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Anglo-Irish Agreement on Border strangled at birth

by Frank Schnittger Mon Dec 4th, 2017 at 05:57:13 PM EST

The crunch has indeed become a crisis. Agreement between the UK and Irish governments on the Irish border question was reached this morning in time for Theresa May's lunch meeting with Commission President Juncker, only to unravel when May spoke to DUP leader Arlene Foster by phone during the meeting.

The Irish insistence that there be no "regulatory divergence" within Ireland, North and south, in order to prevent the emergence of a hard border within Ireland was watered down slightly to a guarantee that there would be "regulatory alignment" between Northern and southern Ireland. Presumably this means a guarantee of regulatory "equivalence" and mutual recognition, North and south, rather than necessarily absolutely identical regulations. Leo Varadker later said that there was no difference between those forms of words, as far as the Irish Government was concerned, although a UK government spokesman sought to make much of the distinction, presumably to provide some solace to the DUP.

Importantly, from the Irish government's point of view, this agreement has been concluded by the EU Commission Brexit negotiating team and applies whether or not the UK leaves the EU with a Brexit deal on other matters. This effectively removes the Irish border as a potential bargaining chip or bone of contention in phase 2 of the Brexit negotiations and gives Ireland some insurance against the prospect of absolute chaos if the UK leaves the EU without any other Brexit deal.

However this commitment alarmed the DUP who are hyper-sensitive to the possibility that this might result in "regulatory divergence" between N. Ireland and Britain when the UK leaves the EU, Single market and Customs Union. Other Unionist leaders and some Brexiteers immediately joined the chorus of disapproval.

The problem for Theresa May was exacerbated when Nicola Sturgeon immediately asked for a similar status for Scotland followed by Sadiq Khan asking for the same status for London. Even Welsh First Minister, Carwyn James, stated Wales would like the same special status, despite the fact that Wales voted for Brexit. This effectively undermines the UK government position that the UK as a whole will leave the Single Market and Customs Union as well as the EU.

We thus have the extraordinary situation where Scotland, London, and Wales want what the DUP has rejected outright for N. Ireland. What is even more extraordinary is that May would have met Juncker with the UK government saying a deal had been reached, only for that deal to unravel during the meeting when the DUP objected.  

The first law of negotiation is to have "all your ducks in a row" before going public on an agreement. Irish Taoiseach, Leo Varadker, was forced to cancel a 2.30 news conference to announce the deal as a result. Mrs. May can expect a difficult reception in the House of Commons tonight and her leadership and the continuation of her government must be considered to be in doubt if the DUP and hard Brexiteers maintain their opposition to the deal.

The SNP leader, Nicola Sturgeon stated: "Right now, Ireland is powerfully demonstrating the importance of being independent when it comes to defending your vital national interests." Leo Varadker, at his press briefing just concluded, stated that the agreement addresses all of the Irish government "red-line issues" relating to the Peace process, the Good Friday Agreement, the rights of Irish (and EU) citizens in Northern Ireland, the Common Travel Area, EU peace and Intereg funding, respect for Ireland's continuing membership of EU, and the avoidance of hard border.

The UK governmental crisis I had always expected when the Brexit talks came to crescendo appears to have come early, before Phase 1 of the negotiations have even been concluded. Nevertheless the Irish government is now in a very strong position: having come to an agreement with the UK government they cannot now be accused of holding up progression to phase 2 of the Brexit negotiations on transition and trade. The reaction of the DUP will also provide the Irish government with some cover against any opposition charges that they failed to negotiate a tough deal.

Leo Varadker has stated at a news conference that they "had an agreed deal", and it was not the responsibility of the Irish government to ensure that all parts of the Conservative party and indeed the DUP were on board. "Of course the Irish government will always listen to what the DUP has to say, but we have to remember they are only one party amongst many in N. Ireland, and we have to be cognisant of what the other parties, and indeed the majority of the people of N. Ireland are saying". Ouch. The Irish government are happy to give the UK government more time to sort out its position, but there will be no change in the wording.

UK commentator Sam Coates, political correspondent for The Times, has described Leo Varadkers' press conference as extremely unhelpful and likely to "wind up" elements of the UK establishment. Varadker has a reputation as a plain speaker rather than as a master of the dark arts of diplomatic obfuscation. However Sam Coates described the current impasse as likely to be a pause rather than a complete breakdown in the negotiations.

Brigid Laffan, Director of the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, and Director of the Global Governance Programme, European University Institute in Florence, argued, on the other hand, that Ireland has in vain tried to attract the attention of the UK government to the difficulties posed by Brexit for the border, and has worked very hard to prevent being "bounced" into agreeing to the Brexit talks progressing to phase 2 without the border issue being addressed. While Varadker had called a Cabinet meeting this morning to discuss the agreement, and briefed all the opposition party leaders, there appeared to have been a communications failure on the UK side.

I will continue to update/add to this diary as events unfold.

tbh I can't imagine where the way forward lies, except by discounting the objections of the DUP.

Varadker is completely right, the DUP are a minority opinion even in Ulster and are only important because of the deal with the Tories in Westminster. But, equally, the Tories are hoist by their own petard here; they were the ones who insisted right at the start that the whole of the UK was leaving the EU, whole and entire.

Again, this was short term BS to shut Nicola Sturgeon up, now it comes back to bite them.

How do we get to brexit? Well, as the joke says, I wouldn't start from here.

If it didn't have the probability of such dire outcomes, I would be laughing myself stupid at the mess the tories have made. It's all very well watching them drive over the cliff, a lot less fun when you're in the bus with them when they've got airbags and most of us haven't

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Dec 4th, 2017 at 07:12:42 PM EST
One way out would be for May to tell the DUP that the UK Government will devolve all regulatory matters relating to N. Ireland to N. Ireland, and then it would then be up to a devolved administration to decide precisely how this will be implemented.

Of course the DUP would then first have to get agreement from Sinn Fein to form a devolved administration, and then get Sinn Fein to agree to diverge from EU regulations in breach of an international Treaty. Good luck with that, but it would serve to highlight the fact that the DUP are not the sole arbiters of what happens in N. Ireland.

Either May has been spectacularly incompetent, or the plan was to bounce the DUP into this agreement.  The DUP now have the choice of sucking this up or bringing down the government and dealing with Corbyn instead.

However May may also not be able to survive a vote of confidence within the Tory party, in which case we may have a new Tory government led by someone else.

Either way, things have changed utterly.  It is hard for the Tories to refuse Scotland, London and Wales the same deal they have offered N. Ireland, and if they did offer them opt-outs, you would have the prospect of customs controls at England's borders with Scotland, Wales and perhaps London!

So the strategy of leaving the Customs Union is probably holed below the waterline... I can't see how May can survive this. I suspect Varadker calculated that he would rather deal with a UK government not dependent on the DUP, so her survival is not a priority. And she knew this. So she had no choice between a hard no deal Brexit not even getting to phase 2, or some chance of progressing the Brexit talks.

The no deal Brexit bluff has been called.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Dec 4th, 2017 at 07:29:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The ridiculousness of having customs controls on the outskirts of London may help to drive home the reason why the Irish government had such difficulty with a return to a hard border with N. Ireland.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Dec 4th, 2017 at 07:41:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think the IE/EU calculation is either May can do a deal or she can fall or they discover that they have to prepare for a disaster Brexit. No one can afford to let this charade where the UK government have no idea what they want continue.

My suggestion is that she offer the DUP an official statement that the Pope is the Antichrist and that dinosaurs coexisted with cavemen.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Dec 4th, 2017 at 08:04:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Devolved regulation still leaves you with a NI/GB border, which also isn't possible.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Dec 4th, 2017 at 08:05:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Brexit: a shambolic day raises the stakes

Theresa May must either bring along her opponents or face them down
The DUP's opposition to special status is more political stagecraft than principled conviction. The Belfast Agreement enshrines Northern Ireland's special status. The region already opts out of many British laws the DUP doesn't like, and, as unionist support for a 12.5 per cent corporate tax rate in the North shows, it has long ago conceded the principle of regulatory alignment with the Republic. The same goes for its supposed opposition to goods controls in the Irish Sea - a position that already obtains for animal and plant products.

Under the devolved regulation scenario, customs controls in the Irish sea would only be required if the devolved Executive choose to allow a divergence in regulation between N.I. and G.B.

An example of divergence in regulation now would be abortion: GB allows it while N.I. doesn't.

The DUP is also trying to have it's cake and eat it. Allowing divergence with GB when its ideological preferences require it.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Dec 4th, 2017 at 08:52:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
DUP have stated obviously incompatible requirements. So ANY solution will be in breach of at least one of them.
Appeasing them is a wholly useless task.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi
by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Tue Dec 5th, 2017 at 09:29:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We are at the point where no deal is the only deal. The Tories cannot finesse their way around the DUP without accepting certain truths they have spent 18 months denying and which half their backbench will never accept.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Dec 4th, 2017 at 08:18:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Brexit: Varadkar `surprised and disappointed' at lack of deal
"We don't want an Irish Sea border any more than we want one between Newry and Dublin," he said. He said he had contacted Mr Juncker and European Council president Donald Tusk and confirmed there was agreement over the text.

"I acknowledge that Theresa May is negotiating in good faith. My position is unequivocal. Ireland wants to proceed to phase two. We cannot agree unless there are firm guarantees on the lack of a hard Border in any circumstances. I still hope this matter can be concluded in the coming days."

When asked by a reporter about the difference between the terms "regulatory convergence" and "regulatory alignment", he said the two things "mean the same in our view. We are happy to accept either."

Regarding the role of the DUP, he said listening to the DUP is important, but that they were just one party in Northern Ireland, "we need to have regard to all the parties".

"That's always been our approach in this. The motivation of the Irish Government is to try to maintain the status quo in Ireland, allowing people to continue with their normal lives, cross the Border as they do now. We don't wont to pick a row with anyone, there's no hidden agenda here."

He said it was never the Irish Government's role to ensure the DUP was onside. "We engaged in negotiations in good faith with EU and UK. We agreed a text this morning, we believe it stands, but we believe the prime minister needs more time."

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Dec 4th, 2017 at 07:56:34 PM EST
If Sinn Fein or even Fianna Fail were in power, it would be easy for the DUP to depict this debacle as a power grab by the south and a step towards a United Ireland. The fact that Varadker is an avoid conservative leading the least nationalistic party in Ireland makes this more difficult. Fine Gael is the successor to the side in the Irish Civil war which agreed and signed the Treaty with the UK partitioning Ireland and leading to the creation of N. Ireland as a separate entity.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Dec 4th, 2017 at 08:01:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The differences between the parties of the Irish Republic are neither here nor there. As far as the UK tabloids are concerned, which probably reflect the prevailing prejudices of the Tory backbenches, any Irish govt is the IRA in a suit.

The only Irish politician we experience on the mainalnd will be either some sub-Paisleyite screaming "NO!!! about something or other or Sinn Fein justifying some atrocity.  So the general opinion of Irish politics is extemely low.

And yes I do know the diffeence between Ireland and Ulster, but tabloids don't know and don't care.

So, if those are the starting opinions of British politicians, eg Boris, as they consider the issues of Ireland, don't be too surprised if they're not really taken seriously.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Dec 4th, 2017 at 08:15:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I wasn't thinking so much of the propaganda battle in Britain as the one in N. Ireland - the DUP vs. other parties in N. Ireland.  N. Ireland people are generally much more aware of the nuances of Irish politics North and south than people on the "mainland". This crisis could undermine the DUP's claim to be the largest party in N. Ireland, and even (in the longer term) the largest party within Unionism in N. Ireland.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Dec 4th, 2017 at 08:40:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe, but we're not dealing with electoral timeframes here, we're talking weeks at most

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Dec 4th, 2017 at 09:01:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The choice facing the DUP now is this deal or dealing with Corbyn or some other Tory leader in future.

The choice facing the Tory parliamentary party is this deal or no move to phase two and a no deal Brexit. Cue business confidence/Sterling collapse.

My guess is they will accept this deal (because they don't really care about NI) but demand May's head as the price of their agreement.  A new Tory leader (Amber Rudd?, Boris?) will then "move on" to phase 2 negotiations and this whole sorry saga will then be airbrushed from the Tory collective psyche as the product of the ancien regime.

Until the next time. When they realise that a Canada Style trade deal is all that is on offer unless they pay Norway style for access to the single market.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Dec 4th, 2017 at 09:09:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Asking fundamentalists to think or behave rationally is probably optimistic. The DUP tend not to be in the business of compromise.

And neither are the brexiteers, they really do believe the no deal scenario is an actual thing that will free them of the EU and that all will be well almost immediately. As I said, rationality is not a strong point.

So, I imagine right now that the Rees Mogg, Redswood, Davis axis are feeling pretty happy right now as their real prize looms suddenly closer

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Dec 4th, 2017 at 10:05:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A limerick:
As Britain negotiates Brexit
The border continues to vexit
With May's coalition
In fragile condition
This could be the issue that fexit.
by Gag Halfrunt on Mon Dec 4th, 2017 at 08:04:49 PM EST
You should submit as an LTE to Irish Times and Independent.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Dec 4th, 2017 at 08:42:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I didn't write it.
by Gag Halfrunt on Mon Dec 4th, 2017 at 10:06:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So the arrogantly incompetent are defeated by the viciously ignorant.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Mon Dec 4th, 2017 at 10:32:36 PM EST
Watching the BBC News and Newsnight gives one the distinct impression that the deal had never really been fully agreed and that it was, at best, a draft agreement.  So why did both Juncker and Tusk ring Varadker to say the EU and UK negotiating teams had agreed a wording for the deal and asking Varadker was he ok with it?

What is the point of negotiating with a negotiating team if any agreement you come to can be overturned within hours by someone (DUP leader, Arlene Foster) not party to the negotiations? May can either deliver on any deal she agrees, or there is no point in even talking to her. Is she the Prime Minister, or what?

And where was David Davis during all of this? He was supposed to be leading the UK negotiating team. Was the UK cabinet consulted? Had anybody been charged with keeping the DUP in the loop and on board? Why was the DUP's response not anticipated, or was it?

Expecting the EU or Ireland to now renegotiate the deal and expect something less is futile. What is to prevent the UK government resiling on every other agreement reached as part of these negotiations once they are opposed by some key Brexiteers (as they surely will)?

The UK government now has a simple choice. Stand by its word or give up the pretence they are a serious government trying to negotiate a serious agreement. It now becomes easy for the EU Council to declare there has been "insufficient progress" and it is the UK government/DUP who will cop the blame.

So this deal will pass or these negotiations are history. The UK faces a stark deal/no deal choice much earlier than almost anybody had anticipated. May has one last chance to assert her authority. Whether her party and the DUP will allow her to do so is aybody's guess at this stage.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Dec 5th, 2017 at 12:24:01 AM EST
Ian Dunt has a good piece at politics.co.uk - Ireland chaos: Brexit will either break May now or it'll break her later

The problem is of her own making. In October last year, she promised to leave the single market and customs union. She should not have done this. ... That was the time to face down the impossible demands of the hard right of her party.

Instead, she rashly promised an extreme Brexit.


May has three choices, all of which break her. If she insists on a border in Ireland, the talks break down and she is finished. If she insists on a border in the Irish sea, the DUP pull the plug on her parliamentary deal and she is finished. If she accepts regulatory alignment for the whole of the UK, the Cabinet hawks revolt and she is finished. Whatever happens, it's hard to see how she survives.

by oldremainmer48 on Tue Dec 5th, 2017 at 09:29:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hard Brexiters have just discovered Britain is weaker than Ireland
There may be some way to go, but today we moved much closer to a British climbdown on the question of the Irish border after Brexit. And this will turn an acrimonious debate on its head. So far, we've been talking about the implications of Brexit for Ireland. Now we have to talk about the implications of Ireland for Brexit.

It is not just that Britain's weakness in its negotiations with the European Union has been made even more starkly clear. On the three issues on which "sufficient progress" had to be made - people, money and Ireland - Britain seems likely to suffer a hat-trick of defeats.

Its concessions in the talks on the border issue are not yet official, and may seem more abstract and less visceral than its retreats on the divorce bill and the rights of EU citizens in the UK; but they may prove to be much more fundamental and much more problematic for the whole Brexit project. There is a sense here of the return of the repressed: the Brexiters pretended Ireland did not exist; now it has come back to haunt their grand schemes.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Dec 5th, 2017 at 12:46:02 AM EST
At this point I start to wonder when the Tories are going to have a leadership contest.  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Tue Dec 5th, 2017 at 12:56:43 AM EST

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar arrives at Government Buildings to attend an emergency cabinet meeting on Brexit. Photograph: Laura Hutton/PA Wire
The meaning of Varadkar's words was unmistakable: the British government had made an agreement and was now going back on it. That this had happened was testament to the political uncertainty - chaos might be a better word - in London. That the Taoiseach told everyone about it showed everyone how much relations between Dublin and London had deteriorated.

Varadkar repeated his surprise and disappointment several times during the 24-minute press conference. He insisted that he was willing to give the British more time. He might even be willing to change some of the language in the agreement - but not, he emphasised, its meaning. If the British could not agree to stick by what they had already agreed, then there would be no deal, and the Brexit talks would stall. There would be no progress until Dublin was happy.

It was a spectacular unravelling to a day that had begun brightly for the Government. The morning had seen news of the long-awaited and much-anticipated breakthrough in the EU-UK talks within hours of a crucial meeting between Theresa May and the European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker.


Varadkar had already called a special meeting of his Cabinet for 9am to sign off on the deal that emerged over the weekend. When Ministers met, there was no final word from Brussels, but Varadkar and Coveney briefed Ministers on what was expected later that day.

At 11am Coveney was summoned out of the Cabinet room for a phone call from Juncker in Brussels, where he was told the EU and UK teams had agreed the final draft. Coveney asked Varadkar out. The Taoiseach read the key passage from their text down the phone to Brussels to confirm that the British had agreed. Juncker confirmed they had.


May went into her lunch with Juncker in Brussels ready to sign off on the morning's deal - not just on Ireland, but also citizens' rights and the financial settlement - to clear the way for the phase two talks to be rubber-stamped by EU leaders next week. Midway through lunch, May stepped out to take a call from the DUP leader Arlene Foster. By the time she returned, the deal was off.


This morning, as officials try to pick up the pieces with a deadline looming over their heads, British-Irish relations are as fraught as they have been in 30 years or more.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Dec 5th, 2017 at 07:19:35 AM EST
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Dec 5th, 2017 at 08:41:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Britain's Brexiteers surprise us with their realism
The mystery about Leavers is not, as it was for so long, why they are so angry. The mystery now is why they are not angrier. They made previous Tory leaders suffer for any perceived weakness on Europe. Their opposition to hers feels tokenistic by comparison. There are open letters from a core of recalcitrants, conspiracies to remove her that amount to so much shadow boxing and an incessant drawing of red lines that are subsequently breached without consequence. Even the conservative press is restrained in calling betrayal.


The more plausible theory is that Leavers themselves have been on what a Californian life coach might call a "journey". A decisive number of them have found the reality of the negotiations chastening. Their commitment to exit remains sharp. In fact it is their will to see it through against various prospective obstacles - a Labour government, a change in public opinion, the sheer passage of time - that disciplines them as supporters, or at least non-enemies, of May.

However, they no longer believe that Britain is evenly matched against the world's largest trade bloc, and therefore able to demand the moon on a stick. Nor do they regard an exit without a deal as something to contemplate lightly.

This intellectual conversion is embodied in David Davis. Almost everything the Brexit secretary is going along with - the exit fee, the transition, even the sequencing of the negotiations themselves - contradicts his bluffness of less than a year ago, which envisaged Britain all but naming terms to a pitiful giant called Europe.

Another politician who salvaged so little from his original vision might have quit out of embarrassment or principle. But there is a kind of maturity in his uncomplaining deference to diplomatic realities. Better a sheepish adjustment to the facts than vainglorious resistance as the clock runs down on the negotiations.

The question is how far this ideological flexibility will bend. In the next round of talks Britain will probably have to choose between a limited trade deal - the "Canadian" option, they call it, eliding Britain with a country that does 10 per cent of its trade with the EU - or something close to single-market membership, with all the concomitant duties.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Dec 5th, 2017 at 07:38:43 AM EST
I think he misses the point. Davis can't go on an intellectual journey, he's far too stupid for that. Every report from Brussels has carried an under current of shock from the EU side at the laziness, vacuousness and sheer lack of praparation from the UK negotiating team, most especially from Davis.

I suspect his silence is because he simply does not understand the defeat the govt is suffering. Elsewhere you ask where he's gone; he's been sidelined as May realises that the gig is up and things have to happen by Friday and the 3 sttoges ain't getting it done.

Today May has a choice. She can either ignore the DUP, hiding behind the pro-EU majority in Ulster, or she can give in to them. I'm not convinced there is a middle ground. Both choices spell trouble, real deep dark trouble from one faction or another, but one choice allows progress and allows the illusion of a government in control and the other is crisis.

Either way, I'm not sure she can survive as PM, but legacy is a curious thing. Make the right choice and history might be kind. The wrong choice will be brutal to her.

The question she has to answer is whether she ants this trouble to be caused by a deal or a failure.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Dec 5th, 2017 at 08:13:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The DUP MPs are convinced hard core Brexiteers - quite apart from their bigotry, homophobia and sectarian instincts in a N. I. context - and hang around a lot of English Brexiteers in London. So there is a close bond between them. I suspect none of them believe any final Brexit deal will pass the House of Commons and so may be keeping their powder dry for the moment.

The danger for them with this deal is that it applies even if there is no Brexit deal on other matters. Thus in a no deal scenario the onus will be on the UK to prevent a border emerging in the Irish sea as the lack of  border within Ireland has already been guaranteed. The DUP would then have no option but to advocate for the UK remaining in the SM/CU as a whole.  Anathema.

The danger for the EU is that their negotiating team is being too successful, crafting an agreement entirely to the EU's liking and giving May, or her successor(s) no bones to throw to the hungry Brexit dogs and making a Commons rejection all the more likely. Thus my predictions of a no deal Brexit are reinforced, unless there is a general election in the meantime.

This debacle makes a general election sooner rather than later much more likely. DUP MPs are not especially vulnerable. There is virtually no cross-community voting in N.I. and the Official Unionists (OUP) are generally too week to challenge the DUP in the short term. Their problem is the likelihood of a Corbyn victory removing their influence (and that of their English Brexiteer friends) in Westminster altogether.

They will probably be guided by their English Brexiteer friends on this issue so. Avoiding an election now and hoping to enable a no-deal Brexit slip through by default. May probably has her Brexiteer Ministers working on them as we speak. Stupid as they may be in intellectual terms, they have an animal instinct for survival. As Bush, Trump and May have demonstrated, intellectual intelligence, curiosity or imagination is not a requirement for survival in politics.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Dec 5th, 2017 at 09:09:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
...but legacy is a curious thing.

I have believed this for some time. Impossible things won't happen, so May won't be able to pull off an acceptable Brexit. This will cause the government to fall. May will have to chose between continued folly and leaving some sort of legacy and will likely choose legacy. The biggest question is what will happen after her government falls.

It is as if in bridge, her partner had opened with a 'psychic' bid, she responded by putting them in a three no-trump contract, which was doubled, only to discover that the pair had less than half the points combined. She played the doomed hand as well as she could and made book. It will be curious as to what she will say two years hence.

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

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Dec 5th, 2017 at 04:41:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
May backs down despite doubts over DUP appetite for election
It was all supposed to run as smoothly as an episode of BBC's Strictly Come Dancing. Dublin, London and Brussels would devise the choreography and the interested parties would ensure the steps were executed elegantly and precisely.

In a haze of seamless chiffon and frictionless taffeta, the threat of a hard Border would disappear forever. But then, it seems, Arlene Foster, decided to enter the dance floor with a pair of hob-nailed boots rather than her dancing pumps and in a matter of minutes the dance routine was wrecked, and Theresa, Jean-Claude and Leo were upended on the floor.

Everything had appeared so beautifully synchronised. During the morning we learned that the proposed compromise to ensure a soft border would require the "creative ambiguity" that helped bring about the Belfast Agreement almost 20 years ago. First we heard there would be no North-South "regulatory divergence" post Brexit and then we learned that this phrase was amended to bringing about "regulatory alignment" on both sides of the Border. Who could have an issue with such language?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Dec 5th, 2017 at 07:50:32 AM EST
Today the contest is apparently between whom will bring May's government down:

a) the DUP, in case a bespoke agreement is struck for Northern Ireland;

b) or the Brexiteer MPs, in case the regulatory harmonisation is extended to the whole of the UK.

As Helen points above, the only path of survival for this government is to quit negotiations and go for the "no deal" scenario. However, the way in which they caved in to the EU Council's demands shows how desperate they have become for some sort of trade deal with the EU. By this time they have learned how the WTO and FTAs with the rest of the world are nothing but delusion.

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 Dec 5th, 2017 at 03:58:33 PM EST
Apparently the government spin is that regulatory alignment was in the Florence speech and there has been no change of policy.

I can't stop giggling. This is some of the most darkly hilarious shit I've seen in ages.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Dec 5th, 2017 at 04:03:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, "darkly hilarious" does come with absolutely horrible consequences... so perhaps hilarious doesn't work in this context.

no matter in which direction one looks, politicians are simply and dangerously lying... with the caveat that are so psychologically deranged they actually think they believe the shit they say (they lie so much they no longer know what it's like not to lie).

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

by Crazy Horse on Tue Dec 5th, 2017 at 05:15:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thus "darkly".
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Dec 5th, 2017 at 10:02:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
might also cover it?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Dec 6th, 2017 at 11:30:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Or more under the apocalyptical amusement section. I have noticed that prolonged exposure to gradual horible trends can results in fits of laughter.

Might be a defense mechanism.

by fjallstrom on Fri Dec 8th, 2017 at 03:52:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Guardian | 'We can't go on like this': mood of resignation in EU as Brexit talks stutter

"We cannot go on like this, with no idea what the UK wants. She just has to have the conversation with her own cabinet, and if that upsets someone, or someone resigns, so be it. She has to say what kind of trading relationship she is seeking. We cannot do it for her, and she cannot defer forever."


One MEP said the government's weakness was "a key question" for the EU. "We are also in a very difficult position because it would not be in our interests to see the whole thing fall apart," said Petri Sarvamaa, a Finnish centre-right MEP who is a vice-chair of the European parliament's budgets committee. "At the same time ... it's not our duty to help the British government in a negotiation that is between them and us.

"The bottom line is that the May government is facing an impossible task," said Sarvamaa, adding that promises made to British voters during the referendum campaign and before June's snap election could not be kept. The government was in "an ever-worsening, deteriorating cycle," he said. "I love Britain and I hate to see what is going on.


Even if an agreement on Brexit was reached in the coming days, Kapern said, Monday's events showed "that the United Kingdom will not only leave the EU but, above all, the world stage".

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 Dec 5th, 2017 at 08:07:08 PM EST
Going over the headlines of major UK newspapers: May and Foster have not spoken again since yesterday's lunch time phone call and have for the moment no calendar to reconvene. Either the DUP has definitely pulled the plug on this government or the government has gone totally adrift.

This can not last much longer. Something must break.

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 Dec 5th, 2017 at 08:26:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Brexit latest: Theresa May's hopes of rescuing EU negotiations hit fresh setback as DUP talks are delayed"

No 10 admits it does not know when crucial talks to resolve dispute with Arlene Foster will go ahead

Leadership contest by Christmas?

Anyone making book?

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

by ATinNM on Tue Dec 5th, 2017 at 09:13:34 PM EST
I have absoutely no idea. It's just become beyond farce, and the worst of it is that 52% of the electorate still think it's a great idea

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Dec 6th, 2017 at 02:10:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
According to wikipedia polls since this summer has a small but steady lead for remain (in case of new referendum) and wrong (on the question of if Brexit was right or wrong). So there appears to be some movement in popular opinion, though with over 10% undecided, nothing is certain if there was a second referendum.
by fjallstrom on Fri Dec 8th, 2017 at 04:03:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Independent | Brexit: Separate rules for Northern Ireland would 'unravel entire UK', Ruth Davidson warned Theresa May

'I made clear to the Prime Minister yesterday that neither I nor the 13 Scottish Conservative MPs at Westminster could support such an arrangement'

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 Wed Dec 6th, 2017 at 01:08:08 PM EST
See my latest diary at on this very point, although I hadn't seen this story when I wrote it.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Dec 6th, 2017 at 01:23:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The veto plunged the Prime Minister into a fresh crisis, with a new EU deadline to present an acceptable plan to avoid a hard Irish land border - with customs checks - looming at the <b?end of the week</b>.

[emphasis added to denote the several points of misinformation --in one sentence-- propagated by domestic press. Yes, the Independent is an organ of UK. Yes, NI is a province of the UK and not a sovereign state. And, yes, a tory is a Tory by any name. And, no, Scotland is not a unique party to the GFA, an international peace treaty. Scotland is a province of the UK, too.]

No wonder peoples of the EU have lost interest in BREXIT. UK in toto is utterly discredited, not creditable for "future partnership". That needs to be acknowledged before proceeding with the next 15 months of UK drama digest by answering one question: Would you do business with any UK constituent?

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Wed Dec 6th, 2017 at 02:18:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I can't believe anyone was surprised the DUP rejected a wet border.  It's only an existential issue for them.  Did May actually believe she had them in pocket, or was this just a crass ploy?  And how did Varadker fall for it?  Who gains from this fail?
by rifek on Fri Dec 8th, 2017 at 02:26:15 AM EST
Varadker is in the business of addressing Irish problems, not UK problems.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Dec 9th, 2017 at 12:57:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If the DUP blocks May's abilities to address Irish concerns, that would seem to me to be an Irish problem.
by rifek on Tue Dec 12th, 2017 at 09:18:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The DUP underpins and is effectively part of the UK government.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Dec 13th, 2017 at 12:37:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That much I know.
by rifek on Wed Dec 13th, 2017 at 02:45:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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