Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

Owning Brexit

by Frank Schnittger Wed Oct 20th, 2021 at 11:05:01 AM EST

A Northern Ireland newspaper, the Irish News, has published a letter critical of my letter of the 7th. October whch argued that the DUP wanted Brexit and now they must own its consequences. (Also published here in Brexit for Slow Learners).

Letters, Irish News, Octber 20th. (Third letter down)

Exhibiting an authoritarian mindset

In the aftermath of the EU referendum in 2016, two groups emerged on the losing side of the debate. There were those who voted `remain' but accepted the result of the ballot must be respected and acted upon. There are also those who voted `remain' but continue to undermine the democratic process.

Frank Schnittger's letter (October 7) is firmly within the latter camp. It exhibits an authoritarian mindset, ill at ease with democracy, and seeks to discredit those who supported withdrawing from the European Union. Mr Schnittger invokes the Good Friday Agreement yet appears to miss the part which states, quite clearly, that Northern Ireland remains part of the United Kingdom constitution. Rather predictably, Mr Schnittger seeks to apportion blame for the Northern Ireland Protocol at the DUP insisting "this is the Brexit they voted for" and "they must own the consequences". The question on the ballot paper in 2016 asked if the United Kingdom should remain part of the European Union. So long as Northern Ireland continues to be governed by the institutions of the European Union then the result of the referendum has not been implemented.

The Withdrawal Agreement was agreed and ratified by those involved in the negotiations but so too was the Anglo-Irish Treaty. As former Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan points out, changes were made to the Treaty at the request of nationalism in the years following its ratification. Does Mr Schnittger think it is unreasonable for unionism to seek the same regarding the Northern Ireland Protocol?

Belfast BT7

I seem to have struck a nerve. My draft response, [update] just published (second letter down) is below the fold...

Resorting to insults over Brexit

GERALD GRAHAM (Letters, October 20) accuses me of having an authoritarian mindset for having the temerity to suggest that the DUP must own the consequences of Brexit, as it is they who continued to campaign for a particularly hard form of Brexit even after a large majority in Northern Ireland had voted against. (My letter of October 7th.)

Most of his letter consists of random insults which bear no relationship to what I actually wrote or believe, but his central point is that in voting for Brexit in 2016, the UK voted to sever all ties with the EU in all respects.

This is just plain rubbish. At the time of the referendum all sorts of different forms of Brexit where being discussed from a "Norway option", to a "Switzerland option", to remaining within the Single Market or Customs Union.

Indeed, Theresa May's subsequent proposals included remaining within the Single Market and would have required no Protocol or customs border "down the Irish Sea", or within Ireland, for that matter.

It was the DUP's insistence on trying to reinforce the land border within Ireland by the addition of customs controls which resulted in their voting against Theresa May's proposals .

Boris Johnson, with DUP support, subsequently negotiated the Withdrawal Agreement which contains the Protocol and won an overwhelming mandate and majority from the British people for his rather excellent "oven ready deal".

It is thus Mr. GRAHAM who exhibits "an authoritarian mindset" for rejecting the decision of the British people on how Brexit should be implemented.

Of course, it is open to any party to a Treaty to seek to have it amended, post ratification, which is why the EU and UK are currently conducting discussions to see if any easements can be jointly agreed.

However, both parties have to agree for any changes to be implemented, and it is against international law for any one party to unilaterally fail to implement what was agreed. Even triggering Article 16 of the Protocol allows the other party to retaliate proportionately, and there are fears that this could lead to a UK EU trade war.

Mr.  GRAHAM only appears to believe in acting lawfully when it suits him and insulting others when the facts don't support his case.

Her Majesty and the Irish Sea Border

She had been due to arrive in Hillsborough, County Down, on Wednesday where she was scheduled to meet locals including schoolchildren after the village was officially named Royal Hillsborough. It is the first village or town in Northern Ireland to be granted royal status.

She was also due to attend a church service in Armagh on Thursday to mark the centenary of Northern Ireland's formation.

Political leaders wished her well following the cancellation. The Northern Ireland secretary, Brandon Lewis tweeted: "Wishing Her Majesty the Queen all the very best as she takes a few days' rest. I look forward to meeting her in Northern Ireland in the future."

Church leaders expressed their sorrow after learning she would not be coming to Northern Ireland.

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Wed Oct 20th, 2021 at 02:10:22 PM EST
It may be a diplomatic illness on the Queen's part. There has been a lot of controversy over President Higgins' decision not to attend, as he felt an Irish President shouldn't be taking part in a commemoration of partition. It would be like asking a SA President to attend a commemoration of Apartheid. See Manufactured outrage.

Boris has decided to attend it as he sees it as a celebration of the greatest union ever - underlining the political nature of the event, and the Queen has a sensitivity to such issues that her government often lacks...

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Oct 20th, 2021 at 05:55:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
stuff like this  is what Charles is  supposed to be doing

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Oct 20th, 2021 at 07:04:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, what is Charles doing these days, and shouldn't he be representing the queen when she is indisposed? Or is the absence of a Royal intended to send a message?

Mind you, at 72, he would be justified in just retiring. The Queen obviously doesn't want him to succeed her.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Oct 20th, 2021 at 07:28:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
He's pretending to be Irish
"Go gcastar ar a chéile arís muid.

"Go dté sibh slán.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed Oct 20th, 2021 at 07:58:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
He's probably as Irish as he is Welsh!

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Oct 20th, 2021 at 08:03:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank, that guy is full of it!
With you 100%. I don't always agree with you but that was a partisan hatchet job he did.
by StillInTheWilderness on Wed Oct 20th, 2021 at 05:29:26 PM EST
I hope you got it out of your system with the first draft. Now drop paragraph 2. You can't accuse him of personal insults and then let fly with a volley of your own.

You are absolutely right. The GFA's final arbiter is the ECJ. The UK wants to pretend that that the border is a UK-only issue, but it's not. The Republic is equally involved and the official counter-party is the EU. To believe that a British High Court under the aegis of UK Home Secretaries who have made no secret of their willingness to put a thumb on the scales to get a  desired result would be a natural repository for decisions on an EU matter beggars belief.

Especially when the official guarantor of the deal is the USA who have made it very plain that no change is the desired result

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Oct 20th, 2021 at 07:11:47 PM EST
The ECJ has no role in relation to the GFA as it is not a part of EU law. Part of the problem with the GFA is how to enforce it as a reference to the ICJ in the Hague could take years and it has no means to enforce its rulings... So we are relying essentially on the political support of the US and EU to make it stick.

However the ECJ is the final arbiter on the Withdrawal Agreement and the Protocol and this is what Frost claims to want to change. I doubt he thinks there is any prospect of the EU agreeing to this, but he is just throwing sand in their eyes in the hope of gaining concessions elsewhere.

Frost claims that many trade deals have neutral arbitration agreements or courts to settle disputes, but the Protocol is part of the Withdrawal Agreement, not the Trade and Cooperation Agreement with the EU, and thus it is a political rather than trade deal.

Anyway what is Frost offering in return? Why should the EU make concessions to him, except to help solve genuine problems in N. Ireland, where no one (other than the DUP) has a problem with the ECJ.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Oct 20th, 2021 at 07:40:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Church leaders `sorry' for not doing more for peace in Northern Ireland
Event goes ahead without heads of state of either Ireland or United Kingdom

The Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh has said he is "sorry" church leaders "didn't do more to become peacemakers, or at least speak peace into the situation.

"Too often we allowed the attitudes of the societies around us which we serve us to shape us rather than the other way round," Reverend John McDowell said.

Archbishop McDowell was delivering a reflection at a church service in Armagh to mark 100 years since the partition of Ireland and the foundation of Northern Ireland.

by Bernard (bernard) on Thu Oct 21st, 2021 at 06:19:20 PM EST

Steve Bell on the missing guests at Northern Ireland's centenary - cartoon

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Fri Oct 22nd, 2021 at 12:36:00 PM EST
An excellent article...worth a read by anyone with the faintest interest in Irish history and politics.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Oct 22nd, 2021 at 02:05:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My response was published here. (Second letter down)

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Oct 26th, 2021 at 05:07:56 PM EST
Northern Ireland Protocol problems 'need to be resolved by autumn' | BBC News |

Horizon membership

He also told MPs that the EU still had not ratified the UK's associate membership of Horizon, the science funding scheme.

Lord Frost said the government was "getting quite concerned about this" and that it raised "questions of good faith".

"It was agreed at the end of last year that we would be able to participate in Horizon/Copernicus and so on and the only reason it wasn't finalised fully at the time was because the EU had not put in place its own legislation," he said.

"So we were waiting for that to happen and it has now happened and there's absolutely no reason why we shouldn't be fully part of Horizon and indeed the EU has put in place these arrangements for Norway, for Iceland and for the Ukraine."

"It obviously would be a breach of the treaty if the EU doesn't deliver on this obligation."

EU Horizon approval delays hurting British research and business

The European Scrutiny Committee Brexit Divorce Bill Report reveals that UK businesses and research institutions will face increasing opportunity costs while they are frozen out of new projects. EU approval for the UK's participation is tied to the outcome of Northern Ireland Protocol negotiations, according to EU research commissioner Mariya Gabriel. Negotiations on the operation of the Protocol began earlier this month.

In December, the European Union provisionally agreed to the UK participating in its new research programmes, notably the flagship "Horizon Europe" research fund and the Copernicus earth observation programme, in return for a proportional contribution to the programme's funding. However, the protocols in the Agreement enabling UK entities to bid for funding have yet to be approved by the EU.

European Court of Justice 'not the only NI Protocol problem'

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Tue Oct 26th, 2021 at 06:20:46 PM EST
One minor problem is that there is no "consistency" rule in politics. Anybody can say anything he or she wants at time t, and then say exactly the opposite at time t + 1. There are plenty of examples.
by asdf on Tue Oct 26th, 2021 at 11:44:27 PM EST
UK diplomat asked to `peddle half-truths' about Brexit's impact on Ireland
A former top British diplomat in Washington has accused Boris Johnson's government of damagingly downplaying the impact of Brexit on Northern Ireland's "delicate peace process" in statements intended for an American audience.

Alexandra Hall Hall, the lead Brexit envoy to the US who quit her job in late 2019 because she was unwilling to "peddle half-truths on behalf of a government I do not trust", has condemned Mr Johnson's government for being "wilfully disingenuous" in the official messages she was asked to deliver about Brexit in the US.

In a lengthy article published in a US academic journal, the former career diplomat excoriated the UK government for downplaying the cost and impact of Brexit in "public talking points" aimed at presenting the official UK government line in Washington.

"They downplayed the increased friction that was likely for businesses trading between the United Kingdom and the EU countries as well as third countries such as the United States, " wrote Ms Hall Hall in the Texas National Security Review journal.

"But, most damagingly, the talking points also downplayed the consequences of Brexit for the delicate peace process in Northern Ireland, in which the United States was a core stakeholder, having helped to broker the [Belfast] Agreement and supported it since then," she wrote.

Ms Hall Hall wrote that one colleague at the UK embassy in Washington working on Northern Ireland was "nearly in tears" as he "could not get his minister to register the enormous damage that would be done to the fabric of Northern Ireland, politically and economically, if the United Kingdom left the European Union without a deal".

"A low point for me was when I heard a senior British minister openly and offensively, in front of a US audience, dismiss the impact of a no-deal Brexit on Irish businesses as just affecting `a few farmers with turnips in the back of their trucks,' " she wrote.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Oct 27th, 2021 at 10:17:26 PM EST
More on Texas and the Irish dilemma ...

The Good Friday Agreement by James B. Steinberg - a long read.

The very vividness of the first-hand accounts of events and the colorful personalities of the central players may contribute to over-attribution of causality. Almost every major actor in the drama has, at one point in time, been "nominated" as the "indispensable" figure in making the Agreement possible, from David Trimble and John Hume, who were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, to Gerry Adams and his co-negotiator Martin McGuiness, George Mitchell, Tony Blair, Bertie Ahearn, Bill Clinton, Monica McWilliams, May Blood (of the Northern Ireland Women's Coalition), and even the shadowy MI5 agent who helped broker key talks between the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and the British government in the early 1990s.

TNSR link to article Alexandra Hall Hall

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Thu Oct 28th, 2021 at 07:08:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why didn't he just attach a copy of his TUV membership card while he was at it?
by rifek on Mon Nov 1st, 2021 at 02:51:51 PM EST

Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]