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by Frank Schnittger Sun Nov 19th, 2017 at 02:15:34 AM EST

Leo Varadker has been upsetting a few people in the UK:
The SUN Editorial

THE SUN SAYS Ireland's naive young prime minister should shut his gob on Brexit and grow up.

Leo Varadkar may not like Brexit but he needs to accept it's happening

We are Ireland's biggest trading partner and nearest neighbour.

The effects of a "hard Brexit" could be catastrophic.

Yet Varadkar's rookie diplomacy, puerile insults and threats to veto trade negotiations are bringing it ever closer.

We can only assume his arrogance stems from a delusion that he can ­single-handedly stop Brexit.

Indeed Ireland's political establishment clearly believes we can be forced to vote the "right" way at a second referendum, just as they made their citizens do over the EU Lisbon Treaty they initially rejected.

It is not going to happen.

David Davis rightly names France and Germany as the roadblocks to progress, even as other EU nations want a deal.

He should not overlook the showboating obstinacy of Ireland's Varadkar, a man increasingly out of his depth.


The cause of the Sun's ire is probably a gradual hardening of Ireland's position in the Brexit negotiations. Unwilling to be fobbed off with vague promises of a "frictionless, invisible border", the Irish Government have been demanding clarity on exactly how such a border would work in practise. Acutely aware that Ireland's negotiating leverage will all but disappear once the Brexit talks move onto the second stage of trade and transition, Varadker has been holding out for clarity on the border issue first.

Brexit talks deadlocked until hard Border off table, says Varadkar

The UK's decision to "unilaterally" rule out important options in the Brexit talks has prompted Ireland and the EU to set their own non-negotiable red lines, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told the British prime minister, Theresa May, on Friday.

It was necessary to do so, he said to "set the parameters" of the next phase of talks, on trade and the United Kingdom's future relationship with the European Union."What we want to take off the table, before we even talk about trade, is any idea that there would be a hard Border, a physical Border, or a Border resembling the past . . . Then we'd be happy to move on to phase two," the Taoiseach told journalists about their bilateral meeting on the fringes of the European Social Summit for Fair Jobs and Growth, in Gothenburg.

The meeting was forthright, he said. "Nothing changed today. But what was useful were the frank exchanges. Each clearly understands the other's position."

At the heart of the deadlock is the Irish and EU insistence that the UK explain now how it can preserve a soft, frictionless Border between Northern Ireland and the Republic, while the UK insists that the issue cannot be tackled until the EU agrees to move to discussion of phase-two issues.

The Irish government's preferred solution is for the UK to remain within the Single Market and Customs Union, and, failing that, for Northern Ireland to remain in. However this latter solution would require customs controls "in the Irish Sea" between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, something that is absolutely anathema to the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) on whom the Tories depend for their slim parliamentary majority, and who view any customs controls between N. Ireland and GB as being a step on the slippery slope towards a united Ireland.

The Irish government is well aware of this difficulty for Theresa May's government, but that simply isn't their problem. The re-emergence of a hard border within Ireland would put the peace process at risk, greatly damage the Irish economy, and sound the death knell for any Irish government which countenanced it. This is particularly now the case with Gerry Adams retiring as leader of Sinn Fein. Gerry Adams is widely expected to be replaced by his deputy leader, Mary Lou McDonald who, together with N. Ireland Sinn Fein Leader Michelle O'Neill (who replaced Martin McGuinness) would represent a new generation of Sinn Fein leaders untainted by association with the IRA.

Sinn Fein's association with the IRA has been the major factor holding back it's electoral progress in Ireland, and with two relatively young and telegenic female leaders untarnished by association with violence at the helm, could be expected to make considerable progress in future elections putting Varadker's Fine Gael led government's future at risk. With Sinn Fein only 1,000 votes behind the DUP in the last Northern Ireland Assembly elections, it may also help Sinn Fein become the largest party in N. Ireland. The stakes are therefore very high for both the Irish government and the DUP.

I doubt the Irish government expects Theresa May to commit hari kari by ditching the DUP overnight. Private assurances that the UK government would not stand in the way of N. Ireland remaining in the Customs Union and Single market might suffice at this stage, with that concession only formally given at the eleventh hour when the final Brexit deal is being finalised. Theresa May will find it extremely difficult to get a majority in parliament for any Brexit deal in any case, so a general election on the outcome of the negotiations seems likely, making continued support from the DUP moot.

That solution would be analogous to the other extremely contentious issue in the first stage of Brexit negotiations: the size of any financial settlement between the UK and EU for outstanding liabilities the UK has incurred within the EU. The EU is not insisting that the UK actually agrees to a concrete figure at this stage, merely on a methodology for calculating one. The UK would thus also give cast iron guarantees there would be no need for a "hard" Irish land border, but the mechanism for achieving this - N. Ireland's continued membership of the Single market and Customs Union - would only be revealed in the final Brexit Agreement. Perfidious Albion reprised.

This approach is also reflected in EU negotiating documents which speak of the need for the maintenance of regulatory equivalence between North and south if a hard border is to be avoided. My preferred solution is that Northern Ireland would be designated a special economic zone of which there are thousands in the world - the first one having been created in Shannon - and which have no necessary distinct political or sovereign status in the countries of which they are part. DUP sensitivities could be mollified by stressing that such a status is of no Sovereign significance whatsoever, and, indeed, could have many advantages for N. Ireland. UK businesses seeking unimpeded access to the Single Market post Brexit could achieve this by relocating part of their operations to the North.

In many ways the UK government set this trap for itself with lots of flowery prose about how the border would be invisible, frictionless, unlike the border of the past, and somehow enabled by new technology. Brexiteers like Boris Johnson appear to regard political rhetoric as a substitute for concrete practicality, the details of which can be worked out by the little people afterwards. Indeed, if the border could be made to be so invisible and frictionless, what is their objection to it being located in the Irish sea?

Their belief that the Irish government could be bought off by vacuous promises probably reflects the attitude also evident in the SUN editorial quoted above: how dare the Irish stand in the way of the great Brexit adventure! Ireland should get with the programme and help make Brexit a success - an attitude also exhibited by the DUP.

What the DUP likes to ignore is that N. Ireland - the only place in which it has an electoral mandate - actually voted against Brexit by 56 to 44%, and so it has no mandate for its policy. While such a vote can't be conflated with a vote for a united Ireland, it does clearly indicate that a democratic majority of the people of N. Ireland voted to remain within the EU. Remaining within the Customs Union and Single Market while following Great Britain out of the EU seems like the sort of reasonable compromise between conflicting loyalties and aspirations which made the peace process and the Good Friday Agreement possible. Unfortunately the DUP doesn't do reason.

But the SUN editorial also betrays a deeper attitude amongst Brexit supporters in the UK: An attitude that the EU, and in particular, Ireland, needs the UK more than the UK needs the EU. This may be true of Ireland, but it is certainly not true of the EU as a whole. EU27 exports to the UK make up c. 4% of total EU exports, while the UK exports c. 40% of its total exports to the EU27. But more than this, it emphasises the Brexiteer view that the EU is primarily about free trade, and because it is in everyone's interest to retain free trade, the EU must, ultimately, accede to the UK's demand that it retains more or less untrammelled access to EU markets without the constraints of the Customs Union and Single market on it's ability to conclude it's own trade deals with third parties.

This is to fundamentally and perhaps wilfully misunderstand what the EU is all about. The EU is, firstly, a political union dedicated to ensuring peace in Europe by achieving ever closer political union. Economic integration is a means to that end. Germany, with the largest trade surpluses with the UK, has been quite unequivocal that the political stability of the EU trumps the immediate economic interests of it's exporting industries. If a choice has to be made between the cohesion and stability of the EU and continued free access to the UK market, it is EU stability which must win out.

Ireland, with the most to lose from a hard Brexit, also faces a very difficult choice. Brexit could be extremely disruptive if not catastrophic for our agri-food industries and Irish GDP could decline by as much as 4%. In time Irish industry could probably redirect its focus away from the UK market and attempt to replace UK exports to the EU if these are hit by high WTO tariffs. The Irish economy is currently growing at c. 5% p.a., so some slowdown could be accommodated, although the impact of Brexit would be very asymmetric and would effect border and rural areas most, areas which are not currently benefiting much from economic growth in any case.

But the impact of Brexit on the Irish political system, if not managed well, could be catastrophic from the point of view of the establishment parties. Economic and political nationalism, as exemplified by Sinn Fein, would be in the ascendant, and the future of the traditional parties - Fine Gael, Fianna Fail, and Labour - would be threatened. Although Fine Gael is perhaps the least nationalistic and most pro-free trade of these parties, Varadker is being very wise to play hard ball on the border issue. Whether he can hold his nerve as the Brexit talks teeter on the brink of collapse remains to be seen, but the survival of his government and his party as the largest party in Ireland may depend on it.

But the crunch time may be coming very soon. If the Irish Government, and by extension, the EU Council, judge that insufficient progress has been made on the initial three issues - the UK financial contribution, the rights of EU citizens in the UK, and the Irish Border - by the time of their December summit, the Brexit talks may collapse altogether, with Theresa May too weak to make sufficient concessions to get them going again. The political dynamic in the UK will move ever more precipitously in the direction of leaving the EU without any deal, in the vain hope that this threat will force the EU to dramatically soften its own position.

It is beyond the comprehension of most Brexiteers that the EU could refuse a free trade deal which, as far as they are concerned, is in everyone's interest. For them, only "politics" pejoratively understood, or a sclerotic Brussels bureaucracy could explain such a refusal. Hence the hostility towards Varadker and the indifference towards the implications for N. Ireland. Ireland is, for the UK, the weakest link in the EU chain. Break Ireland's resolve and you so the seeds of wider dissension in Europe.

Whether the Brexit talks break down in December or sometime thereafter hardly matters. Both the Irish Government and the EU are now giving more priority to preparations for a hard Brexit, up to and including a cliff edge Brexit with no deal at all. People who think this couldn't happen probably thought Trump couldn't be elected either. In my view it would be less of a surprise; It is fast becoming the probable outcome. The Irish Government is already saying that it wants guarantees there will be no hard border even in the event of a no deal Brexit. The more people talk about it, the more likely it becomes.

The December EU Council could well become a watershed moment, after which there is no stopping a slippery slide towards a no deal Brexit, with both sides retreating to entrenched positions. Theresa May has already shown little faith in the Brussels negotiating process, holding very few formal negotiating sessions and seeking to go over the heads of Michel Barnier's negotiating team by appealing directly to member state governments. The strategy seems to be to sow as much dissension amongst EU member states as possible, but as yet there are few signs that member states are willing to break ranks. And Merkel, embroiled in her own intractable coalition negotiations at home, is not in a strong position to come to her aid this time.

The Brexit denouement could come much sooner than anybody has expected: Because if the talks break down completely there is no reason why the UK should even wait until March 2019 to leave the EU. A no deal Brexit can happen in January 2018 as easily as March 2019. Of course industry will scream: They are already looking for a lengthy transitional deal to ease the pain of leaving. Wiser heads will counsel caution and delay. But will this appease the SUN readers who are taught to believe that it is only the rookie diplomacy, puerile insults, and showboating obstinacy of Ireland's naive and arrogant prime minister, Leo Varadkar, a man "increasingly out of his depth", who is holding up their glorious path to a post-Brexit nirvana?

He is unlikely to shut up, and we may be about to experience a very severe collision between competing perceptions of reality very soon. And it will not be pretty.

Display:
Somehow, laws, contracts, and the rule of law seem to be of no concern when the imminent glorious Brexit future is discussed. Why?

I hear the current scenario is:

  • December's council finds progress insufficient leading to postponement till March.
  • Businesses start implementing contingency plans and making loud noise (or, in Brexit language, traitors make economic defections).
  • Medium-term economic outlook craters.
  • Public opinion turns somewhat but more importantly parliamentary opinion turns and the 'mutineers' finally step up and further delay/defeat government's Brexit bills.
  • Government crisis, cabinet resignations...?
  • Brexit timeout?


Schengen is toast!
by epochepoque on Sun Nov 19th, 2017 at 05:27:51 AM EST
A reasonable scenario, but what would a time-out look like?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Nov 19th, 2017 at 11:44:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Article 50 extension? Probable even without a mess like this. But then the process could devolve into a long-term game of push-pull chicken.

Schengen is toast!
by epochepoque on Mon Nov 20th, 2017 at 07:32:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Given an A50 extension requires unanimous agreement, would at least some Council members not demand a price for their agreement?  For instance, Ireland would demand a written guarantee of no "hard border" controls within Ireland. Others might demand a down payment on the severance payment - something that would be v. difficult for the UK government to agree. Personally I think this is unlikely without a general election and change of government in the UK, so it would require a Commons confidence defeat, rather than just a few cabinet resignations.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Nov 21st, 2017 at 10:11:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
An extension also means the UK keeps contributing to the budget. It might not be such a hard sell after all.

Still, the UK is clearly creating a lot of ways for things to go really wrong.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Tue Nov 21st, 2017 at 10:18:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In the face of A50 expiring in a different or (even more) chaotic UK political landscape I suspect there'd be no cost imposed. The cost of chaotic departure is too high for everyone. In the face of exactly the same UK gov letting the clock run out because they couldn't agree among the themselves the situation would be different.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Nov 21st, 2017 at 11:33:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Dunning-Kruger:  people of low ability suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly assessing their cognitive ability as greater than it is. The cognitive bias of illusory superiority derives from the metacognitive inability of low-ability persons to recognize their own ineptitude.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Sun Nov 19th, 2017 at 06:01:19 AM EST
Persons of low ability lacking vision and leadership do quite often gain immense wealth which seems to be a guarantee  for political power and ultimately a finger on the nuclear codes in a briefcase.
by Oui on Sun Nov 19th, 2017 at 07:49:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
RTE - The Brexit Veto: How and Why Ireland raised the Stakes via
On Wednesday 8 November, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar startled the Dáil by saying a breakthrough at the EU summit in December was "likely", allowing the Brexit negotiations to move to the future trading arrangements between the UK and the EU.

His comments were picked up far and wide, not least because of the importance of Ireland in the first phase of the negotiations.

Yet they went against the grain of the prevailing belief that a breakthrough was very much in the balance, at best, or at worst, looking increasingly unlikely.



Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Nov 19th, 2017 at 09:41:35 AM EST
The Irish government is trying hard to portray itself as a friend of the UK and to avoid becoming isolated and being portrayed as the nation holding up progress in the Brexit talks. So publicly it is all smiles and positive vibes. Privately, not so much.

Objectively, what progress have the Brussels talks made since the EU Council meeting in October decided there was "insufficient progress"? The UK government appears to be holding some concessions in reserve to be delivered just ahead of the summit and to be spun as major concessions.

Whether they will be seen as too little, too late, is anyone's guess at this stage.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Nov 19th, 2017 at 12:28:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Irish Government is already saying that it wants guarantees there will be no hard border even in the event of a no deal Brexit.
Frank, if there is no deal there are no guarantees of anything. Here it is Ireland that has to explain how it expects this to happen.

This shows that Ireland is playing a very dangerous game of brinksmanship. Ireland's brinksmanship is principled, but that doesn't make it any more feasible to have a no-deal Brexit without an Irish border.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Nov 19th, 2017 at 10:22:15 AM EST
And the Irish government knows this.  But it isn't brinkmanship when you don't have a choice. This is the only time the Irish government will have any leverage in the whole process. Varadker can't afford to be outflanked by Sinn Fein and Fianna Fail on this or his government is history.

Once the second phase of negotiations on trade and transition begins, it is the larger countries and economic players who will be calling the shots and nobody is under any illusions that Irish interests and concerns will have much influence.

The Irish government is fighting hard not to become isolated in Europe on this so it will be interesting to see if the UK diplomatic offensive has been effective in disrupting the common front the EU27 have heretofore shown.

But rather than actually progressing the negotiations in Brussels the UK has been focused on a wider diplomatic offensive with May, Johnson and Davies spending a lot of time schmoozing EU national leaders and emphasising their common bilateral interests.

In footballing terms this is known as playing the man rather than the ball. I await the success or otherwise of this strategy with interest... Merkel and Macron remain key but may have other fish to fry...

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Nov 19th, 2017 at 12:19:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
if the talks break down completely there is no reason why the UK should even wait until March 2019 to leave the EU. A no deal Brexit can happen in January 2018 as easily as March 2019. Of course industry will scream.
They will not only scream. They will be destroyed. I also don't think this is right. The UK would be breaching all its treaty obligations and causing economic damage to the EU and Ireland with that breach. It would possibly also find itself in a position equivalent to a mutual trade embargo with the EU. March 2019 it is.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Nov 19th, 2017 at 10:26:02 AM EST
Article 50.3
3. The Treaties shall cease to apply to the State in question from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after the notification referred to in paragraph 2, unless the European Council, in agreement with the Member State concerned, unanimously decides to extend this period.

Two years is the maximum period for negotiations unless extended by unanimous vote. There is no minimum. The UK could write a letter to the EU Council seeking to withdraw on 1/1/2018 and if the Council agreed to this, that agreement could constitute a withdrawal agreement within the meaning of A. 50.3. Article 50 is not prescriptive as to what a withdrawal agreement must contain. It could be little more than a glorified mutual Auf Wiedersehen.

But I agree, this scenario is somewhat far fetched. I raise it only to illustrate how rapidly the current unstable situation could spin out of control with mounting acrimony on both sides. Both sides are still shouting past each other with little sign of any gathering consensus - even on the UK side alone. If the united EU27 front crumbles, all hell will break lose. The stakes are high and getting higher with every ratcheting up of the rhetoric.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Nov 19th, 2017 at 12:01:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ir is not in the EU's interest to agree to early exit.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Nov 19th, 2017 at 01:31:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The current UK gov is patently not creditworthy and utterly unresponsive to EU accommodation through PR overtures or Irish intermediation such as it is. UK gov will not even guarantee its own port surveillance ("Irish Sea border") with prospective subsidy billed ("the settlement") by EU! UK gov will not even honor NI preference for EU participation!

18 months of UK-biased reportage has entrenched a common perception that UK gov is capable, if inept, of directing BREXIT unilaterally and with impunity.

Inter alia, EU ought cut losses and enforce statutory exit date. All EU resources ought be directed to mitigating EU transition to EU-27 economies with special attention to technical support circumventing IE-UK dependencies and PR addressing IE anxiety over exploitation to which rentiers in its midst are accustomed. No more equivocations. And that is indeed the position for which the EU indicates
it's already preparing.

That is not "punishment." That is serving UK gov and the useful idiot DUP exactly the hand it dealt itself.

Then EU can return to concessions.


Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sun Nov 19th, 2017 at 02:35:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is not in anyone's interest, and neither is Brexit - bar a few few plutocrats who imagine it will enable them to turn the UK into a client state. But that hasn't stopped it from happening.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Nov 19th, 2017 at 03:32:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That is the EU inside man's last offer, and UK blew it off. And the UK is a "plutocrat" client state.

Since EU-27 is not dealing with rational actors whose interest does arresting BREXIT serve?

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sun Nov 19th, 2017 at 05:54:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
to abandon the union.

It occasionally occurs to me that as time passes by 1998 with smack talk about "EUR design" diminishing the several ridiculously devalued currencies and squabbling over USD and GBP consumer demand that there fewer Europeans can easily recall "quality of life" before the struggle for their united share in SDR and market power over the "developing world". So accustomed now are these ersatz neo-liberals to quibbling instead over trade balances, or material surplus, within EU-27, one might imagine for an instant that nostalgia for 27 independent states, duties, banking authorities, generalized volatility, labor and SIM roaming charges and such were attractive.

It's not, not even in "post-communist" Poland which fiercely protects EU protection of its few "competitive" advantages which otherwise would evaporate were the "worst thing that could happen" did.

Liberating the UK is a small price to pay for a promise of parity, or at least cheaper sovereign fund rates.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sun Nov 19th, 2017 at 06:58:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
[Early exit] is not in anyone's interest, and neither is Brexit - bar a few few plutocrats who imagine it will enable them to turn the UK into a client state.

I am having difficulty in seeing how ANY 'plutocrat' could see that they could benefit economically by Brexit. But I have had some hard lessons in just how far business people will go to preserve personal power - even at the expense of economic interest.

Forcing the Brexit vote seems, transparently, a badly miscalculated, opportunistic attempt to extend Cameron's term. What I cannot understand is how May, who supported Remain, can believe continuing on the course to Brexit will benefit her or anyone in the longer term. But perhaps she is just that blind and not that bright. But how does any UK plutocrat imagine that their economic interests will be benefited by Brexit?

Perhaps it it their fascist views that they want to see implemented into policy. But that was happening in No Trumps until the summer derailment. If the common sort can so easily be recruited to conspire against their own self interest in the name of cherished ideology, why not a plutocrat?

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Nov 22nd, 2017 at 04:15:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But perhaps she is just that blind and not that bright.

Perhaps? This is someone who thought that bringing back fox hunting was a winning strategy.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed Nov 22nd, 2017 at 04:18:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Just checking. But is it not more than a bit Quixotic to risk all for a triumphant return of Country Tories and their values of which fox hunting is emblematic? But if the USA can elect Trump...

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Nov 22nd, 2017 at 04:39:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Tories were certain to win.
They thought they would wipe Labour out for a generation. So they included things in the manifesto to play to their base, thinking that it would be ignored and people would still vote for them. Plus that way they would have received some nice funding from landed gentry.

But they did not return a majority. And their incompetence is now on display.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Wed Nov 22nd, 2017 at 05:09:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nothing sane seems likely to happen until/unless the May government falls. In a graceful fail May's government could acknowledge the problems and call for an election. More likely is an obdurate fail with massive disruption and the permanent disgrace of May and the Brexiteers. They are all deep in denial. The problem is that denial is the single most powerful psychic defense, but when it fails it tends to fail catastrophically. Cue catastrophe.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Nov 19th, 2017 at 09:18:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I suppose my larger point in writing this piece is that the politics matters. Up until now the UK government has been playing the Brexit game as if what happens in Westminster is the only game in town. But the other 27 members states also have their internal political concerns to worry about, and not all of them relate to trade. In the case of Ireland Brexit could have very fundamental implications for political stability which could trump very substantial economic concerns. And frankly what the SUN editorial think of this matters not at all.  They weren't even brave enough to put their editorial into their Irish edition.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Nov 19th, 2017 at 03:29:45 PM EST
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 ]
to early readers, but I have added a couple of paragraphs and a few sentences to the original text to elucidate some points further. Some words have been fine-tuned. Nothing has been deleted.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Nov 19th, 2017 at 09:53:40 PM EST
Germany's Merkel suffers blow as FDP pulls out of coalition talks

Talks on forming a coalition government in Germany have collapsed, leaving Angela Merkel facing her biggest challenge in 12 years as chancellor.

The free-market liberal FDP pulled out after four weeks of talks with Mrs Merkel's CDU/CSU bloc and the Greens.



She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Mon Nov 20th, 2017 at 03:58:11 PM EST
I didn't see that coming.

And I don't really see any option working: minority government (lack of tradition), grand coalition (spd has ruled it out) or new elections (polls show the same landscape as in the election).

Don't really see the position of the FDP improving either. Are they walking out in the hope of being called back for a better offer??

by fjallstrom on Mon Nov 20th, 2017 at 05:42:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am looking for insight as well.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Tue Nov 21st, 2017 at 02:02:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Still unclear at the moment which directions have more support; new vote or further talks on GroKo (grand coalition); Merkel prefers new vote at the moment.

In the background is the effect of the AfD. In GroKo, AfD becomes the largest opposition, and no one (but perhaps seehofer) wants to give them that voice. FDP seems to want AfD voters in the next round.

Political systems are breaking (in some cases long since broken) round the globe. I didn't see this happening here in 'Schland.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Tue Nov 21st, 2017 at 10:17:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Do we have any information on the substantial areas of policy dispute? Or is it mere political opportunism? I can't see there being huge ideological differences between the CDU and FDP...? Perhaps the FDP and Greens have diametrically opposed policy objectives and can't both be included in the same coalition?

Seems like AfD will be the net beneficiaries unless the German electorate take the view they have given Merkel a sufficiently bloody nose and warning as to future conduct and are happy to revert to business as normal after another election?

Or will AfD voters be energised by their success in disrupting 'business as usual'?  Will the SDP relent before or after another election?  Is this Schultz' last chance of a major role in German politics?

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Nov 21st, 2017 at 10:38:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As far as i can read, the key policy differences were about climate politics and immigration. Greens wanted a quicker and greater stop for germany's idiotic clinging to coal; FDP (and the black parties) cared more about "job loss."

Greens were willing to have an annual cap on immigration (200K) if family members were also allowed to emigrate. The other parties wanted to look good to AfD voters, and wanted far stronger policies.

These issues weren't the only ones, but the strongest ones. Just now a Green leader said they were also considering a stop to negotiation.

"(Robert) Habeck widersprach auch dem Eindruck, dass zwischen Union und Grünen große Einigkeit in den Sondierungsgesprächen geherrscht habe. Es gehöre "einfach zur Wahrheit, dass die Gespräche unglaublich schwierig waren", sagte der Grünen-Politiker. "Es lag von Anfang an kein Segen drauf. Auch wir Grünen haben sicher mehr als ein Dutzend Mal an Abbruch gedacht, aber uns immer wieder mühsam zusammengerauft. Man sollte jetzt nicht so tun, als hätte die Sonne über Jamaika geschienen, wenn die FDP geblieben wäre."

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Tue Nov 21st, 2017 at 12:34:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The FDP returns the heart-felt FU from the SPD. It's too early to be definitive, but Merkel's career likely will end with a whimper. Like many before her she couldn't let go at the right time.

Schengen is toast!
by epochepoque on Mon Nov 20th, 2017 at 07:42:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The French press this morning was hinting that Steinmayer pressed Merkel to resign right away, giving space for someone else to lead the negotiation. That is perhaps why she is now trying to force a new poll. For now, Steinmayer will have none of it.

For the first time in a long time, Merkel is no longer the strongest player in the game.

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 Tue Nov 21st, 2017 at 01:42:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Wow. New investigation into Vote Leave on front page of Guardian tomorrow. Amazing this is happening now. Amazing it's taken so long. https:/t.co/MyJCwoUjYR

— Carole Cadwalladr (@carolecadwalla) November 20, 2017

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Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Nov 20th, 2017 at 11:06:43 PM EST
Guardian slowly creeping into proper "misinformation" investigative territory, hidden and true beneficial owners shell corporations purchasing "divisive" advertising.

From Vote Leave inquiry: what is Electoral Commission investigating?
To Electoral Commission launches inquiry into leave campaign funding

By Friday perhaps you all will be choking on meddling and interference by foreign agents which will invalidate referendum returns in whole or in part.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Tue Nov 21st, 2017 at 12:16:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is what we are up against...

Dublin using North for its own ends on Brexit, claims Foster

Government's approach `careless' as only EU will reimpose border, says DUP leader

Speaking after a meeting with Theresa May in 10 Downing Street, the DUP leader said the Government's approach in advance of next month's EU summit was careless.

"I have to say I was rather concerned to see the way they were trying to use Northern Ireland to get maximum leverage in relation to the negotiations at present. I think that's careless and I don't agree with that," she said.

"Obviously, we have worked very hard to have a peaceful Northern Ireland and it would be very wrong to suggest that leaving the European Union would in some way threaten that peace. Because of course it's the people of Northern Ireland who have brought about the peace. Others have supported us and we fully recognise that," she told The Irish Times.

Ms Foster said the prime minister had restated her opposition to introducing any new border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom. The DUP leader said the Government should work with London and Belfast to find practical solutions that can keep the Border frictionless.

"If people are going to put up borders it will be the European Union that puts up a border. It will certainly not be the United Kingdom or Northern Ireland.

The people of Northern Ireland also voted against Brexit...

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Nov 21st, 2017 at 05:26:10 PM EST
Compulsive lying

"Obviously, we have worked very hard to have a peaceful Northern Ireland and it would be very wrong to suggest that leaving the European Union would in some way threaten that peace. Because of course it's the people of Northern Ireland who have brought about the peace. Others have supported us and we fully recognise that," she told The Irish Times.

is a trait of a certain personality, or mental, disorder: In this case asserting cooperation while obstructing cooperation within domestic and between international governments' agencies to resolve incompatible business goals. The formula of all lies is to deny true facts, thereby representing false reality. All lies are unequivocal in these facts. That statement renders the patent, true disrepair of litigation, the conflict, between the parties all the more appalling. RES IPSA LOQUITOR: There is no peace, because there is no agreement.

When one encounter persons such as this, escalation of conflict which they seek is inevitable. The logical course of action to preclude further harm is to remove oneself from conflict, the root of which nurtured by the liar, until such time the afflicted are whole and amenable to mutually constructive relations. Gorgias

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Tue Nov 21st, 2017 at 09:46:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
People need to keep in mind that the DUP are not exactly rational players.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Nov 22nd, 2017 at 11:38:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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