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Our Land - Brexit and a Separation Agreement

by Oui Wed Nov 7th, 2018 at 02:32:54 PM EST

More below the fold ...

Brexit Diaries 48: Abandon all hope | DW |

As diplomats have long feared, the problem turned out to be the most intractable of all Brexit issues. The EU had proposed that Northern Ireland stay close to its regulations, so there would be no need for border controls. The Unionist DUP, who support May's Conservatives in Parliament, howled with fury because the party could never ever accept a regulatory diversion from all-British rules. After many rounds of talks the two sides seemed to have found another possible solution. This would be to keep the entire UK in a customs union until the two sides had settled their future relationship.

What seemed reasonable has, however, now become impossible. At a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, May was forced to declare she would not close a Brexit deal "at any cost." Clearly the cost is too high for her Brexiteers, who want at best a time limited customs union, or to be able to leave it at any time. No can do, says Dublin, because an insurance policy for our border with a time limit would not be worth the paper it's written on. We're starting from square one again.

No new cabinet meeting has been scheduled. Ministers will come together again only after what the PM calls "the best deal for Britain" has been reached. The continued stalemate scuppers May's plan to get a deal done this week. That's needed to call an EU summit for the end of November and push the whole thing through Parliament before Christmas. As the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, likes to say: "The clock is ticking."

Secret talks are going on in Brussels. But they now appear ever more similar to Dante's inferno: Abandon all hope ye who enter here...

Britain's arrogant attempts to hoodwink the EU have sacrificed all trust | The Guardian - Opinion |

When Ireland's foreign minister, Simon Coveney, tweeted on Sunday that Britain's calls for a time-limited or unilaterally breakable backstop "are not backstops at all and don't deliver on previous UK commitments", he echoed the frustration across the EU. The concern is not that the UK holds a different opinion, it is that it is reneging on the guarantees it has already made. As the negotiators brace themselves for a lock-in at the last-chance saloon, the underlying problem is less about the backstop than the EU's chronic lack of trust.

There is a reason why Britain is being dragged kicking and screaming from the backstop to the withdrawal agreement. Since the start of this process, our government has confirmed every European fear and British stereotype. The UK has sought to divide and rule, bypassing the European commission and playing member states off against one another; ceaselessly demanded unique privileges unavailable to either members or non-members; and continued to insist upon fantasy technology at the Irish border to prevent the return of all-too-real sectarian violence.

Our long reputation has always preceded us but, immediately after the referendum, the EU held out genuine hope that the government might behave reasonably. Certainly, Britain's official narrative centred around building goodwill and demonstrating good faith. But, in reality, Theresa May quickly compounded tactical errors with pointless offence. The 2016 "citizens of nowhere" conference speech horrified EU diplomats, who also objected to the threatening tone of the Lancaster House speech and Article 50 letter. In May 2017, the prime minister even accused "bureaucrats of Brussels" of meddling in the UK election. Boris Johnson's rhetoric about punishment beatings and whistling for money, and Jeremy Hunt's likening of the bloc to a Soviet prison did little to help.

The EU expected domestic Tory theatre, but ministers' hostile language has also bled into personal relationships.

In full: The notes of apparent plan to sell Brexit deal | BBC News |

The BBC has seen a suggested detailed timetable of how the Government might try to sell a Brexit deal to the public and parliament.

The notes passed to the BBC give a step-by-step timeline including a speech from the Prime Minister at the CBI conference later this month where it's suggested she would say: ''We have delivered on the referendum."

Lining up lots of former foreign secs to come out in support and Mark Littlewood of the IEA.

26th - theme is taking back control of our laws, Raab doing media. PM interview with Dimbleby.

27th - morning theme is agri and fisheries. Gove doing a visit and media.

Evening is the vote.


Rightwing UK thinktank 'offered ministerial access' to potential US donors

Related reading ...

Health groups dismayed by news 'big tobacco' funded rightwing thinktanks | The Guardian - June 2013 |
US groups raise millions to support rightwing UK thinktanks | The Guardian - 2018 |

The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), the Adam Smith Institute, Policy Exchange and the Legatum Institute have all received financial support from US backers via this route.

Khodorkovsky - The Interpreter - Henry Jackson Society (UK)

Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.

by Oui on Wed Nov 7th, 2018 at 08:36:03 PM EST
As I've posted elsewhere, "The item I keep wondering about is the Assembly.  Either solution, dry border or wet border, would be a Constitutional amendment for NI.  My read is that requires some action by the Assembly.  How does that happen when the Assembly is nonexistent and will remain so in any meaningful timeframe?"
by rifek on Thu Nov 8th, 2018 at 12:45:00 AM EST
The UK Government have the power to impose direct rule on N. Ireland should they so wish, and especially if the devolved institutions aren't working. In fact this is the preferred option for many Unionists, as it emphasizes their "Britishness" and bypasses the institutions set up under the Good Friday Agreement, about which they have, at best, ambivalent feelings, and at worst, outright hostility.

The Irish government have always opposed this option, as it effectively denies nationalists any say in how N. Ireland is governed. It would be especially controversial now that the UK government has abandoned all pretense of impartiality, and explicitly aligned itself with the DUP.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Nov 8th, 2018 at 01:40:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, but it was my understanding a constitutional settlement change could not be effected by Direct Rule, and both the wet border and the dry border would be a constitutional settlement change.
by rifek on Fri Nov 9th, 2018 at 05:50:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
May's plan to give Stormont a backstop veto enrages EU envoys | The Guardian - Sept. 24, 2018 |

DUP would reject 'hybrid Brexit backstop' | BBC News - 4 Oct. |

Both the UK and the EU agree that a backstop position is needed to avoid a hard border in Ireland in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg has said UK officials are understood to be working on plans for a "hybrid backstop" that combines light-touch regulatory checks and the temporary extension of the customs union to the whole of the UK in the event that a free trade deal has not been completed.

It has also been suggested the UK government is considering making any new backstop subject to democratic oversight by the Northern Ireland Assembly, which has not met for more than 600 days.

The joint report agreed by the UK and the EU in December 2017 left open the possibility of the assembly agreeing "distinct arrangements... appropriate for Northern Ireland" in the future.

Brexit: Sinn Féin and SDLP reject Stormont backstop role

The bottom line in Brussels is that May's Hybrid Backstop doesn't work for Scotland or the UK
Foster regards no-deal Brexit as `likeliest outcome', Observer reports
How to resolve Irish border issue in a no deal Brexit

[Dr. Andrew Lilico is executive director of the consultancy Europe Economics, and lead economist for Leave campaign]

Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.

by Oui on Thu Nov 8th, 2018 at 09:22:13 AM EST
See also Frank Schnittger's comment in earlier diary ...

Does the DUP really believe it can obstruct Brexit, Stormont and Westminster indefinitely?

Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.

by Oui on Thu Nov 8th, 2018 at 09:26:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No-deal Brexit plan 'will include new border in Irish Sea' | The Scotsman |

In the letter, obtained by The Times, Mrs May said: "I am clear that I could not accept there being any circumstances or conditions in which that `backstop to the backstop', which would break up the UK customs territory, could come in to force."

But the DUP has interpreted the wording of her letter to mean that the measure will be contained in the Brexit divorce deal despite Mrs May's insistence it will never come into effect. Mrs Foster said: "The Prime Minister's letter raises alarm bells for those who value the integrity of our precious union and for those who want a proper Brexit for the whole of the UK. "It appears the Prime Minister is wedded to the idea of a border down the Irish Sea with Northern Ireland in the EU single market regulatory regime."

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Mrs May's effective deputy prime minister David Lidington and Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley will attend a summit on the Isle of Man on Friday. Brexit is expected to dominate the agenda of the British Irish Council, which also involves the first ministers of Scotland and Wales, Nicola Sturgeon and Carwyn Jones.

A senior UK Government source said that reports in the European media that a deal could come in the next few days should be taken "with a very large pinch of salt".

A potential sticking point could be demands for EU fishing fleets to be given continued access to British coastal waters as the price for agreeing to Mrs May's UK-wide backstop, the Daily Telegraph reported.

A UK-wide customs deal would maintain quota-free and tariff-free access to European markets for the British fishing industry and in return the EU wants to keep continued access to UK waters for its trawlers, the newspaper said.

Brexit: EU fishing row threatens to snag May's customs union plan | The Guardian - Nov. 1, 2018
'Scallop war': French and British fishermen skirmish over shellfish | France24 - Aug. 22, 2018 |
Irish fishermen face a perfect storm as charts are redrawn for Brexit

Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.

by Oui on Fri Nov 9th, 2018 at 11:40:24 AM EST
strong rumours that the DUP were briefed about this as much as a week ago and that this negative response is just choreographed sound and fury, signifying nothing.

As the cost of DUP support so far has been £1 billion and a "let's forget about the Renewable Heat scandal", I suspect that a very juicy bone is being shipped to Belfast.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Nov 9th, 2018 at 08:22:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.
by Oui on Sat Nov 10th, 2018 at 05:39:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]

UK minister Jo Johnson quits over 'terrible' Brexit plan | DW |

Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.

by Oui on Fri Nov 9th, 2018 at 06:23:47 PM EST
DUP fury but ministers hopeful Brexit deal with get through Parliament | The Irish Times |

At the British-Irish Council summit in the Isle of Man, Mr Lidington said: "The prime minister has always been very clear we won't accept something that involves carving out Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK."

He said a UK-EU deal would involve "compromises, give and take on all sides" but when faced with "product on the table" in the form of an agreement backed by all 28 governments there could be a shift in attitude at Westminster.

"People will need to ask themselves what is it that is going to be in the best interests of those who sent them to Westminster to represent them, to ensure that we maintain living standards and investment and prosperity and employment in our country.

"I hope and I believe that we can secure that majority in Parliament for the agreement."

Mr Varadkar, who was also at the Isle of Man summit, said "it is more likely than not that we will be able to conclude an agreement" in the coming weeks but "lots of things can go wrong" - including having to get a deal through Westminster and the European Parliament.

"Even when all of that is done, then we begin the talks on the future relationship," he added.

"There is no clean break here, Brexit is going to go on for a very long time."

Speaking at the British-Irish Council meeting, Secretary of State Karen Bradley told the Press Association: "The negotiating teams are working hard to get a good deal that can be taken to the British Parliament.

"If we've got an agreement, with the UK (government) recommending the deal as a good deal for the whole UK, and the 27 members of the EU also accepting the deal, I think that's the point at which people need to come together, vote for that deal and let's get on with delivering on the wish of the British people to leave the EU."

Brexit deal not dead despite DUP warning, says Lidington | The Guardian |
Irish sea border splits PM May's cabinet: Raab furious with Lidington's soft approach >> the Sun

Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.

by Oui on Sat Nov 10th, 2018 at 06:22:09 AM EST

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