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Between a Rock and a Hard Place

by Frank Schnittger Fri Jun 10th, 2022 at 10:01:48 AM EST

Boris Johnson is reported to be delaying the publication of the Bill to over-ride parts of the protocol until such time as the DUP agree to the election of a Speaker in the Assembly. The DUP is refusing to proceed until they see the contents of the Bill and ensure that it directly over-rides the Protocol and doesn't merely give the power to Ministers to do so at some stage of their choosing.

No doubt a compromise will be worked out in due course, with the DUP given a preview of the legislation and agreeing the election of a speaker more or less simultaneously with the publication of the Bill. Both Johnson and the DUP will then claim a great success for Britain, for the Good Friday Agreement, and for democracy.

The fact that any Bill explicitly over-riding the UK's treaty obligations and international law has little chance of ever receiving Royal Assent is neither here nor there. Face will have been saved and time bought. Boris will have kept his ERC hard-liners on board, and Donaldson will claim to be making progress on dis-applying the Protocol.  Both live to fight another day.

But will it all have been cost free? How will the EU react? Will it institute some sanctions now, or wait to see if the Bill actually becomes law? More uncertainty will hardly promote more investment in the N. Ireland economy. The EU will also hardly negotiate under duress and threat of illegal action. What is the point of negotiating any agreement if it can simply be over-written by domestic legislation at a later stage?

To a certain extent this lets the EU off the protocol hook. It now no longer has to consider difficult implementation compromises for Larne which might set precedents for Calais and give the UK an unfair advantage over all other third parties trading with the EU - against WTO rules.

But the EU, as a rules based organisation with no army to enforce its rulings, also cannot tolerate its Treaties being wantonly flouted by third parties. What then would prevent any other third party flouting its agreements with the EU?

So at least some token response might be expected. A resumption of legal action against the UK for unilaterally extending grace periods, a refusal to cooperate with the UK in a multitude of other areas, perhaps a renewed drive to reduce the EU's dependency on London based financial services companies?

The EU can afford to play a long game. The longer the Protocol remains in place and is seen to benefit the N. Ireland economy, the more difficult it will become to argue for its removal. The longer the DUP is seen to frustrate the formation of an Executive, the more middle ground they might concede to the UUP and Alliance. The longer the GFA institutions are seen not to be working, the greater the case for some radical alternative.

And for Boris Johnson, more pain awaits. Even if he survives the loss of critical by-elections, his chances of getting many of the 141 Conservative MPs who voted no-confidence in his leadership to vote for a Bill breaking international law can only diminish. And even if he overcomes that hurdle, the House of Lords can delay it by another year.

So, these latest manoeuvres aren't really about resolving some customs complexities at all. They are about digging the DUP and Boris Johnson out of holes of their own making, at considerable cost in terms of their relationship with the EU, their global reputation, and perhaps, directly, for the UK economy itself. Costs the UK economy can ill afford with inflation rising and a recession looming.

The EU also has other priorities to focus on - the war in Ukraine, inflation, the energy crisis and global warming. The NI protocol isn't even on their main agenda. Why interrupt your adversary while they are busy making even more mistakes? (Napoleon).  Unfortunately for N. Ireland, this one will run and run.

where it has already had 1520 readers and 55 comments.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jun 10th, 2022 at 05:07:25 PM EST
Extreme...ly nice Frank 😄 congrats

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Fri Jun 10th, 2022 at 06:45:09 PM EST
If I were advising the EU (and for some reason, they haven't asked me yet), I'd tell them to pass sanction triggers and contingent regulations implementing sanctions.  Basically tell the UK once and for all, "Eff about and find out.  Play stupid games, win stupid prizes."  No point worrying about riling up the Brexit Base.  They're brainwashed beyond any hope, just like the Trumptards here.
by rifek on Fri Jun 10th, 2022 at 11:41:05 PM EST
Looks like the scientific community has had about enough.
by asdf on Sat Jun 11th, 2022 at 12:00:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm assuming they're heading for the UK or an affiliated location.  No point moving here since we're already worse than the UK.  No surprise given we're run by people of the opinion that "we don't need none o' that pointy-headed larnin' stuff here", i.e. the people I went to school with.
by rifek on Sun Jun 12th, 2022 at 09:16:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I meant "heading for the EU".  This is what happens when you comment at 0300 due to insomnia.
by rifek on Sun Jun 12th, 2022 at 09:20:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yep. Same thing with the customs lines at the airport: if you don't travel outside of the country, those lines are unimportant. Same with cars, you can still drive a 1990 Vauxhall Cavalier and put two fingers up at the foreigners. Same thing with Polish plumbers; only an issue for people who hire plumbers. And nannies. Etc.
by asdf on Sun Jun 12th, 2022 at 02:39:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Masters of Politics and Always a Plan B 😁

This week the science minister, George Freeman, ... said the UK was ready to press ahead with its plan B if the dispute is not resolved.

Bargaining Chip

Freeman highlighted the possible "global collaborations" on offer if the United Kingdom leaves the EU programme, with countries including Switzerland, Israel and Japan.

However, both Switzerland and Israel are participants in Horizon Europe, and Japan has also entered talks to join Horizon, as have other nations outside the EU, including South Korea, New Zealand and Canada. "Horizon is where the party's at," says Martin Smith, head of the policy lab at Wellcome, a biomedical-research funder in London. "To try and build something independently of that will be extremely difficult."

UK allocates £6.9B of its science budget for Horizon Europe | Oct. 28, 2021 |

Britons Be Bold

As EU hangs tough on tying UK association in Horizon Europe to ending the dispute over the Northern Ireland Protocol, the UK government is dangling the funding carrot and says if there is no deal, it has a 'bold' plan B

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Sat Jun 11th, 2022 at 06:01:10 AM EST
The EU will also hardly negotiate under duress and threat of illegal action. What is the point of negotiating any agreement if it can simply be over-written by domestic legislation at a later stage?

And its not just the EU. If Westminster has this attitude to treaties with its closest partner, then there is simply no point in anybody "negotiating" with them about anything. Only fools negotiate with cheats and liars.

by IdiotSavant on Sat Jun 11th, 2022 at 11:03:09 AM EST
A suggestion for Sinn Fein: if the Johnson/DUP deal goes ahead, they could announce that they will refuse to form an executive.
With much better justification than the DUP, because it would be the road to the destruction of the Good Friday agreement.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Sun Jun 12th, 2022 at 09:07:13 AM EST
To be clear, the DUP has even refused to elect a speaker which means the newly elected Assembly can't meet. Johnson's reported deal with them will facilitate the election of a speaker, but NOT the formation of a new Executive, which would mean their ministerial representation under the d'Hondt system would be reduced to two, and they would only be able to nominate a deputy first Minister with Michelle O'Neill (SF) as First Minister.

That is their nightmare scenario and the word is they are hoping for a "win" on the Protocol to enable them to get the Secretary of State to call a new election where they would hope to emerge as the largest party and beat SF to the First Minister role.

That is an unlikely but not a totally unrealistic hope in that it was the TUV improved performance of 8% in the last election which they blame for at least some of their seat loses.

SF would certainly not refuse to nominate a First Minister as that would be a historic first for a nationalist in N. Ireland and of extreme symbolic if not practical significance.

However, if the DUP say they will allow the Assembly to meet by helping to elect a Speaker but will NOT allow the formation of an Executive then SF would be in their rights to not allow the election of a Speaker on the grounds that:

  1. Not appointing an executive frustrates the democratic decision of the N. Ireland people
  2. An Assembly without an Executive to propose and implement legislation and executive decisions is just a talking shop
  3. They would not wish to be complicit in a deal to break international law and dis-apply the Protocol, and
  4. They would like to remind Boris that it is they (and not the DUP who have always opposed the GFA) who are the GFA's true custodians and that it takes two sides to make a deal.
  5. The GFA calls on the British government to act impartially and to give "equality of esteem" to both political traditions in N. Ireland, and yet the Boris administration has shamelessly conspired with the DUP at every turn.
  6. Boris has justified his support for the DUP as necessary to "protect the GFA" and the Attorney General, Suella Braverman, a Brexiteer has provided legal cover for breaking international law by claiming that the GFA has "Primordial" significance over the Protocol - a new concept in international law. The fact is that it is Brexit, if anything, which broke the GFA, and the Protocol is just a minor mitigation of Brexit for NI. SF could blow up this whole pretence by refusing to elect a Speaker unless the DUPagree to the election of an Executive, something they probably won't agree to do. Then it will be Boris & Co. who will be seen to have broken the GFA by their partisan support for the DUP and its refusal to allow the formation of an Executive - a GFA institution.
  7. It should also be noted that the Belfast High Court found the DUP broke the law by refusing to operate the north south institutions of the GFA (and the Boris Administration has effectively mothballed the East west institutions- strand 3 of the GFA).

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Jun 12th, 2022 at 06:56:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What is the chance that BoJo's underlying goal is to get NI and the DUP off his back--and off Britain's back--by cornering them into an election that they lose? "Solve the Irish Question once and for all."
by asdf on Mon Jun 13th, 2022 at 03:07:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
He's not that forward-thinking.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Mon Jun 13th, 2022 at 02:24:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Elections don't determine the constitutional fate of N. Ireland. Only a referendum under the terms of the GFA can do that, and calling one is entirely in the gift of the UK government. Given N. Ireland currently costs the UK c. €10-15 Billion per annum, it is probably only a matter of time before some British government, in extreme financial difficulty, decides to cut that subvention. N. Ireland would completely collapse in that scenario - its GDP is only €50 Billion and its public sector c. €15 Billion.

It would obviously be very difficult for the Irish government to afford a subvention of that order, especially if there was significant loyalist unrest which hindered economic growth. Much of the Dublin establishment is actually against a united Ireland for that reason. However many independent analysts argue that the true cost of a United Ireland would be much less and could be absorbed over time as the all Ireland economy grows.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Jun 13th, 2022 at 08:07:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Mon Jun 13th, 2022 at 11:19:56 PM EST

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