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A Cold House

by Frank Schnittger Sun Jul 14th, 2019 at 12:25:00 PM EST

Cliff Taylor has written a rather amusing spoof despatch from a British Diplomat in Dublin back to his seniors in Whitehall - no doubt modelled on Sir Kim Darroch despatches from Washington. In general it seems an accurate take on the state of "no deal" Brexit contingency planning in Ireland, but the over-riding impression is one of confusion as to what the Irish are really up to.

As usual, given my generous nature, and in the spirit of international cooperation, I have offered to fill in the gaps in his understanding in the comments below..

More amusing still would be a spoof Irish ambassadors report from London as to what a Boris administration plans to do. Something about showing the Irish a flash of cold steel as Boris tells them who's who and what's what...

But perhaps I can fill in some of the gaps in Cliff Taylor's ambassadorial report:
Firstly, the Irish will procrastinate and delay and do nothing as no deal approaches and even after it has happened. The end objective being to await the formation of a UK government no longer dependent on DUP support. That could take years, or it could take weeks, but whatever: the situation is desperate but not serious. Any inaction will be explained to all and sundry (including the Commission) on the basis that talks are ongoing, the current situation is temporary, and there is no need to spend huge money and political capital on problems that will soon go away. Churchill referred to this strategy as "Masterly inactivity". Napoleon said "never interrupt your enemy while he is busy making a mistake".

Secondly, Irish exports to the UK will remain largely unaffected as the UK has said it will not impose border controls. If controls ARE imposed at Holyhead etc., Irish exports will be re-directed via Belfast, and if necessary re-loaded and re-invoiced via NI companies to avoid inspection in Belfast. Meanwhile UK exports to Ireland will be confiscated on discovery unless done by trusted traders using on-line pre-clearance customs forms. The legendary inefficiency of the Gardaí will ensure this causes minimum inconvenience for a time, although a few seizures will be given maximum publicity to give the appearance of strict enforcement. The Irish economy will therefore be surprisingly unaffected, reducing pressure on the government to actually do anything.

No doubt there will be difficulties in obtaining planning permission for any new customs infrastructure diplomatically located some distance from the border and concerned citizens will issue High Court injunctions and Supreme Court challenges against any infrastructural developments or rules and regulations they deem in contravention of the Good Friday Agreement or the European Charter of Fundamental Rights protections on the freedom of smugglers to do as they please. The Irish Judicial system can be devilishly slow on reaching conclusions on matters of public interest...

Meanwhile the clock is ticking on the lifetime of the current UK Parliament and Boris' government, and the authorities in Calais or Rotterdam are unlikely to be anything like as accommodating to UK exports stuck in customs for want to the proper paperwork and tariffs duly paid. Ireland will follow suit at Irish ports for any UK exports trying to sneak into the EU26 via Irish ports, and unless a consignment is duly accompanied by a customs declaration by a Trusted trader, it will be subject to inspection. There may not be many British exports that have profit margins wide enough to warrant shipping via Ireland, but those that have will be targetted for special attention.

Of course, all of this will be accompanied by loud complaints in the British media to the effect that while the UK has maintained open borders, the EU most definitely has not. In vain customs experts will try to explain that under WTO "most favoured nation status" rules, the EU has no choice but to impose controls, unless it is prepared to open the floodgates for produce from all over the world on the same basis. Remarkably the Leave case for Brexit has been based on a desire for "Free Trade" by a "Global Britain" without any recognition that, absent the Single Market or a FTA, there is no such thing as free trade in the world...

All attempts by the UK to negotiate piecemeal with individual countries like Ireland on border arrangements or for special treatment for individual sectors like aviation will be met by a blank refusal by the EU to even open substantive discussions until and unless "outstanding matters" such as the £39 Billion payment, the rights of EU citizens in the UK and, yes, that cursed Irish border issue are addressed first.

David Trimble, former Unionist leader once admitted that the focus on creating a protestant state for a protestant people in N. Ireland had led to it becoming "a cold house for Irish Catholics and Nationalists". The DUP may find that, in its attempts to extricate itself from the shambles of a post No Deal Brexit, the UK will become an increasingly cold place for Northern Ireland unionists...

Either way, the Irish government will seek to wait this one out, Commission pressures to demonstrate it is enforcing all Single Market rules notwithstanding. But as Cliff Taylor asks in his rather plaintive (fake) missive to his Whitehall handlers: "But for as long as our government relies on the DUP, it [a customs border down the Irish sea] doesn't look likely to happen. Has anyone over there got any other ideas?"

Out of the woodwork ...

I'm always amazed how propagandists are invited for interviews in MSM under de disguise of a "think-tank" and the premise these agents have anything worthwhile to tell.

In a coverage about Georgia on Al Jazeera and the disputed territories of South Osetia, Abkhazia, Crimea and Eastern Ukraine, a fellow from the Henry Jackson Society of London was invited. His name ... Alan Madison. A quick Google got an immediate hit!!

Repeatedly I have written about HJS @BooMan and here @EuroTrib ...

Counterinsurgency Cyberwarfare NATO vs. Russia - Part 3
Legatum: the Brexiteers' favourite think tank. Who is behind them?

A reminder of Colman's warning many moons ago ...

Neocons sighted on the Thames

by Oui on Sun Jul 14th, 2019 at 01:43:59 PM EST
These people still can't get their heads around Ireland being an independent country and having found a new place in the world especially over the past 30 years thanks to the EU.

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 Jul 14th, 2019 at 09:41:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well we are a small country which they have "successfully" divided and conquered before. Brexiteers thought similarly about the EU - an ineffectual bureaucracy which it would be easy to divide and conquer. So it is more than a little irritating that Ireland has (in their view) successfully hidden behind the EU negotiating team, got its core national interests embedded in the EU negotiating position, and has so far avoided being winkled out and confronted with the might and power of Great Britain.

Of course "common sense" would dictate that Ireland - as the weakest link - will quickly fold when confronted by the consequences of a no deal Brexit - consequences which are possibly as severe as those facing the UK economically, and possibly even more severe politically if N. Ireland becomes unstable again.

The weakness of the Irish government's position is that a no deal Brexit would precipitate precisely the consequence the backstop was meant to avoid - a hard border with N. Ireland. Some in Ireland are already arguing that this means the backstop must be watered down in order to void a hard border.

But would the EU allow Ireland to back down now, as this would undermine the entire EU negotiating position and make it much harder to prevent the UK from achieving the benefits of CUSM membership - without any of the concomitant costs in subsequent negotiations?

If I were an EU leader speaking to Varadker now, I would be saying "we went out on a limb and backed you to the hilt, don't chicken out now and leave us all with egg on our faces". The prime EU objective is to secure the integrity of the CUSM, and not allow the UK to use the border issue to slip in by the back door and essentially gain all the benefits of membership and still control immigration, negotiate its own FTAs, and  undermine the regulatory regime which underpins it.

So my view is that, for better or worse, Ireland and the EU are stuck with the backstop, and if achieving "an orderly withdrawal" for the UK from the EU requires waiting until the DUP veto is no more, then so be it.

The really difficult negotiations with the UK have not even begun. The UK will start of the "future relationship" negotiations from the position of expecting all the benefits of the CUSM with none of the costs - certainly not Norway style contributions to the EU budget - never mentioned in UK debates about the Norway option - and freedom to trade with the rest of the world on its own terms.

Perhaps the best way of disabusing the UK of such notions is a period of Brexit with no deal, with high tariff and non-tariff barriers and no mutual recognition over landing rights, pharmaceutical standards or financial services. Then the UK will be starting off the negotiations from the same place as any third party without an FTA, not as a departing member claiming a right to the same benefits as before.

If that is the EU strategy then Ireland will need a period of "understanding" that enforcement of CUSM rules cannot be perfect and will have to be phased in over time. It remains to be seen whether that understanding will be forthcoming from the new Commission, and whether Varadker has managed to secure any private assurances on that score. The transition period in the Withdrawal Agreement would have brought us to the next UK government in all probability not dependent on the DUP. Now we may have to achieve the same goal without a formal transition period.

I wouldn't be too worried about the Irish economy in the meantime - we are near full employment and in danger of overheating now. But 50% tariffs on beef and similar exports would kill the agricultural industry and finding alternative markets will not be easy. The Mercosur deal may have to wait...

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Jul 14th, 2019 at 10:57:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This propagandist is Alan Mendoza, btw.

If we're tempted to think he's so ignorant he should shut up, we should note that he has BA, MPhil, DPhil in history from Cambridge. In other words, he's perfectly well-informed and trained enough to know that he's spouting... propaganda.

The more outrageous it is, the more clicks it gets.

Things are going to slide, slide in all directions
Won't be nothing
Nothing you can measure anymore
L. Cohen

by john_evans (john(dot)evans(dot)et(at)gmail(dot)com) on Mon Jul 15th, 2019 at 09:01:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
😊 well compensated I presume ... JHS is one horrible institution.

In Colman's diary he linked to a webpage of JHS patrons of 2005. That page can't be found, however WayBackMachine archive should have it. I will find link that explains its founding.

by Oui on Mon Jul 15th, 2019 at 09:19:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Oui on Mon Jul 15th, 2019 at 09:21:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
can't access that link...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Jul 15th, 2019 at 10:15:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was traveling, so I couldn/t embed link and a "/" became html code for italics  ...

Embedded link:

International Patrons of The Henry Jackson Society - 2005

Bruce P. Jackson
President of the Project for Transitional Democracies

Robert Kagan
Senior Associate, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

William Kristol
Editor, The Weekly Standard

Vytautas Landsbergis
Former President of Lithuania

Michael McFaul
Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution; Senior Advisor, National Democratic Institute

Joshua Muravchik
Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute

Richard Perle
Former American Assistant Secretary of Defence

General Jack Sheehan
Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, Atlantic

James Woolsey
Former Director of the CIA

by Oui on Mon Jul 15th, 2019 at 11:26:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Bruce P. Jackson (Wikipedia)

Post-Communist Europe Relations

A long-time proponent of NATO expansion, Jackson was instrumental in securing U.S. Senate ratification of Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary as members of NATO and organizing the second "Vilnius Round" of NATO expansion which brought the Baltic States, Slovakia, Slovenia, Romania and Bulgaria into both NATO and the European Union. Since 2002, he has been active in the Balkans and post-Soviet democracies advocating democratic reform and EU accession.

Loosely translated: a Neocon a$$hole

by Oui on Mon Jul 15th, 2019 at 11:33:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Quite a rogues' gallery.  In a just world, they'd all be in The Hague for crimes against humanity.
by rifek on Thu Jul 18th, 2019 at 07:55:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And Senator from Boeing.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Jul 19th, 2019 at 03:52:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Although Scoop inherited that title from Maggie.
by rifek on Fri Jul 19th, 2019 at 06:37:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The answer is a resounding NO, unless you count the magical technical wizardry of "alternative solutions" as a real answer...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Jul 14th, 2019 at 05:15:00 PM EST
British hopes of fresh Brexit deal shot down in Brussels
British hopes that a change in European Union leadership may lead to a willingness to renegotiate the Brexit deal with a new Conservative leader have been firmly shot down in Brussels.

UK leadership contenders Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt have expressed confidence in election hustings that they can reopen talks on the deal and specifically the contentious "backstop" to avoid a hard Irish border.

However, European Commission president-designate Ursula von der Leyen has, speaking to MEPs and journalists over recent days, reiterated her strong support for the deal and backstop as "absolutely necessary."

Sources close to the German defence minister, who faces a ratification vote in the European Parliament on Tuesday to lead the EU's executive, say although she would have liked Britain to remain in the EU, she considers the proposed EU-UK withdrawal agreement a good deal "that we need to stick to without any question".


DUP chief whip Jeffrey Donaldson said his pro-Brexit party would "look at whatever proposals the Irish Government puts forward" to avoid a hard border with checks at ports, but they will be judged against the party's "very clear red lines" objecting to any border in the Irish Sea.

There will be no public proposals from the Irish government. It isn't even a direct party to the negotiations. And neither is the DUP. Any "border down the Irish sea" will have to be proposed by the UK government, if at all, as neither Ireland nor the EU will have any jurisdiction over what happens between Belfast and Liverpool. As ever, it is for the UK government to decide how that situation will be managed.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Jul 14th, 2019 at 11:31:33 PM EST
Unlike Winston Churchill writing himself into the history books ...

Theresa May's state of politics speech - Snap verdict

Near the end ...

Q: Have you left the country and your party in a better or worse state?  

A: ... She says the Tory party has rising membership.

[Most likely Brexiteers in recent months to throw her under the bus and vote for Boris - Oui]

FDR in 1943 on that "shithole" British colonial empire - "That Hell-hole Of Yours".

by Oui on Thu Jul 18th, 2019 at 07:47:39 AM EST

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