Author Topic: Various bits re Brexit and Economics  (Read 21682 times)


  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 24710
    • View Profile
Re: Various bits re Brexit and Economics
« Reply #135 on: September 24, 2019, 04:24:03 PM »

Why Boris Johnson’s ‘divide and rule’ approach to Ireland over Brexit is likely to fail

 Head-scratching: Ireland is putting up a united front on the Irish backstop question CREDIT: REX
•    Peter Foster, EUROPE EDITOR, DUBLIN
24 SEPTEMBER 2019 • 4:53AM
It is the kind of political briefing that is calculated to make the Irish political establishment bristle with indignation.
The Irish Times reported this week that British diplomats and politicians are travelling around Europe telling their counterparts that a ‘no deal’ Brexit would be “so disastrous” for Ireland that Leo Varadkar is bound to compromise on the Irish backstop.
In the latest iteration of the UK’s ‘divide and rule’ Brexit negotiation strategy, the hope is reportedly that other EU member states will turn on Ireland and ask the Irish Taoiseach to compromise to avoid ‘no deal’. That compromise would indeed be a bitter pill for the Irish leader to swallow.
In essence, Boris Johnson and the DUP have offered to create a common ‘food zone’ in Ireland, but to create a customs, regulatory and VAT zone north of the border - albeit set back from the wiggly line itself.
The British argue that this border will be rendered semi-frictionless by the use of ‘maximum facilitations’, such as computers, exemptions and trusted trader scheme and will not impinge on the peace.
The Irish government says it will not accept this proposal since it believes the resulting ‘border’ will be hugely destabilising for the island of Ireland at a time when Northern Ireland is febrile and organised crime groups with links to old paramilitary organisations are waiting in the wings.
The question, as Mr Johnson’s team in Brussels tries to negotiate this technologically advanced trade border, is whether Mr Varadkar will now be forced to change his mind?
Because despite some warm words and a parade of UK cabinet ministers through Dublin of late this month, the British proposition is very hard-nosed.
It was articulated by Steve Barclay, the Brexit Secretary, in a speech in Madrid last week: “Why risk crystallising an undesirable result this November,” he asked, “when both sides can work together – until December 2020?”
In other words,  a ‘no deal’ creates a trade border in Ireland, abruptly and chaotically at huge damage to both sides; or you abolish the backstop, as we demand, and have a 14-month transition period to work with the British to deliver that border as unobtrusively as possible.
And this despite the fact that even proponents of these so-called ‘alternative arrangements’, including Mr Johnson, accept they will not be ready by the end of 2020.
Mr Varadkar rejected this ‘trust us’ approach when he met Mr Johnson in Dublin on September 9 at joint press conference: “What we cannot do, and will not do,” he said, “is replace a legal guarantee with a promise.”
Economic pressure
So the question is whether Downing Street is right to calculate that Mr Varadkar will ‘blink’ when confronted by the threat of a ‘no deal’ and the political and economic downsides that would follow?
First the economic risks. The forecasts make grim reading, with six major studies estimating ‘no deal’ would cost Ireland some 5-7 per cent of ‘lost’ GDP over the medium to long term, and perhaps as many as 34,000 fewer jobs by the end of 2020.
Particular sectors will be hit severely, including Irish cheese makers and beef farmers, about half of whose entire product is exported to the UK
Tariffs will also drive up prices and hit retailers, many of whom are reliant on UK stockists, with prices estimated to rise by up to 3 per cent - equating to a monthly rise of household bills of around €75-€110 a month, according to estimates by Dublin’s Economic and Social Research Institute
It is undeniably a grim outlook, but among trade groups and farmers’ unions it is notable that fears of the economic fallout from a ‘no deal’ do not translate into demands from Mr Varadkar to ‘bin the backstop’.
Danny McCoy, the CEO of Ibec, the Irish equivalent of the CBI, says that Irish business understands that a trade border in Ireland of the kind that Mr Johnson is suggesting risks being massively counter-productive.
Not unlike German car manufacturers who desperately want to avoid a ‘no deal’ but not at the expense of the wider EU’s single market; Irish businesses argue that the backstop is necessary to maintain the bigger picture.
“Business isn’t knocking down government’s door on the backstop question because the North-South dimension is much wider than just business, it’s the social, cultural and political that is at stake, and which provides a stable base. That’s more important than any trade disruption,” said Mr McCoy.
Ian Talbot, the CEO of Chambers Ireland, which represents small and medium-sized businesses, makes a similar point. His members are not, he says, pushing him to lobby against the backstop.
Even in sector-specific lobby groups, like the Irish Farmers’ Association, there is clarity that Ireland needs to hold out to protect the all-island economy.
Cows stand beneath a sign for the diused Customs Office along the Irish border on November 14, 2018 in Newry, Northern Ireland CREDIT: GETTY
“IFA’s position is clear: Brexit can only go ahead on the basis of a Withdrawal Agreement,” a spokesman said. “As regards current discussions on alternative arrangements to the backstop, full regulatory and customs alignment is necessary to avoid a hard border in Ireland and to protect the integrity of the single market.”
The industry has already been hit by the fall in sterling which effectively cuts the worth of a cow by €150 a head, but the response has not been to push Mr Varadkar into dropping the backstop but rather to demand adequate compensation.
The IFA is demanding around a billion euros in compensation from Europe in order to cushion the impact of a ‘no deal’ - and is putting pressure on the Irish government ahead of next month’s budget.
 “IFA has set out clearly what is needed to prevent the sector from Armageddon,” said Joe Healy, the IFA president. “We are less than 40 days out from a potential no-deal Brexit, and the EU and the Government must commit to IFA’s package of measures, and support Ireland’s farmers”.
All of which adds up to a pretty solid wall of support for Mr Varadkar’s stance that the Irish backstop - legally binding and undiluted - is essential to protect the economic well-being of Ireland as well as the peace process.
Mr Johnson in his visit earlier this month appeared to suggest that Ireland would be much less able to cope with a ‘no deal’ than the UK.
But senior Irish government officials take umbrage at the suggestion that the UK, with its much larger economy, can simply bully Ireland into submission at a time when the economy is growing at 5 per cent a year - even a ‘no deal’ does not tip Ireland into recession.
Political pressure
And if the UK had hoped to open up political divisions in Ireland by hinting that Mr Varadkar was recklessly endangering the economy by his dogged insistence on the Irish backstop, there has been precious little evidence to date.
With Brexit perceived as an “existential threat” to Ireland if it leads to what is seen as the “economic repartition” of the island, then party political divisions have been put to one side in a way that might seem inconceivable in Westminster.
Over the last few months there have been one or two dissenting voices, but these have been ruthlessly squashed down by a cross-party understanding that on the backstop question there are no political points to be scored in undermining Mr Varadkar.
Fianna Fáil, the main opposition party that has a confidence and supply agreement with Mr Varadkar’s Fine Gael, may have chided and chivvied their opponents over preparations for a ‘no deal’, but never on the fundamental question of the need for the backstop itself.
“There is genuine agreement, because everyone sees Brexit as a threat to both peace and the economy,” says Lisa Chambers, a Fianna Fáil TD who is also the party’s Brexit spokesperson.
She echoes Mr Varadkar’s own clear hardball calculation when confronted by Mr Barclay’s threats: if the British force a ‘no deal’ it is better for Ireland to face an immediate trade border with British fingerprints on it than acquiesce in the creation of a border by 2020.
“If you crash out without a withdrawal agreement, then whenever you come back to the talks you’ll still need to address the three issues - the money, the citizens’ rights and the border - they will have to come back,” says Ms Chambers.
“Whereas if you agree to a Withdrawal Agreement that leads to a border in two years time, you take the issue off the table - the future trading relationship gets discussed and the border never gets resolved. If it is not done now, it will never be dealt with.”
Rightly or wrongly, there is an apparent understanding in Irish politics that sticking to the backstop, even to the point of a ‘no deal’, is the only way to preserve leverage against the UK.
The result is that breaking ranks to question either the backstop - or Mr Varadkar’s handling of the diplomacy that led to the backstop - is met with a synchronised closing of political ranks.
Brexit activists hold placards as they attend a demonstration by the anit-brexit campaign group "Border communities against Brexit", a road crossing the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland in Newry, Northern Ireland, on January 26, 2019. CREDIT: AFP
When Fianna Fáil TD, Timmy Dooley went on Twitter and accused Mr Varadkar of a “failure to engage in basic diplomacy” he was brutally slapped down by the party leader Micheál Martin, followed by all the main major Irish parties.
Similarly, when Lucinda Creighton, a former Europe Minister and close friend of Mr Varadkar, said a “fudge” would be better than 80,000 people losing their jobs in a no-deal Brexit scenario - the political establishment went into overdrive to squash the story.
“There is a strong element of the ‘green jersey agenda’ about the backstop,” says a senior Irish journalist who received briefings against Ms Creighton. “It really is a question of national unity above all else.”
And for Mr Varadkar who has plunged UK-Irish relations into the deep freeze by his refusal to follow the unwritten rule that Irish Taoiseach’s do not publicly clash with London, sticking to his guns on the backstop actually becomes the smart political play. 
“It won’t be a good day if it happens, but Leo Varadkar’s career does not hang on preventing a ‘no deal’,” say Eoin O'Malley, a politics specialist at Dublin City University. “The opposition might say he’s mishandled things, but he can say ‘the British will be back’ and they will have to talk about money, citizens and the border before any future deal can be done.”
Bubbling away under all this - and exacerbated by what is perceived as an overbearing Johnson administration in London - is both the reawakening of ancient historical reflexes mixed with a confidence that Ireland can shape a new future in Europe and beyond.
Noelle O Connell, the executive director of the European Movement in Ireland, has watched Irish support for the EU deepen year on year and hints that it is those old reflexes that are leading the British to miscalculate if they think Mr Varadkar will back down.
 “The opening of the Pandora’s box that is Brexit has profoundly real political, economic and social implications for the island of Ireland; perhaps an understanding of modern history is, in the context of Anglo-Irish relations, as valuable as an appreciation of classics,” she said.



  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 24710
    • View Profile
Re: Various bits re Brexit and Economics
« Reply #136 on: September 25, 2019, 09:48:50 AM »

This judgement will greatly assist Remainers in seizing control of government again
24 SEPTEMBER 2019 • 9:30PM

There can be no question but that we are now in a genuine constitutional crisis. This has been coming ever since the referendum and Parliament's refusal to act on the majority decision of the British people.
Of course the opposition are already leaping up and down claiming that the Prime Minister should resign – but this is a hollow jibe. After all, they could have done that all along simply by calling a vote of confidence in the government.
I was astonished that, when the Supreme Court made their judgement that they were acting to uphold Parliament’s rights against an over-mighty executive, they didn’t see fit to mention that Parliament could have stopped prorogation all along either by agreeing to an early election or by passing a vote of no-confidence in the Government.
Languishing over ten points behind the Conservatives in the polls with an unpopular leader and a civil war erupting within the party over Brexit, Labour MPs wanted to avoid an election aided by Cameron’s ill-thought-through Fixed Term Parliament Act. That the party's MPs chose, for reasons of political expediency, not to vote in favour of a general election does not undermine the point that they could have done so if they wished. Instead they left it to judges to do the work of challenging the executive for them.
As Parliament is recalled, the question is to what degree does this judgement effect Brexit? At first pass I thought not much. After all, it does not make a huge difference to the parliamentary timetable. Nor is it as if the Government was planning to do anything significant while Parliament was prorogued anyway. The number one thing on Boris Johnson's agenda, until yesterday at least, was securing a Brexit deal with the EU. There would have been plenty of time to debate any such agreement after Parliament returned.
However, it then dawned on me that by giving them more sitting time at a crucial time, this judgement greatly assists the hard-core Remainers to seize control of government again, as they have twice before. There are two things hard-core Remainers may do within the extra window of opportunity granted to them.
First they could try and legislate to either strip or further limit the Government’s prerogative power to prorogue Parliament by the beginning of next week. This would further constrain Mr Johnson in the crucial weeks ahead.
The second is to legislate for a second referendum. Oliver Letwin and others gave this game away a couple of weeks ago when they said they could keep the government in place until the summer. The only reason for that would be to buy time for a second referendum. Given the way we now know that ex-Prime Ministers and others are working to get the EU to offer a longer extension, I wouldn’t lay any money against the EU rubbing their hands and playing ball with the Remainers.
All this forms part of a wider issue which is heading at us like an express train. It is that two decisions taken by two prime ministers have utterly altered the balance of our constitutional settlement. The first was the casual creation of the Supreme Court by Tony Blair and the second was the restriction of the prerogative power to call an election through the Fixed-term Parliaments Act devised by David Cameron.
Ours is not a written Constitution but one based on common law, statutes, conventions and practice. This has never been codified, but has developed pragmatically in a balanced way. Introducing such a change without the checks and balances that exist in the US constitutional settlement through their codified separation of powers has unbalanced our constitution. For example, in the USA nominated justices have to go through hearings in congress in which past political allegiances and views are brought before congress so that they can decide on the makeup of the court. Are we now to do this and to what extent should we now set out to move to a written constitution?
I am sure there will be legal arguments about the rights and wrongs of the Supreme Court judgement. However, coming on the back of Parliament’s refusal to let the UK leave the EU, the official opposition’s refusal to agree to an election and other opposition parties now openly talking of disregarding the original referendum and revoking Article 50, it will only feed people’s growing view that the political establishment has betrayed them.
This judgement and its outcome will inevitably be seen by British people beyond Westminster through the prism of Brexit and make it more and more likely that their trust in Parliament will ebb away even faster.
Our politics is now reduced to a simple concept – Parliament versus the people. There is no doubt in my mind that Boris stands four square with the people and mustn’t be deflected from his determination to get us out by October 31.
On the other side are the hard-core Remainers of the establishment, who plan to dismiss the sovereign will of those who elect us. If they win, we all lose.
Iain Duncan-Smith is Conservative MP for Chingford and Wood Green


  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 24710
    • View Profile
Re: Various bits re Brexit and Economics
« Reply #137 on: September 25, 2019, 10:51:25 AM »

Boris Johnson’s unlawful conduct has been called to account UK Supreme Court ruling is an indictment of the abuse of executive power THE EDITORIAL BOARD Add to myFT Share on Twitter (opens new window) Share on Facebook (opens new window) Share on LinkedIn (opens new window) Share Save The editorial board YESTERDAY Print this page563 The ruling by the UK Supreme Court is a devastating indictment of the abuse of power by a prime minister — and of the holder of that office, Boris Johnson. The 11 judges unanimously concluded that Mr Johnson’s five-week suspension of parliament was an unlawful attempt to silence MPs, at the very moment the UK, through Brexit, faces the biggest shake-up in its constitutional status for decades. Mr Johnson’s claim that the suspension was a routine break before a new legislative session stands exposed. The judges found the prime minister in effect misled MPs, the British people, and the Queen. No future premier will be able to act this way again. The judges’ ruling marks a historic moment in the evolution of the UK constitution.

 The court’s decision was a much-needed reminder that, even in the most testing political circumstances, Britain remains a representative democracy underpinned by the rule of law. MPs are elected to exercise their good judgment and take decisions on behalf of constituents. They hold to account a government formed from among their number. The executive is accountable to parliament, and parliament to the people. Removing parliament, even for a matter of weeks, breaks the chain of accountability. The UK system cannot allow a cabal around the prime minister to determine by itself the “will of the people” and attempt to implement it, while sidelining those whom the people elected to represent them. This is the road to tyranny. The judges issued a judgment of impeccable logic and clarity. To those, including the government and the High Court in London, that argued prorogation is a political matter and no business of the courts they delivered a resounding rejoinder. Courts have for centuries exercised supervisory jurisdiction over whether government actions are lawful. In 1611, a court held that the King — who was then the government — “hath no prerogative but that which the law of the land allows him”. The power to suspend parliament, the judges found, is limited if it conflicts with parliament’s sovereign power to make laws, and the government’s accountability to parliament. Prorogation is unlawful if its effect prevents parliament from fulfilling its functions — without a very good reason. In one of the most stinging passages of their ruling, the judges found the effect of Mr Johnson’s actions on British democracy was “extreme”, and that the government had put forward no proper justification. The Supreme Court focused on effect and not, as senior Scottish judges had done, on the government’s presumed motive. Yet in delivering a unanimous judgment whose essence mirrored that of Scotland’s highest court, the judges brought together English and Scottish law. They implicitly demolished the hints from Downing Street that the Scottish judges might somehow be partisan. Since the prime minister’s advice to the Queen was unlawful and void, they ultimately concluded, prorogation was also void. Their judgment shows that the checks and balances in Britain’s unwritten constitution are working. UK Supreme Court rules against Boris Johnson - what happens next? The spectacle of the courts ruling on parliamentary matters has caused understandable discomfort. Yet the judges intervened not of their own initiative. Their involvement was prompted by the prime minister’s own cavalier actions, and by the disquiet they provoked among many members of the public — including one of Mr Johnson’s Conservative predecessors as premier.
 In truth, the Supreme Court had little choice but to rule as it did. To find otherwise would have opened a dangerous path to a future prime minister suspending parliament indefinitely, brandishing a prior ruling that such decisions were no matter for the courts. The ruling will restore some of the lustre to British democracy ground away by the chaotic handling of Brexit. This newspaper had argued that if Mr Johnson’s constitutional chicanery succeeded as intended, the UK would be poorly placed to criticise democratic shortcomings elsewhere. The Supreme Court, a fledgling institution barely 10 years old, has struck a blow for liberal democracy. When strongman leaders, even in advanced democracies, are attempting to bypass legislatures or due process, the ruling sends a powerful message. In the age of fake news and alternative realities, it is refreshing that judges saw through Downing Street’s skulduggery. Ardent Brexiters will dismiss the ruling as an “establishment” plot to thwart their determination to see the UK leave the EU at all costs. There have been disgraceful attempts to portray the judges as “enemies of the people”. This was not, however, a judgment on or against Brexit, but on the limits of executive power.

The effect is to restore parliament’s ability to ensure the 2016 referendum outcome is respected, but not through a calamitous no-deal exit. Mr Johnson’s no-deal strategy lies in tatters. Prorogation, always a high-risk gambit, has galvanised MPs to use the short time they had to bind Mr Johnson’s hands with legislation, and cost him his majority. Now this ruling leaves a stain on his character and competence. Faced with such a damning judgment, any premier with a shred of respect for British democracy and the responsibilities of his office would resign. Mr Johnson has indicated he intends to carry on. He will attempt to brazen out this setback, as he has previous episodes that raised questions over his suitability for office. The reconvened parliament should have no truck with such behaviour, and pass a vote of no confidence in the premier. It should use its right to form a caretaker government that can secure an extension to the October 31 Brexit date and organise a general election. The judges have spoken. Now the people should have their say. This is how Britain’s constitutional democracy works.


  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 24710
    • View Profile
Re: Various bits re Brexit and Economics
« Reply #138 on: September 25, 2019, 12:14:04 PM »

Here’s one way to fix Brexit’s Irish border problem The government has already conceded that some rules for Northern Ireland will be set by the EU MARTIN SANDBU

Amid the fallout from the UK Supreme Court’s landmark decision on the suspension of parliament, it is easy to forget that Boris Johnson’s first significant engagement with Brexit as prime minister was in a letter to Donald Tusk, president of the European Council. In it, he reneged on the UK’s December 2017 commitment to keep Northern Ireland aligned with the EU regulations and customs rules until other ways to avoid border infrastructure and controls could be agreed. This was formalised as the “backstop” for Northern Ireland only, later extended to an all-UK version at Britain’s behest. The commitment, undertaken in the so-called EU-UK Joint Report, had been the EU’s precondition for entering talks on long-term trade relations. By reneging, the UK went back on something the EU took in good faith. From Mr Johnson, such behaviour is hardly shocking, even if it should be. More importantly, it is counterproductive. When the UK has asked to sort out border issues after Brexit, Irish leaders are at pains to emphasise that they cannot replace a legal guarantee with a promise. Given what happened to the earlier promise, who can blame them? While not couched in these terms, the EU now insists on recommitting the UK government to the Joint Report.

That is how we should read the overture by Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, to alternatives to the backstop if “all” its objectives can be met by other means than aligning with EU rules. No such means have been identified. This reality is the same as that faced by Theresa May. So Mr Johnson’s premiership started by reverting to his predecessor’s late-2016 position only to turn into a fast-forward replay of her evolution towards a softer Brexit. The question is whether he will move far and fast enough towards EU demands in the limited time left and be able to sell the concessions this entails better than she did. By accepting the notion of a single regulatory area for agrifood, Mr Johnson and his Democratic Unionist partners have already conceded that some rules for Northern Ireland will be set by the EU. That makes extending regulatory alignment to industrial goods a simple question of scope. There is no deep reason why Britain should refuse to accept for industrial goods what it accepts for agrifood — regulatory checks on boats crossing the Irish Sea — and the prime minister now hints he may do just that. There is a problem of democracy, in that Northern Ireland will be governed by rules decided elsewhere. But this is a problem the EU is willing to ameliorate. The Joint Report explicitly provided for an economic border in the Irish Sea if Northern Ireland’s elected institutions agree.

Mrs May’s withdrawal agreement includes a Joint Committee to oversee the backstop, on which those institutions could have representatives. And models exist: non-EU countries in the single market, such as Norway, have a system for adopting EU rules that preserves formal sovereignty while protecting the single market’s integrity. Mr Johnson was therefore right to spot a “landing zone”. In substance, it looks much like where Mrs May ended up landing. (Northern Ireland will also have to stay in the EU’s value-added tax rules, but this is so technical as to escape politics.) The thorniest problem remains: customs. Mr Johnson, like Mrs May, will accept regulatory differentiation but insists on one trade regime for the whole UK. For her, this meant an all-UK tie-in with the EU customs union. For him, it means Northern Ireland out of it. The customs border this entails is why customs is shaping up to be the one outstanding obstacle to a deal. Even accepting alignment on all other things would create two borders rather than just one. The UK will not convince anyone that technology can substitute for border controls. But another rejected alternative may be worth revisiting. The “customs partnership” where the UK would have its own trade deals but enforce EU tariffs on imports destined for the single market was only ridiculed because it was unrealistic to identify which goods were headed for the EU when entering the UK customs area. But it is not quite as unrealistic to identify which goods cross into Northern Ireland and end up there or return to Great Britain.

The UK could offer to enforce EU customs rules on all goods crossing the Irish Sea, but where its own future tariffs were lower, it would rebate the difference for Northern Irish consumers — on the model of VAT refunds for travellers — or for re-exports back to Great Britain. Such tariff rebates could be managed via the tax system for individuals, so only Northern Irish residents would benefit, and via VAT tracking for re-exports. Since named individuals and firms would have to claim the rebate, fraud attempts could be detected. While convoluted, such a system is not unworkable, and it would tick a number of important boxes. It would secure the correct tariff revenue for the EU and enforce its commercial policy. It would allow the government to promise — honestly — that Northern Ireland would share the benefits of trade deals. It would keep the Irish land border open. The question for the UK government is not whether to concede but how to defend its concessions. A politically sellable customs solution is at the crux of whether it delivers a broken Brexit or an orderly one.


  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 24710
    • View Profile
Re: Various bits re Brexit and Economics
« Reply #139 on: September 30, 2019, 04:58:26 PM »

Donald Trump and Boris Johnson have weaponised the will of the people The ‘by any means necessary’ approach is fuelling an Anglo-American democratic crisis GIDEON RACHMAN

“By any means necessary” is the slogan used in 10 Downing Street to describe UK prime minister Boris Johnson’s approach to Brexit. The same phrase encapsulates Donald Trump’s approach to re-election in 2020. The consequences of this attitude to government became clear last week, as rule-of-law crises broke out on both sides of the Atlantic. In the UK, the Supreme Court ruled 11-0 that the Johnson administration had acted unlawfully in suspending parliament. On the same day, an impeachment inquiry began against the US president, prompted by a whistleblower’s claim that Mr Trump pressured the government of Ukraine to dig up dirt on his political opponents.
These concurrent crises are more than a coincidence. They are signs that the laws and conventions that underpin liberal democracy are under attack in both the UK and the US, two countries that have long regarded themselves as democratic role models for the world. In normal times, a British or American government would have responded to the legal blows dealt to them last week with caution, restraint — and even contrition. But those days are gone. Instead, the Trump and Johnson camps are whipping up their supporters to believe that their legal problems are an act of revenge by political enemies intent on thwarting the will of the people. Mr Johnson has combined a pro forma acceptance of the court ruling with a claim that the Supreme Court judges were wrong (all 11 of them). His allies continue to splutter that the court is made up of metropolitan Remainers. Questioning the independence of judges has long been part of Mr Trump’s rhetoric. During the 2016 election, he suggested that a Mexican-American judge would inevitably be biased against him because of his stance on immigration. Contempt for the rule of law is baked into the “by any means necessary” approach to politics. In the UK, the Johnson adviser who adopted the motto is Dominic Cummings, who in a rambling blog post this year expressed his frustration that, in government, “discussions are often dominated by lawyers” — and that these killjoys often deemed his bright ideas “unlawful”.

Once you have asserted that the end justifies the means, then any tactic is logically permissible. It is telling that “by any means necessary” was a slogan originally adopted politically by Malcolm X, the African-American activist of the 1960s, who was frustrated by the non-violent methods of the civil rights movement. The implied threat of violence is already part of the Trump-Johnson playbook. After MPs complained last week that the prime minister’s language was encouraging attacks on politicians, Mr Cummings’ response was that it is unsurprising people are angry and that the best way to soothe their righteous anger is to get Brexit done. Mr Trump has said that the whistleblower in the Ukraine case is “almost a spy”, and suggested he should be handled as “in the old days, when we were smart” (in other words, executed). In the past, Mr Trump has encouraged crowds at his rallies to rough up protesters. The political arguments made by both the Johnson and Trump administrations use the language of democracy, but the underlying logic has more in common with populist authoritarianism. For Mr Johnson, the narrow Brexit referendum victory of 2016 trumps all the other constraints that operate in a democratic society, including the law, the truth and the will of parliament and its elected representatives. Mr Trump has even less regard for the idea that democracy comes with checks and balances. His sense of himself as the tribune of the people is fed by his own ego and the devotion of his supporters. He once said that he could shoot somebody on New York’s Fifth Avenue, without losing votes. When leaders such as Mr Johnson and Mr Trump claim a direct mandate from the people, then the other institutions of a democratic society can be treated with contempt, and even threatened with violent retribution at the hands of the people. America has been moving down this populist-authoritarian road ever since Mr Trump entered politics. Britain lagged behind for some time, under the more conventional and honourable leadership of Theresa May. But a cornered and unscrupulous Mr Johnson has now imported Trumpian politics to the UK. All is far from lost. The decisions of the UK Supreme Court and the House of Representatives last week demonstrated that, in Britain and America, the law remains a formidable restraint on leaders with authoritarian instincts. But this is just one stage in the battle. The Johnson-Cummings strategy is to get to an election and then fight it on a “people against the establishment” ticket. Mr Trump will wage a similar campaign in 2020.

Facing divided, radicalised and unconvincing political opponents, the Trump-Johnson strategy could yet triumph. That strategy, it should now be clear, involves contempt for the rule of law, the trashing of national institutions, fostering an atmosphere of violence and deliberately widening bitter divisions within the country. Until recently, Britain and America could serve as genuine inspirations to liberals around the world, showcasing what a law-governed democratic system should look like. The degeneration of liberal democracy in its Anglo-American heartlands will, sadly, have a global impact.


  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 24710
    • View Profile
Re: Various bits re Brexit and Economics
« Reply #140 on: October 02, 2019, 02:01:22 PM »
Boris Johnson's bold plan to bin the backstop will be doomed without a domestic mandate
Follow 2 OCTOBER 2019 • 1:40PM

The Irish Government and the EU are also unlikely to come on board so long as they continue to believe that the Benn Act may prevail, writes David Shiels CREDIT: BRIAN LAWLESS /PA
The Government’s plan for replacing the backstop is a bold attempt to seize the initiative in the negotiations with the EU. The full text of the plan has yet to be presented to Brussels, but the outline reported by the Telegraph builds on the ideas that Boris Johnson has been talking about for some time. Until now all sides have agreed in theory that the UK could leave the Customs Union but have not confronted what this means in practice.

Looked at from first principles, the Government’s proposals involve some important compromises. The plan seeks to share the burden of checks between the land border and the sea border: ‘two borders for four years.’ In declaring that Northern Ireland should leave the EU’s Customs Union along with the rest of the UK, Johnson is honouring a commitment to the Unionists of Northern Ireland and making an important statement about the integrity of the UK. As the Prime Minister put it on Tuesday, ‘in the end a sovereign, united country must have a single customs territory.’ The hope that Johnson would readily return to the EU’s original Northern Ireland-only backstop seems to have been scotched for now.

In other respects, the package represents a significant move towards the EU’s position. In proposing regulatory alignment not only on Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) rules but also for industrial goods, the Government has accepted the need for checks between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The assumption is that the DUP would accept this, despite the party’s famous opposition to an Irish Sea border.

The other important element of the package is the consent mechanism, meaning that the Northern Ireland Assembly would have the option of deciding whether to continue regulatory alignment with the EU after four years. This addresses Johnson’s concern about the ‘anti-democratic’ nature of the backstop and ensures that local politicians in Northern Ireland would decide whether the ‘two borders’ arrangement would continue beyond 2025.

The problem here is deciding whether the Assembly would have to ‘opt in’ to alignment with the EU afterwards, and whether this could be blocked by Unionists on the grounds that it did not have cross-community consent. Ireland has already ruled out anything amounting to a ‘DUP veto’ on the future relationship, and they may question whether Northern Ireland leaving the EU’s Custom Union is consistent with the wishes of a majority of people there. The important thing is that a role for the Assembly is recognised, but this is still a matter for negotiation.

Already the plan has been received with considerable scepticism in Northern Ireland. Local business groups have expressed concern about increased regulation from the two borders approach. They favour a solution which offers frictionless trade all around, between Northern Ireland and the Republic and between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. This is something they thought they had from the backstop. Although Unionists were largely united in their opposition to the backstop, they might balk at the reality of what the Government’s alternative involves for Northern Ireland. One Ulster Unionist Party representative has described the Government’s proposal as ‘delusional.’

The Irish Government and the EU are also unlikely to come on board. The key question for Dublin is whether they are prepared to accept a deal which sees Northern Ireland outside the EU’s Customs Union. The key question for the EU is whether it is prepared to show flexibility on how and where customs checks take place. The British Government has moved in other important ways, but leaving the Customs Union is Boris Johnson’s main red line.

The chances of an agreement in October were always slim. The Irish Government takes the view that no deal is better than a bad deal, and it thinks that an Agreement without the backstop is a bad deal. The Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, repeated yesterday that while the Government may have to impose checks ‘near the border’ in a No Deal situation, he would not sign up to checks as part of a deal. This position is probably sustainable for as long as Dublin thinks that a No Deal Brexit can be avoided.

For now, Dublin seems to hope that the Benn Act will come to the rescue, and that Boris Johnson will be forced to seek an extension. Unless and until he secures a domestic mandate for his position, the Prime Minister will struggle to convince Ireland and the EU to engage with him on these terms.



  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 24710
    • View Profile
Re: Various bits re Brexit and Economics
« Reply #141 on: October 04, 2019, 07:36:32 AM »

Fintan O’Toole: Boris has destroyed what is left of UK’s credibility
British government has broken its own solemn legal and political commitments

British prime minister Boris Johnson has told MPs he has made a “genuine attempt to bridge the chasm” to strike a fresh Brexit deal with the EU with his proposals to replace the backstop.

When Boris Johnson described his long-awaited proposals for changes to the Brexit withdrawal treaty as a compromise, he was not wrong. Two questions arise, however. What is being compromised? And who is Johnson compromising with?
The answer to the second is obvious: the proposals are a compromise, not with the EU, but with the DUP. And what is being compromised is the credibility of the UK as a partner in any international negotiations.
Though the EU and the Irish government are too polite to say so directly, Johnson’s plan destroys any remaining sense that the current regime in London is capable of sticking even to its own self-declared principles.
Internal Tory politics
Ever since its victory in the referendum of June 2016, the Brexit project has been dogged by its inability to transcend its own origins. The referendum was always driven by the internal politics of the Conservative Party.
Its purpose, from the point of view of the man who called it, David Cameron, was to silence the increasingly turbulent anti-EU faction in his own party and see off the threat of Nigel Farage. And it has never been able to move on from being an internal negotiation to being an external one. The only thing that has really changed is that “internal” Tory politics came, after the 2017 election, to include the DUP.
And so here we are again. Political compromise is about two sides with different agendas meeting each other half way. It is easy to see why Johnson might be sincere in thinking he has achieved this – but only if the two sides are Johnson himself with his need to look like he is coming up with some vaguely credible alternative to the backstop and the DUP with its “blood red line” of Northern Ireland leaving the EU on exactly the same terms as the rest of the UK.
•   ‘This may be controversial in Ireland but Brexit is good for the energy storage sector’
•   Keeping Irish horse racing on track in spite of Brexit hurdle
•   Brexit delirium, the new boss of Tesco and the Irish box office king
BREXIT: The Facts
Read them here
 British prime minister Boris Johnson during a session at the House of Commons on Thursday.
This week’s proposals do indeed represent a significant shift in this internal dynamic: both Johnson and the DUP now agree that Northern Ireland may in fact leave on different terms. It may (or may not) stay effectively within the EU single market for an indefinite number of four-year periods.
To that extent, we do not have to assume that Johnson is lying and that his proposals exist only to provoke the EU to reject them. We just have to assume that he is, like Cameron and Theresa May before him, so consumed with the internal politics of Brexit that he finds it impossible to think realistically about the real negotiations.
Basic commitments
The problem, of course, is that the DUP – and its hardline supporters in the European Research Group faction of the Tories – are not Johnson’s real interlocuters on the actual process of Brexit. He is supposed to be convincing Brussels (and Dublin) that he has a better way of achieving what the backstop does, which is to guarantee that there will be no new Border-related infrastructure or checks on the island of Ireland. Instead, he has effectively resiled from the most basic commitments his government has made.
These commitments are not just rhetorical. They are legal. They are rooted in international law, which is what the Belfast Agreement is. But it is easy to forget that they are also in British law – ironically in the very act under which Brexit is supposed to be conducted.
What is ruled out is not just posts on the border but any infrastructure, any checks, and any controls that do not currently exist
Section 10(2)(b) of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 explicitly commits the UK not to “create or facilitate border arrangements between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland after exit day which feature physical infrastructure, including border posts, or checks and controls, that did not exist before exit day and are not in accordance with an agreement between the United Kingdom and the EU”.
This could not be clearer: what is ruled out is not just posts on the border but any infrastructure, any checks, and any controls that do not currently exist.
This, remember, is not just an Irish or EU demand. It has been the official British line all throughout this process. The whole backstop problem arises, not as some kind of dastardly Irish or European plot, but because Britain just can’t live up to this commitment if Northern Ireland leaves either the single market or the customs union.
Tyranny of fact
This is the tyranny of fact: there is nowhere in the world where two different customs and/or market regimes have a frontier across which trade flows without checks, controls and infrastructure. But all the energy among the Brexiteers has gone into trying to escape this inescapable reality.
Ever since May’s right-hand woman Fiona Hill issued instructions to Whitehall to “spaff some money on some geeks” they have been in search of a magical technology that make the facts on the ground disappear. And ever since it became clear that this technology does not exist, the internal project has been what Whitehall officials privately call “keeping the corpse warm”.
The corpse is now cold. Johnson’s proposals acknowledge that even if all the magical technology works, there will still be checks, controls and (implicitly) infrastructure. The British government has broken its own solemn legal and political commitments. Faced with a choice between compromising with reality and fatally comprising trust, Johnson has chosen the second option


  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 24710
    • View Profile
Re: Various bits re Brexit and Economics
« Reply #142 on: October 06, 2019, 09:02:00 AM »

 Edward Malnick, Sunday Political Editor  Christopher Hope, Chief Political Correspondent  Jamie Johnson
6 October 2019 • 6:16am
oris Johnson would veto the EU’s seven-year budget and send a Eurosceptic commissioner to Brussels to “disrupt” the bloc’s workings if he were forced into a Brexit delay, under plans being discussed by ministers.
Senior Government figures are considering a series of proposals to “sabotage” the EU’s structures if Brussels refuses to agree a new deal or let Mr Johnson deliver Brexit without one.
Two Cabinet ministers told this newspaper that they were among those backing a more “aggressive” approach towards Brussels.
It is understood that plans under discussion include blocking the EU’s 2021-27 budget, which is due to be agreed early next year, and nominating a British commissioner who would cause disruption within their portfolio.
Senior ministers discussed the prospect of sending Nigel Farage, the leader of the Brexit Party, to take up the role.
On Saturday, the move was openly advocated by Steve Baker, the former Brexit minister, who compared it to shooting “a nuclear weapon into the heart of the asteroid”.

The disclosure comes as Leo Varadkar, the Irish prime minister, insisted a delay to the UK’s exit was “better than no deal”, after the EU said that Mr Johnson’s proposals for an exit agreement did not “provide a basis for concluding an agreement”.

Brussels wants Mr Johnson to compromise further, including by offering to keep Northern Ireland in the EU customs union.
"An agreement will be very difficult to reach, but it is still possible," the EU's top negotiator Michel Barnier said on Saturday at an event organised by French newspaper Le Monde.
"We are ready for no-deal, even if we don't desire it," he said. "No-deal will never be the choice of the EU. If it happens, it would be Britain's choice."
But writing in The Telegraph as he prepares to travel to EU capitals for talks with European ministers, Steve Barclay, the Brexit Secretary, declared: “We are not backing down.”
Mr Barclay insists that Northern Ireland belongs in the UK customs area, adding: “We will not set it adrift.”
Mr Barclay pledges that the Government “will never betray the will of the 17.4 million people who voted to leave the EU”, and insists: “We don’t need more time. We need to deliver Brexit.”
Mr Barclay criticises MPs’ efforts to delay Brexit and praises those who have expressed backing for the proposals set out by Mr Johnson last week.
“As the EU leaders’ summit approaches, we need that noise to grow louder so that the EU is in no doubt that we have the mandate to get this deal across the line,” he says.
On Saturday night, David Cameron, the former prime minister, told an audience at the Cheltenham Literature Festival that the Prime Minister had a “good chance” of securing a deal.

Also writing in this newspaper, Lord Trimble, the former Northern Ireland first minister, backs Mr Johnson’s proposals, stating that they meet the requirements of the Good Friday Agreement, of which he was an architect.
He had warned that the deal agreed by Theresa May would “wreck” the peace agreement.
Downing Street has already vowed to “sabotage” a meeting of the EU Council on Oct 17 and 18 if a deal has not been agreed by that time.
Mujtaba Rahman, the managing director of Eurasia Group, a firm of analysts with close links to Brussels, said: “After the UK leaves there will need to be a constructive partnership between the EU and the UK and this is not the basis on which to start that constructive relationship.
"I just don’t think they believe he will behave in this way, they expect that is for domestic consumption.”
But since that pledge, MPs passed legislation sponsored by Hilary Benn, the Labour MP, aimed at forcing Mr Johnson to ask the EU for an extension of the Article 50 notice period if he failed to secure an agreement by Oct 19.
And in recent days ministers have been discussing ways to “ramp up” the UK’s approach to Brussels.
One Cabinet minister said: “We need to ramp it up. We need to be more aggressive.”

The Telegraph understands that senior Government figures have discussed how Mr Johnson could block the EU’s next seven-year budget, which is currently expected to be signed off in March, if the bloc has agreed to a Brexit delay as a result of the Benn Act.
When the current seven-year budget was under discussion in 2012-2013, Mr Johnson, then Mayor of London, urged Mr Cameron to invoke the approach of Margaret Thatcher to veto any increase, stating: “It is time for David Cameron to ... whirl his handbag round his head and bring it crashing to the table with the words, ‘No, non, nein’.”
The EU is expected to set a series of conditions for the UK as part of any extension – one of which would be that the country nominates a new commissioner.
The Government had previously declined to put forward a candidate to represent the UK in the new commission from next month, on the basis that the country is leaving.
Mr Johnson’s aides had already been considering vetoing an EU vote to formally reduce its number of commissioners from 28 to 27 in preparation for the UK’s departure on Oct 31.
The threat was an attempt to ensure EU leaders reject any attempt to delay Brexit. Downing Street believes the commission will not be “legally constituted” if the move is vetoed.

Now ministers are also discussing instead sending a candidate, such as Mr Farage, who would cause disruption.
On Saturday, Mr Baker, the chairman of the European Research Group of Tory MPs, told Chopper’s Brexit Podcast: “I unashamedly back Nigel Farage to be our next EU commissioner in the unfortunate event that it transpires.
“This approach is inspired by the film Armageddon. There is that moment when they are trying to save the world and so what they do is they land on the asteroid and they put a nuclear weapon into the heart of the asteroid. Nigel Farage is that nuclear weapon.”


  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 16469
  • Ballaghaderreen CO ROSCOMMON
    • View Profile
    • Roscommon County Board official website
Re: Various bits re Brexit and Economics
« Reply #143 on: October 06, 2019, 09:16:34 AM »
By Jove we'll show Johnny Foreigner who's boss!!
1 BIG CUP and 1 Cupeen so far....

Denn Forever

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5385
  • Any means neccessary
    • View Profile
    • Malcolm x
Re: Various bits re Brexit and Economics
« Reply #144 on: October 06, 2019, 11:02:35 AM »
Send Nigel.  He knows the workings of the Union (having been there a long time) and it will cut the head of the Brexit party.
I have more respect for a man
that says what he means and
means what he says...


  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 24710
    • View Profile
Re: Various bits re Brexit and Economics
« Reply #145 on: October 08, 2019, 05:06:49 PM »

It’s Boris Johnson’s Brexit or Jeremy Corbyn — there is no third way For Britain’s benighted voters, this unenviable electoral choice is the reality ROBERT SHRIMSLEY Add to myFT Heads or tails? Britain's voters must in effect choose between a hard Brexit or a government led by Jeremy Corbyn

 Robert Shrimsley

It's Brexit or Corbyn. Strip away all the what-ifs and new paradigms. As the UK and EU snowball towards one last grim Brexit gamble all sides need to recognise this fundamental choice. This is not a roulette wheel with multiple outcomes. It is a final coin toss. Heads you win; tails we lose. The EU’s likely rejection of Boris Johnson’s plan will leave the prime minister forced to delay Brexit and face an election. All sides face risks in throwing Brexit back to the voters, although the EU’s position is easiest to comprehend. Defeat for Mr Johnson means a second referendum on a deal more to Europe’s liking. A win does mean a hardline government able to exit without a deal. But, at that point, the EU can still choose to re-engage with his ideas. But the UK’s Leavers and Remainers face a contest in which one side is to lose utterly. Having finally finagled his way into Number 10, Mr Johnson could become the shortest-serving leader in British history. The polls give him hope and he has worked hard to pin the blame for any delay to his supposedly inviolate October 31 Brexit deadline on his parliamentary adversaries.  Yet Mr Johnson has two major problems. The first is that he is energising the Remain vote against him. The second is Nigel Farage’s Brexit party. Fear of them will force Mr Johnson into a more hardline campaign since he dare not let the Leave vote splinter. Mr Farage knows that if he splits the Leave vote he risks a Remain victory. Perhaps the Tories will squeeze his vote or perhaps he can take support from Labour in a way that delivers seats to the Conservatives. But he knows Remainers are praying he will stand. As the person who did more than anyone to secure Brexit, is he ready to risk being the man whose vanity kills it? His party insists it doesn’t mind splitting the vote as it is unafraid of a second referendum. “We’ll win bigger,” says chairman Richard Tice. This may be a miscalculation. The terms of that referendum would be set by a new, non-Conservative government.

No deal will not be on the ballot paper; the choice will be between Remain and a new deal that keeps the UK in a customs union and closely aligned to the single market. The vote will be extended to 16-year-olds. Even if Remain loses, this Brexit will be a long way from Mr Johnson’s. Brexiters may wail at the lack of a no-deal option and threaten a boycott. They will vow to fight on but they should be clear that the most likely outcome of a Tory defeat is the end of Brexit. No wonder the EU is ready to roll the dice. For the same reason, Remainers welcome the chance to avert Brexit. But the price is a Corbyn government, which is also why they cannot be too confident. Surely, some argue, defeat for Mr Johnson need not mean a Jeremy Corbyn premiership? The Labour leader is miles behind in the polls. His Brexit policy is incoherent. The Scottish National party will mop up in Scotland and the Liberal Democrats will make inroads in England. Labour is unlikely to win outright. The party’s best case scenario is a Labour led-coalition , in which case the smaller parties can demand a different leader as the price of power.

Perhaps. The SNP has already shown its readiness to put Mr Corbyn into power; the Welsh nationalists and Greens will follow suit. There is no reason to doubt Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson’s contempt for Mr Corbyn or her promise not to put him in power. But if the alternative is Mr Johnson, she will be forced to acquiesce, at least, to not voting down a Labour-led coalition. (While Labour could do so badly as to make Mr Corbyn vulnerable, that probably means the Tories have won). Recommended FT Podcast Boris’ big Brexit proposal and are the Tories ready for an election? This is not an argument against voting for the Lib Dems. A large Lib Dem bloc could be a vital brake on any Labour-led administration. But some realism is necessary. Unless the party hits around 25 per cent in the polls, a good election night is 50 to 70 MPs. That is not enough to be anything more than a kingmaker. This is the miserable truth. We can all play all the fantasy politics, constructing scenarios in which a different, moderate Labour leader emerges. But it is most likely to stay a fantasy. Even in the increasingly weird world of Westminster, the chances of a result that both stops Brexit and prevents a Corbyn premiership are achingly slim.  This, then, is the squeeze the two big parties will attempt. Without signs of a Lib Dem earthquake, Remain voters will be pulled to Labour, which at least offers a referendum. Stopping Brexit means defeating the Tories and, in most seats, Labour is the alternative. If they don’t want Mr Corbyn, they will have to swallow Brexit and hope a victorious Mr Johnson seeks a deal. It is hard to think of a less enviable electoral choice. But it is the choice. It is the choice for Mr Farage. It is the choice for the Lib Dems and it is the choice for Britain’s benighted voters.


  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 24710
    • View Profile
Re: Various bits re Brexit and Economics
« Reply #146 on: October 08, 2019, 05:10:27 PM »

Brexit is a journey without end for Britain No majority exists for any deal option with the EU. Brexiters are as much to blame as Remainers


In 1933, Joseph Goebbels stated that, “The modern structure of the German State is a higher form of democracy in which, by virtue of the people’s mandate, the government is exercised authoritatively while there is no possibility for parliamentary interference, to obliterate and render ineffective the execution of the nation’s will.” It is a measure of how far the UK has fallen that Boris Johnson, the prime minister, often sounds rather like this. Mr Johnson sought to prevent “parliamentary interference” in Brexit negotiations, by proroguing (or suspending) it for five crucial weeks. He dissented from the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision that this was unlawful. He has suggested he could ignore the Benn Act requiring him to seek an extension to the Article 50 deadline, should he not achieve a deal. He condemned this legislation as the “surrender act”. Worst of all, he plans to frame the next election as a battle of “people versus parliament”. How did the UK reach a position in which its prime minister regards parliament as an obstacle to be ignored? The simple answer is that it decided to insert a particularly ill-considered referendum on an exceptionally contentious subject into a parliamentary system. This created conflicting sources of legitimacy. Worse, the meaning of the option that won a small majority in that referendum was ill-defined. “Brexit means Brexit” is perhaps the silliest sentence ever uttered by a British prime minister. But it was also all that could be said. Contrary to what Brexiters insist, parliamentary involvement is not an unwarranted intrusion. Any referendum requires legislation.

This one also required negotiation and agreement. Alas, no majority exists for any option for a deal with the EU. Brexiters are as much to blame for this as Remainers. Consequently, “no deal” has emerged as the fallback position. But the Leave campaign said essentially nothing about a no-deal exit. There is no mandate for what every informed observer, including the civil service, knows would be a disruptive and costly result. It would also be just the beginning of negotiations, not their end. But those talks would occur in worse circumstances. There would be pervasive economic uncertainty. This would be a mad choice. Governments exist to help their countries, not harm them deliberately. Among the most important reasons for this outcome is the refusal, especially on the Brexit side, to try to understand the EU. They needed to comprehend that the EU is an existential project for its members, not just a trade deal. Application of European law, under the European Court of Justice, is a central part of that project. The EU, with 27 remaining members, was also sure to be an inflexible counterparty. What next? The government’s Heath Robinson-esque plan, in which Northern Ireland is to be inside the EU’s regulatory system for goods but not its customs area, will be rejected as leaky, legally unenforceable and incompatible with border-free trade in Ireland.

It also represents a rejection of the UK’s 2017 commitments on the Irish border. This is sure to have further weakened trust in Britain’s reliability. Remember, too, that the EU has long land borders. It will not allow the precedent of intentionally porous borders. Some believe this plan ought to fly with the EU. It will not. If Northern Ireland were inside the EU’s customs area, too, it could work. But, if the rest of the UK is to have its own trade and regulatory policies, this would make the Irish Sea the UK’s customs and regulatory border with the EU.
That would be unacceptable to the Democratic Unionist party and the Conservatives. It might reignite violence in Northern Ireland. So what happens if no deal can be agreed before October 31? One question is whether the EU agrees to another extension when the British government clearly does not want one. Assume that it does, but only with conditions. What might those be? One possibility would be to try to ratify Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement. That would allow the UK and the EU to move on to negotiating a new relationship. This would also mean a compromise between Brexiters and Remainers, itself highly desirable. But it seems impossible. For Remainers, it is too little; for Brexiters, it is too much. Remainers want to stay in the EU. Brexiters reject the Irish backstop that would keep the UK in the EU’s customs area and restrict its trade policy indefinitely. A second possibility is another referendum, probably on a choice between no deal and Remain. Such a vote should be legitimate since no deal played so little part in the referendum. But it would require creation of a caretaker government.


  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 24710
    • View Profile
Re: Various bits re Brexit and Economics
« Reply #147 on: October 16, 2019, 09:26:51 AM »

   Northern Ireland’s DUP faces hard choices on trust and Brexit
Boris Johnson tries to reassure parliamentary allies over EU departure plan

Boris Johnson has tried, over the course of the last 24 hours, to persuade the 10 MPs of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist party that he is not about to betray them in his increasingly frenetic search for a Brexit deal.

But the DUP, which is meant to prop up the prime minister’s government, does not trust him: the party fears that he is about to put barriers up between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK as the price for securing a Brexit deal with the EU.

“They are worried,” said one Tory MP who has spoken to the Northern Irish party.

DUP MPs feel like they have been here before. In March, Eurosceptic Conservative MPs — including Mr Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg, now leader of the House of Commons — vowed to stand with their unionist colleagues in opposing Theresa May’s Brexit deal.

Mr Rees-Mogg declared he “would not abandon the DUP” only 24 hours before doing the opposite. While the DUP voted against Mrs May’s deal, Mr Rees-Mogg and Mr Johnson supported it, viewing the withdrawal agreement then as perhaps their last chance to save Brexit.

At the time, the Twitter accounts of Ulster loyalists were awash with renditions of “Englishman’s Betrayal”, a lament about the supposed indifference of the English towards the staunchly patriotic unionist community in Northern Ireland.

On Monday and Tuesday Mr Johnson held talks in Downing Street with Arlene Foster, the DUP leader, and Nigel Dodds, her deputy, to try to reassure them that the Brexit deal he was seeking to cut in Brussels would not set Northern Ireland adrift.

The prime minister knows we will support the right deal but he also knows we will not support just any deal

Gavin Robinson, DUP MP
The prime minister needs the 10 DUP votes to pass a deal through parliament, not least because hardline Eurosceptic Conservative MPs — the self-proclaimed Spartans — insist they will stand by the Northern Irish party.

The situation is further complicated by the DUP coming under intense pressure in its own backyard ahead of a looming UK general election.

If the party was held responsible for a chaotic no-deal Brexit, Northern Irish voters would be in a vengeful mood; concede too much to Mr Johnson and a different problem arises. The rival Ulster Unionist party has accused the DUP of being “suckered” by the prime minister.

The Brexit deal taking shape in Brussels was brokered at a worryingly cosy meeting last week — from a unionist point of view — between Mr Johnson and the Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar at a hotel on the Wirral often used for wedding receptions.

Under the deal, Mr Johnson agreed Britain would no longer insist on a customs border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic after Brexit. But that implied that EU customs and regulatory checks on goods going from mainland Britain to Northern Ireland would switch to the Irish Sea.

The plan bore similarities to EU proposals last year for a so-called Northern Ireland-only backstop that was aimed at avoiding a hard Irish border, and which was rejected out of hand by Mrs May.

She said it would “undermine the UK common market and threaten the constitutional integrity of the UK by creating a customs and regulatory border down the Irish Sea, and no UK prime minister could ever agree to it”.

Mr Johnson’s proposal is different in that Northern Ireland would remain legally part of the UK customs area — and eligible to benefit from trade deals negotiated by the Britain. But Northern Ireland would de facto be inside the EU customs territory.

There would be an element of political “consent” built into the new system, possibly through Northern Ireland’s assembly at Stormont, although Mr Johnson quickly had to abandon a proposal that would have granted the DUP an effective veto over its introduction and renewal every four years.


How Boris Johnson moved to break the Brexit deadlock
As the DUP digested what was being proposed, some MPs wondered whether the system would really be any better — from the party’s point of view — than Mrs May’s Brexit deal, which it helped to defeat on three separate occasions in the Commons.

Under Mrs May’s plan, the backstop to avoid a hard Irish border was expanded to include the whole UK in a temporary customs union with the EU until a post-Brexit trade deal with the bloc was in place.

That proposal could have involved a thin regulatory border along the Irish Sea — if the EU rule book diverged from UK regulations while the backstop was in place — which the DUP said it could not accept.

If it decides to back Mr Johnson’s plan, the DUP will have to explain whether a thick customs and regulatory border between mainland Britain and Northern Ireland is a price worth paying to allow the region to benefit from UK-wide trade deals at some point in the future.

On Tuesday evening DUP officials said Mr Johnson’s proposal appeared acceptable, although they have yet to see the details.

But Gavin Robinson, the DUP MP for East Belfast, said his party would use its muscle to ensure a “sensible deal”.

“The prime minister knows we will support the right deal but he also knows we will not support just any deal,” he added.

“He knows anything which undermines the integrity of the union cannot be supported. The arithmetic of parliament means that Northern Ireland has incredible influence over whether a deal can command the confidence of the House. We will be using that leverage to get the best deal and to stand up for Northern Ireland.”


  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 24710
    • View Profile
Re: Various bits re Brexit and Economics
« Reply #148 on: October 16, 2019, 04:34:28 PM »

DUP's demand for a veto over deal brings talks to standstill as consent not customs becomes crucial issue

16 OCTOBER 2019 • 11:52AM
The DUP appears to be the greatest obstacle standing between Boris Johnson and a Brexit deal, after the party warned the Prime Minister that “gaps remain” in his proposal.
Party members were spotted re-entering Number 10 on Wednesday morning as talks intensified and the clock ticked down. The Telegraph understands that the DUP has signed up to Mr Johnson's proposals on customs, but is now wrestling with the greater issue of securing consent from Stormont on the deal.
Until the DUP is assured that it will have the power to block economic alignment with the EU via the Northern Ireland Assembly, the Brexit talks will remain in deadlock.
Here we look at the conditions that will need to be met if Mr Johnson hopes to secure a Brexit deal with the support of the DUP - and where there might be some flexibility.
DUP says EU alignment cannot be status quo for Northern Ireland
Time and again, Arlene Foster has stressed that Northern Ireland’s devolved Assembly must be allowed to approve the Brexit deal, citing the principle of consent laid out by the Good Friday Agreement.
In public, the DUP suggests this is straightforward. If nationalist and unionist communities agree to the terms, then it’s full steam ahead.
But in private, the DUP feel that the problem with the EU proposals under consideration by Boris Johnson is that they have got things the wrong way round.
The EU is offering Stormont an opt-out from economic alignment with the EU, which would become the "new normal" in Northern Ireland.
But the DUP instead wants an opt-in to close economic ties with the EU that could only take place with their full support.
This is because the majority of political parties in Stormont are opposed to a hard border with the Republic of Ireland.
The key fear for unionists is that if EU alignment became the status quo then they would not have enough representatives in the Assembly to stop it.
But therein lies another major stumbling block. Stormont has to be up and running first, but it collapsed two and a half years ago. There is currently no sign of reconciliation between its two main parties, the DUP and Sinn Fein.
At present there is little incentive for Sinn Fein to come back to the table, as a veto would allow the DUP to block the Brexit deal and trigger the emergence of a hard border in Ireland.
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson gives an interview on arrival at Stormont House, Belfast  CREDIT: AFP
The DUP is also opposed to a Northern Ireland-only referendum on the backstop, as they say this would amount to a proxy vote on a united Ireland, which would be a big win for Sinn Fein.
As a result, the only clear path to a deal is an arrangement where the DUP is able to block the backstop - which has been overwhelmingly rejected by Dublin and the EU.
Funding for Northern Ireland may grease the wheels
Despite all the talk of customs, tariffs and devolved powers in the Northern Ireland Assembly, money could play a deciding role for any Brexit deal if it is combined with a veto.
According to reports, the DUP has asked for "billions not millions" of pounds in funding for Northern Ireland as a condition of the agreement, but this is strongly denied by the party.
There could also be a multi-million euro package drawn from coffers in London, Dublin and Brussels in the offing that would mollify concerns about the economic costs of Brexit for Northern Ireland.
However, on Wednesday the DUP dismissed those reports as "categorically untrue and utter nonsense."
The DUP views Brexit as a long term issue, and its senior figures are reluctant to pocket funding that may be refused by a future government.
Northern Ireland must be “integrally within UK”
Until two weeks ago, the DUP was adamant that Northern Ireland had to leave both the EU’s single market and the customs union to ensure it could reap the same benefits of Brexit as the rest of the United Kingdom.
Then, in a big concession from a party which is not well known for meeting adversaries in the middle, Arlene Foster agreed to an all-Ireland regulatory zone that would keep the north in the EU single market for goods.
Rather than carrying out checks between north and south, goods would be inspected in the Irish sea - with the risk of trade barriers emerging between Northern Ireland and mainland Great Britain.
DUP Deputy leader Nigel Dodds and leader Arlene Foster speak to the media  CREDIT: REBECCA BLACK/PA
Mrs Foster implied this was her last gesture of compromise to secure a deal, but it is conceivable that a fudge on the customs issue may yet win her over.
Privately, the DUP has accepted that no British prime minister, not even the arch-Brexiteer Boris Johnson, is going to convince the EU to carry out checks on the land border with the Republic of Ireland.
As a result, the DUP has slightly shifted the language on the customs issue. Rather than talking about leaving the EU’s customs union, it now wants assurances that Northern Ireland “remains in the UK customs union”. 
In practice, this means that goods entering Northern Ireland should pay a tariff set by the UK, rather than the EU’s common external tariff.
British tariffs for goods that stay in Northern Ireland
This could be achieved by a “dual lanes” system where some goods are charged different tariffs depending on whether they are heading to the EU via the Republic or staying in Northern Ireland.
Under the terms of a free trade deal, tariffs on goods moving between the EU and UK would be eliminated anyway.
But in the event that the UK adopted a lower tariff than the EU on products from a third country, and a business could prove its product would be consumed in Northern Ireland, then it would benefit from the lower UK tariff.
As one EU diplomatic source puts it, Northern Ireland would be “de facto in the EU regulatory sphere but de jure in the UK customs zone.”
In other words, Northern Ireland would pay British tariffs for goods destined to stay in the UK.
Tellingly, Mrs Foster did not rule out this possibility when she did a round of broadcast interviews on Tuesday night. It may yet be the key to agreement on customs.
Blocking abortion reforms may help - but it’s unlikely to work
Earlier this year, the House of Commons passed a law on same sex marriage and abortion rights in Northern Ireland that infuriated the DUP.
It states that, unless Northern Ireland’s devolved government is restored by October 21, same sex marriage will be legalised in Northern Ireland and its tough abortion laws will be relaxed.
This is a political nightmare for the DUP, which is pro-choice and firmly believes marriage is between a man and a woman.
It is already braced for a backlash from supporters in the business world over its tough stance on Brexit, as many support the backstop.
But a second backlash from socially conservative voters, who would blame the DUP for letting in abortions and same sex marriages by the back door, may cause severe problems at the ballot box.
There is already speculation that two DUP seats held by Emma Little Pengelly and Nigel Dodds, could be up for grabs in the next general election.
If the DUP and Sinn Fein did return to power-sharing and then managed to dodge the reforms drawn up by MPs in Westminster, then it would reduce the political temperature at home for Mrs Foster. 
But, again, this is unlikely. The Telegraph understands that Sinn Fein feels the opportunity to humiliate the DUP is irresistible, despite the major Brexit implications at stake.
And there is precious little time - the deadline is this Monday.
DUP MP Ian Paisley speaks in the House of Commons CREDIT: PA
Are splits emerging in the DUP?
In Belfast, rumours swirl that the DUP is divided on whether it should back Boris Johnson’s deal.
Sources say that hardliners in the party feel Mrs Foster has already given too much ground by agreeing to an all-Ireland zone and that the DUP needs to regain some face. A handful are even content with the risk of a hard border.
But others have calculated that if the DUP humiliates Mr Johnson at this crucial juncture then they are likely to lose all their bargaining power in the next general election.
If the Tories win a strong majority then they would no longer have to rely on the DUP for support.
It may well be that this apparent split in the party’s thinking is the true source of its reluctance to go along with the deal, rather than quibbles about the EU common external tariff.
After all, a cynic might argue that the DUP has already traded away Northern Ireland’s constitutional status as an integral part of the UK by agreeing in principle to economic alignment with the EU.
One thing is for sure - with a general election looming, this week may be the DUP’s last chance to exert its influence over Westminster.
And if it chooses to sink Boris Johnson’s compromise, then it could end up with an even less favourable Brexit deal under a strong Tory government or - in a result that would make unionists shiver - Jeremy Corbyn.


  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6476
  • Catching the world in my headlights of justice
    • View Profile
Re: Various bits re Brexit and Economics
« Reply #149 on: October 16, 2019, 06:08:11 PM »
Excellent as always, the David McWilliams podcast here is predicting the end of the UK if they go through with Brexit.