" which everyone is unsure will ever happen.

The agreement may be so minimalist that UK negotiators will have difficulty justifying any financial settlement in return which, again, makes any agreement difficult if not impossible. Some issues, like the Irish Border, may be sidetracked for agreement "later" possibly as part of a separate bilateral deal subject to EU blessing.

Eventually, and probably at the last possible moment, "a deal" will come before the House of Commons and EP amid a general lack of enthusiasm and opposition from both hard Brexiteers and Remainers.

I doubt a majority will be possible at that stage and so we will probably have a general election in the UK and exasperation in EU27. Labour will probably win amid great confusion as to what will now happen as some on the EU side will be very reluctant to start a new negotiation with a new government.

But if Labour stick to their position of wanting to remain in the Customs Union and Single Market, a whole lot of things (including the Irish border) will suddenly become much simpler.

This thing could end not with a bang but with a whimper. After a lot of sturm und drang the UK will simply succeed in disempowering itself within the EU and that will suit a lot of people just fine.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Nov 19th, 2017 at 09:08:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... UK governments persist long past their sell-by date.  The next election is scheduled for 5 May 2022.  Tories and DUP have no need to call an election and neither Labour or the SNP have the votes.  

Prognosis: HMS Britannia holds a steady course to sail onto the rocks
 

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sun Nov 19th, 2017 at 10:09:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nevertheless, if no substantial Brexit deal is negotiated and the cliff edge looms, it wouldn't take many remainers to defect to pass a vote of no confidence, cause an election, and result in a Labour victory with a mandate to remain in the single market and customs union. Similarly, it wouldn't take many Brexiteers to defect to cause a similar outcome if any Brexit deal is not to their liking.

The likelihood of defections from any Government majority is generally over-hyped and I wouldn't put a lot of money on betting on a general election in 2019. The instinct for self-preservation tends to trump any qualms of principle. However many Tory MPs have something of a revolving door with key business interests horrified at the prospect of a hard Brexit.

So in this case I would put the probability of May losing a confidence vote by 2019 at greater than 50%. However a new Tory leader like Boris might seek to avoid a general election - in the knowledge of almost certain defeat - by simply delaying things long enough for Brexit to happen by default.

At that point dissident MPs will simply have to suck it hope and hope a better post-Brexit deal - a Canada plus trade deal can be negotiated. I can't see the EU placing a high priority on the plus part, however. Not after Brexit. Any deal will have to be heavily weighted in EU27's favour for it to achieve the required unanimous approval.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Nov 19th, 2017 at 11:40:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I seem to remember a Daily Telegraph article a few weeks ago?

It essentially said that a "Plus deal" including services will be difficult. Because allegedly modern FTAs have a clause in it, saying that if one side later on offers a better deal to another country, the older FTA should be open for an "upgrade" too.

The author basically concluded that the EU would like to avoid that scenario.

by Detlef (Detlef1961_at_yahoo_dot_de) on Mon Nov 20th, 2017 at 02:39:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why give London a privileged position of financial services within the EU if you later have to give the same benefits to all other countries with which you have or want to conclude a trade deal? There is a way to provide the UK with a "bespoke" deal better than any other: it's called the Single Market and Customs Union.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Nov 21st, 2017 at 10:23:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The agreement may be so minimalist that UK negotiators will have difficulty justifying any financial settlement in return which, again, makes any agreement difficult if not impossible. Some issues, like the Irish Border, may be sidetracked for agreement "later" possibly as part of a separate bilateral deal subject to EU blessing.

I don´t think the EU can "sidetrack" the Irish border issue. In your scenario Britain will be a "third country". Which means border controls. Otherwise the USA, China ... will involve the WTO citing the non-discrimination rules.

by Detlef (Detlef1961_at_yahoo_dot_de) on Mon Nov 20th, 2017 at 02:33:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Including N. Ireland in the Single Market and Customs Union, after a UK government is no longer dependent on the DUP, would not create any precedent for other third parties.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Nov 21st, 2017 at 10:26:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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