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John Bull in a China Shop

by Frank Schnittger Wed Jul 10th, 2019 at 12:09:18 AM EST

I do so tire of Brexiteers claiming that the referendum result gives them the right to do more or less as they please and that anyone who objects to their proposals is acting undemocratically. However I get especially annoyed when Irish writers claim that respect for democracy requires us to indulge Brexiteers every whim and cast aside our own national interests. It's not all about the UK you know...


Hence my Letter published by the Irish Times. Sentences in [brackets] were included in my draft but edited out by the Irish Times.

A chara, - Simon O'Connor (Letters, July 9th) decries the development of the European Union and claims that this is being done without "the democratic consent of the people of Europe".


Are these the same people who have just elected the European Parliament, and who have elected 28 national governments, all of which are represented on the European Council, and who ratified the Lisbon treaty in accordance with the constitutional requirements of their own countries?

[It seems Mr. O'Connor knows better, and we should all have followed his dictates instead.]

He then goes on to praise Brexit as a democratic rejection of "a United States of Europe" and castigates letter writer A Leavy (July 8th) for calling it "a declaration of economic war on European countries".

But no one is disputing the right of the UK to leave the EU "in accordance with the requirements its own [unwritten] constitution", and its obligation under article 50 to negotiate a withdrawal agreement with the EU.

It should be noted that the British representative, Lord Kerr, was instrumental in the drafting of that article, and that referendums are not binding on the Westminster parliament under the UK constitution, whereas international treaties are.

What the UK chooses to do is ultimately its own business. However, it is also clear that a "no deal" UK departure would be extremely damaging to the EU and to the economic and political wellbeing of Ireland in particular.

Are we not therefore entitled to seek to protect and pursue our own national interests as well?

It seems Mr O'Connor is willing to grant the UK not only the right to leave the European Union, but to do so without regard to the multiple mutually agreed obligations it has incurred over the years, including the Belfast Agreement, the EU Blue Skies Agreement, the rights of EU citizens within the UK, and various security, trade and customs agreements.

No doubt he will then blame the EU for the creation of an EU/UK border within Ireland and the massive disruption of employment, trade and travel that could result.

[John Donne wrote "No man is an island entire of itself; every man/is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; /if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less... " ]

We don't have a problem with John Bull doing his own thing, but we do have a duty to try to protect our own national interests from a bull in the china shop run amok. - Yours, etc,

FRANK SCHNITTGER

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Bad metaphor

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed Jul 10th, 2019 at 07:03:53 AM EST
I worry about you looking at such stuff... No dis-respect to bulls, but are you implying that Brexiteers have been skill-full, balanced, elegant, nimble and well coordinated in their actions to date? I am simply using their own language against them; don't blame me for the English language!

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jul 10th, 2019 at 10:19:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
U.K. Seeks Brexit Concessions, Saying Dublin Has the Most to Lose
Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay held talks in Brussels on Tuesday with Ireland's European commissioner, as the Irish government said the current Brexit deal was the only viable way to avoid a hard border with Northern Ireland, and hinted that a no-deal exit risked installing new border infrastructure on the island -- something it wants to avoid.

"The EU also recognizes that no-deal is in neither side's interest, that no-deal particularly, if one looks at the asymmetric impact across Europe, particularly impacts Ireland," Barclay told reporters in Brussels. "The impact of no-deal is greater to the Irish economy than it is to the U.K. so the EU wants to avoid no-deal just as the U.K. wants to avoid no-deal."

Brexit hardliners have long argued that Ireland will be so scared of the damage a no-deal exit would do to the Irish economy that it will tell the EU to back down on the most controversial part of the withdrawal agreement -- the so-called Irish border backstop. The measure is unpopular in the U.K. because it would keep the U.K. tied to EU trading rules indefinitely unless another solution is found.

Both candidates to replace Theresa May as British prime minister say they want to renegotiate the deal, but the EU and the Irish government have ruled this out.
"A no-deal outcome would be very damaging for Ireland," said Barclay, who held talks with Irish EU commissioner Phil Hogan and Michel Barnier, the bloc's chief Brexit negotiator. Lines of traffic stuck at British ports "will not just be queues with U.K. goods in, they will also be queues with 40% of Irish exports in."

The Irish government remains in discussions with the European Commission in the hope of minimizing the negative consequences of no-deal, it said on Tuesday. But any arrangement will clearly be "sub-optimal" and there are no plans for checks at or near the border, the government said.



Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jul 10th, 2019 at 03:07:01 PM EST
That's strange.
"early detection centre"
"71pc citing that they are sufficiently prepared for Brexit"
hmm ...

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Wed Jul 10th, 2019 at 06:27:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In terms of the ratio of both exports and imports to GDP, Ireland is more exposed to Brexit even than the UK. Unless we consider all the UK's trade with third countries facilitated by EU trade agreements.

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 Thu Jul 11th, 2019 at 09:38:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, and given that a lot of Ireland's exports are food and agricultural products, subject to the highest WTO tariffs, and produced in the more economically vulnerable rural parts of the country, the political and economic impact will be more magnified still.

But don't forget that less than 100 years ago Ireland fought an economic war with the UK, with devastating economic consequences, and persisted because it prized it's political independence even more highly. Ireland's trade dependence on the UK has already reduced from 70% of all trade at EU accession in 1973 to about 14% now and Brexit will accelerate that trend.

So while a no deal Brexit will be extremely disruptive, to an extent it is only accelerating pre-existing policies and trends, and slowing down an economy which is at risk of over-heating now. Don't underestimate the risk of both sides digging in on this, with a virtual trade war the result. If I could, I'd be buying Aldi and Lidl shares right now (and selling TESCO) on the assumption that their supply chains are less UK dependent.

Boris may be successfully riding a wave of English nationalism at the moment, but he should think carefully about arousing an Irish one. Ireland is the only EU country where the UK still has a significant trading surplus, and it's economy is no longer the UK dependent minnow it once was.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jul 11th, 2019 at 10:58:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not saying Ireland should or would roll over for the UK? Just that it will suffer.

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 Thu Jul 11th, 2019 at 11:06:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We are agreed on that, but where I think we may disagree is the extent to which this is now outside our control. For instance, I have just posted this comment on an Irish Times article written by a Fine Gael hack who regularly floats trial balloons for the government:
Dublin must be open to a last-minute compromise on backstop
I think we all may be labouring under something of a delusion here - including my esteemed fellow blogger, Finfacts, with whom I almost never disagree. The backstop may have begun life as an Irish invention, to protect the GFA, but it has long since morphed into an EU determination to protect the Customs Union and Single Market (CUSM) and to prevent the UK using the Irish border issue as a lever to gain access to the CUSM free of charge and without having to respect the EU four freedoms and still be able to negotiate its own trade deals.

We couldn't back down on the backstop now, even if we wanted to, because it has become an issue of principle for the EU, and because the EU has come to the conclusion that a no deal Brexit would hurt the UK far more than the EU, and that therefore the EU's negotiation position post Brexit will be even stronger than it has been to date. A few months of severely curtailed trade, no EU landing rights for UK airlines (incl. Aer Lingus), food and medicine shortages in the UK, threats of Scottish secession and violence on the streets and the UK will come back begging for a deal, any deal.

Yes, Ireland will be badly hit too, and the EU will be extremely sympathetic and helpful to reduce the worst effects, including turning a blind eye to rampant smuggling across the border because the volumes will be immaterial in a larger CUSM context. The large import/exporters across the land border - Tesco, Guinness, Dunnes Stores etc. will be strictly monitored on site to ensure compliance in the same way as VAT compliance is audited, and this will gradually be extended to smaller businesses, but private individuals and small traders bringing a boot load of stuff across the border is immaterial in the larger scheme of things. It is preferable to war.



Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jul 11th, 2019 at 11:57:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Brexit hardliners have long argued that Ireland will be so scared of the damage a no-deal exit would do to the Irish economy that it will tell the EU to back down on the most controversial part of the withdrawal agreement -- the so-called Irish border backstop. The measure is unpopular in the U.K. because it would keep the U.K. tied to EU trading rules indefinitely unless another solution is found."

Isn't the whole point of "the backstop" that it is only to be a backstop and only to be used in the virtually impossible and, actually, unimaginable case that some other solution to divided Ireland is not found? In other words, if half as much energy had been spend on finding that other magical solution, then the backstop would already be a moot point.

Maybe everybody in the UK will be so overjoyed to have BoJo in office that they will be able to throw the DUP overboard, cast NI adrift, let Ireland unite, and then follow their own English path back to the 1950s.

by asdf on Thu Jul 11th, 2019 at 07:08:06 PM EST
well, that last paragraph is everybody's best guess right now. Nobody likes the DUP, they pissed away any sympathy they might have had in Westminster last year.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Jul 11th, 2019 at 07:48:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Which is why the House of Commons just passed legislation legalising same sex marriage and abortion in NI over their dead bodies - if the NI assembly and Executive aren't back up and running by October, which they won't be. Effectively the HOC has sided with Sinn Fein on these issues - who'd have thunk?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jul 11th, 2019 at 10:17:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Four out of five chieftains are workin' on it.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Thu Jul 11th, 2019 at 10:28:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Having a customs border "down the Irish sea" merely means that existing checks at ports and airports for animal welfare, disease control and a number of other things are augmented by checks for compliance to Single Market standards and any tariffs which may apply.

As  a practical matter everyone recognises this is far simpler to do than to try to stop traffic at 300 official and unofficial border crossings along the 500k land border between Ireland and N. Ireland. In many instances the same road weaves across the border several times.

For the avoidance of doubt, this need have absolutely nothing to do with a "united Ireland" except in the fevered imaginations of paranoid loyalists and ideological imperialists many of whom wouldn't know "a technological solution" to customs controls if they met one despite the fact they continually claim this would solve the Irish land border problem...

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jul 12th, 2019 at 11:44:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Loyalist have been sitting pretty by ruling NI for their own benefit for hundreds of years, wrapped in privilege.  They're losing both power and privilege and they don't like it.  The UVF, et. al., are not going to accept anything that even remotely looks like unification.  As they have recently demonstrated:

Belfast council backs down on Twelfth bonfire after UVF threats.

I note, with cynicism, the UVF disarmed in 2009 so it's a complete mystery what a " severe violent confrontation" would entail.

The UVF, et. al., have received help in the form of logistics and intelligence from various members - and bureaus? - of the UK military and intelligence services for decades.  IMHO, anyone who thinks this isn't continuing is a fool.  

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

by ATinNM on Fri Jul 12th, 2019 at 05:09:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There has been a lot of scuttlebutt about a marked increase in illegal imports of weapons in the last 5 years. So far, these have not been accompanied by an increase in armed crime (teenage knife crime doesn't count), so the view has been that these are being held by far right terrorist groups in anticipation of civil strife around brexit.

these people regard the UVF as brothers in arms, so I'm quite sure there has been substantial flow of weapons that way.

Fact is, just as it's undeniable that MI5 were an enthusiastic partner of the UDA/UVF during the period of the Troubles because UK plc had a vested interest in maintaining ownership of significant military industrial assets in Belfast, now that these have closed, UK plc is no longer the lsightest bit interested in supporting these embarrassing historic remnants.

MI5's phones will not be answered when the UDA ring.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Jul 12th, 2019 at 07:30:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A feasible response to the bondfire: send in a helicopter with a load of orange fire suppressant foam.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Jul 12th, 2019 at 11:48:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
These people's idea of a technological solution is a magic wand.  Which actually explains so many things.
by rifek on Fri Jul 12th, 2019 at 11:35:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Bank of England warns no-deal Brexit could trigger economic shock
Governor says EU firms might also face lending crisis by being cut off from banks in London

Banks in the Eurozone might not be so accommodating as the BoE. But why should they be for lending for UK businesses?


"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Jul 12th, 2019 at 03:59:31 AM EST
I think the subtext is: the EU can't manage without access to London's financial sector expertise, because their own banks aren't "up to snuff"...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jul 12th, 2019 at 11:29:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]


Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Fri Jul 12th, 2019 at 02:07:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
what they mean is that the EU banks, with the exception of Deutche (remember them?), were far less likely to accomodate easy access to Crown dependency tax havens.

without the UK, the average level of honesty in bank trading will increase substantially.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Jul 12th, 2019 at 07:16:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
< wipes tears >

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Fri Jul 12th, 2019 at 07:59:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So the disconnect from reality has reached the BoE.

At a rough guess there's a minimum of $40 trillion of cash and cash equivalent floating around the world.  I'm sure some of that can filter it's way into the EU.


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

by ATinNM on Fri Jul 12th, 2019 at 05:11:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Charting the Bank of England's Balance Sheet Since 1844

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Sat Jul 13th, 2019 at 03:38:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]

by Bernard on Thu Jul 18th, 2019 at 06:31:04 PM EST
he's a disgusting human being and the UK has soiled itself with this shambolic lying government. We don't deserve to be in such a group of civilised nations

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Jul 18th, 2019 at 07:39:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think our nukes are the only things keeping the rest of the world from ejecting the US and UK from the planet on an intercept course with the Sun.
by rifek on Thu Jul 18th, 2019 at 07:51:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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