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So Boris is now hoist on his own petard. He is left with a choice between breaking the law, and breaking his word (yet again). The fact that he has prorogued parliament for 5 weeks actually let's parliament off the hook of having to appear to be doing something useful. Once the opposition have turned down his appeal for an election on Monday for the second time, his taunts that they are running away from the people will lose their effectiveness: Parliament can't call an election if it isn't even sitting.

In the meantime, disparate opposition groups are getting practice working together, and being seen to be effective. Meanwhile Boris' Brussels negotiations are not going well:
Boris Johnson's Irish border plan stalls after 'disastrous' EU talks

Boris Johnson's first concrete proposal for replacing the Irish backstop has hit the buffers in the latest "disastrous" meeting between the prime minister's chief negotiator and the EU.

In a heavily trailed move, Johnson's envoy, David Frost, proposed an all-Ireland food standards zone on Friday, but the UK is also seeking to give the Stormont assembly a say on whether it would continue in the years ahead.

The attempt to give the proposed arrangement what British officials have described as democratic legitimacy by involving politicians in Northern Ireland was firmly knocked back by the EU. European commission negotiators said such a proposal would leave Ireland in a constant state of uncertainty over the future.

The development comes as EU sources close to the negotiation spoke of their doubts about the potential fruitfulness of the talks given the likelihood of a general election and the insistence from the prime minister that his negotiating position has been wrecked by no deal being taken off the table.

EU officials involved in the negotiations are understood to have lamented that Frost has been acting "like a spokesman" for the prime minister, saying that Theresa May's envoy, Olly Robbins, had at least been able to talk around the problems encountered in the talks.

It hasn't escaped Brussels notice that the N.I. Assembly hasn't even met in almost 3 years, has no competence in trade matters, and would be subject to a DUP veto if it did meet. Also it hardly makes sense to conduct sanitary and phytosanitary checks in Belfast and Larne harbours and  VAT and customs checks elsewhere. Agri-foods constitute only about 30% of N.I./I.E. trade and EU officials need a solution that covers all such trade.

Boris might be said to be trying to have it both ways, denying the 56% of N.I. voters who voted to Remain the right to remain, but providing the DUP with a veto on North South cooperation indefinitely.

Earlier in the week Johnson had referenced the comments of the former Democratic Unionist party (DUP) leader Ian Paisley who had said of Northern Ireland that the people were British but "the cattle were Irish".

Johnson is insisting, in a move designed to make the proposal palatable to the DUP, that the arrangement would have to "clearly enjoy the consent of all parties and institutions with an interest".

It is understood the UK has suggested there is a need for Stormont to be able to vote on the continuation of the proposed common regulatory area, which has been described by EU officials as a "backstop-lite".

EU sources said the suggestion was firmly rebuffed and that recent meetings had been a "disaster", with the gap between the two negotiating teams seemingly widening by the day.

Sources said the discussion over the common agrifood area was "cursory" and further discussions over the UK's preferred alternative to the backstop were expected next week.

Irish government sources reacted angrily to Johnson's gambit, saying the protection of the all-Ireland economy was a vital element of the Good Friday agreement, and that the responsibility for protecting the peace process lay with Westminster and not the Northern Ireland assembly.



Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Sep 6th, 2019 at 09:52:56 PM EST

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