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Brexit referendum and negotiations 2016-19

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    In rejecting this EU deal the DUP has sold Northern Ireland down the river

    So to the legions of experts required to make any sense of Northern Ireland we may now need to add lexicographers or semioticians. Where does the line, the border as it were, blur between regulatory “non-divergence” and “convergence” and “alignment”?The EU-UK draft agreement that was on the table on Monday, suggests that, in all but name, Northern Ireland would have remained a part of the EU. Achieving the UK government’s agreement on this was a truly momentous achievement for Irish prime minister Leo Varadker, derided by the Brexiter ultras as being naive and out of his depth. This has been an international-relations baptism of fire, it is true, but he has come through unscathed. That the British government withdrew its own proposal was, to borrow a phrase once used by the former taoiseach Charles Haughey, “grotesque, unbelievable, bizarre, and unprecedented”. It is now unclear that it will be back on the table, which is a pity as it had the great merit of ambiguity. But the proposal also throws up as many questions as it answers – nothing new in the context of either Northern Ireland or the EU’s dealings with crises.

    The relative economic history of the two parts of Ireland has itself two parts. In the first, lasting to the mid-20th century, investment and productivity went north. At partition in 1921, the situation was glaring. Northern Ireland had the industry and an outward orientation. Ireland was predominantly agricultural, and significantly poorer, with an economic policy that moved towards greater levels of autarky in the 1920s and 30s. The contrast since the 1950s is vast. The Irish economy now dwarfs that of the North; it is vastly more export-oriented, even allowing for the over-representation of multinational corporations. In terms of productivity, Northern Ireland lags behind the UK, which itself tends to lag behind the EU, while Ireland is significantly more productive. Belfast is a pleasant, if somewhat provincial, city while Dublin is a vibrant, booming European capital.

    The proposed deal has significant issues, however. There is a general consensus in economics that any region trades more with regions geographically close than with regions afar. A small market next door is as valuable or more valuable than a large one far away. This is the iron law of economic gravity. Note that culture mitigates this – distance is both geographical and psychic. The outcome of this is that the UK trades as much with Ireland as it does with India and China combined. For Northern Ireland this means that it should trade with both Ireland and with the rest of the UK. And it does. But a report from the Economic and Social Research Institute in 2009 compiled for Intertrade Ireland shows that the existence of the border has been massively damaging to possible trade. Their modelling suggests that north-south trade should be up to 80% higher and south-north trade should be up to 75% greater than currently. In general borders deter trade.

    Any move that reduces the border should then result in increased trade flows. This would be a win-win.
    A problem, however, emerges when we consider where the EU regulatory and customs border exists. If it does not exist at the present Ireland-UK border then it must be at the Northern Ireland border with the rest of the UK, the Irish sea. The only way in which this would not happen is if there was no regulatory divergence between the EU (now including Northern Ireland) and the rest of the UK. A core argument for Brexit, however, was to allow the UK as a whole (or, now, in large part) to make its own rules, to drive its own regulations for good or ill. So we cannot have a situation where a lower level of regulations on goods or services in one part is allowed to give a competitive advantage in trade with the other.
    Imagine those chlorinated American chickens – if the UK allows them in and the EU refuses, then there must be customs and regulatory checks between Britain and Northern Ireland to prevent these foul fowl seeping into the EU supply chain.

    But that is both economically and constitutionally problematic. Economically, while the Northern Ireland traders are realigning southward, they will face non-tariff barriers for their trade with Britain increasing costs. So there is a short-term hit for Northern Ireland business, whether it’s a hard, soft or scrambled Brexit. Constitutionally, a major anomaly is that one part of a single state is treated in a preferential way. It is understandable that the unionists would balk at these problems. That they would have the best of both worlds – economically part of the EU and constitutionally part of the UK – may not be enough to overcome these concerns. But they should. A hard border would, without doubt, be a calamity for the Northern Ireland economy.

    That the DUP would wish to foist this on their constituents and on the majority of the population of Northern Ireland who voted to remain in the EU is, to most people, quite bewildering. A poorer Northern Ireland, which will be the case from a hard Brexit, can only bring the day of a constitutionally united Ireland closer. In rejecting this modest proposal the DUP has sacrificed long-term constitutional and economic order on the dark altar of political expediency, and not for the first time.
    Tis but a scratch.

    Comment


      If NI is in the customs union will the UK be free to negotiate trade deals?


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      Comment


        Originally posted by Daithi View Post
        And what about also not showing up to work in Westminster hey !?

        SF are good for SFA. They are free loading, trouble making, dangerous hurlers on the ditch, who don't even show up for work in the bodies and parliaments they seek selection for.

        They are useless!!

        They're mandated not to show up at Westminster by their electorate. We might not like it, but that's an undeniable fact and is the nature of their mandate.


        They're also broadly recognised as very effective community representatives.

        You may not like them, but you're attacking them for doing something that their voters voted for.
        "We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven into an age of unreason if we dig deep into our history and remember we are not descended from fearful men" Edward R Murrow

        "Little by little, we have been brought into the present condition in which we are able neither to tolerate the evils from which we suffer, nor the remedies we need to cure them." - Livy


        "I think that progress has been made by two flames that have always been burning in the human heart. The flame of anger against injustice and the flame of hope that you can build a better world" - Tony Benn

        Comment


          Originally posted by busby View Post
          That may be so, but it really doesn't merit anything like the same approach to an enclave on another Island with a violent history which most Britons have limited or no connection to.

          Pretty much every major urban area in England voted to remain yet the Country voted strongly to leave. London is no different to Brighton in that regard. It would also be totally unacceptable to Europe to give England's main financial engine a free pass, and rightly so.
          That's not how it's constitutionally recognised in the UK, though.

          Khan is piling the pressure on the govt for concessions, which is his job in representing the interests of his voters.

          The EU would be quite right to deny special privileges for London. That doesn't mean Khan's not right to ask for them.

          London generates 30% of the UKs taxes. What Bristolians think doesn't matter in quite the same way.
          "We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven into an age of unreason if we dig deep into our history and remember we are not descended from fearful men" Edward R Murrow

          "Little by little, we have been brought into the present condition in which we are able neither to tolerate the evils from which we suffer, nor the remedies we need to cure them." - Livy


          "I think that progress has been made by two flames that have always been burning in the human heart. The flame of anger against injustice and the flame of hope that you can build a better world" - Tony Benn

          Comment


            What chance of a second vote? The DUP has practically shot everyone in the room and themselves and now the whole situation is a mess. There really seems very few options that doesn't leave political and economical turmoil in one of the three negotiators.
            He's a guy who gets up at six o'clock in the morning regardless of what time it is.

            Comment


              I wonder whether that £1bn is still on the table - IIRC, only the first £40m of that has been requested thus far, and not even delivered as yet. If the DUP aren't holding up their "supply" end of the deal, why shouldn't Theresa reciprocate?
              Tis but a scratch.

              Comment


                I cannpt see where all the fuss is comeing from. The DUP were the only party in NI to back Brexit in the referendum. They acted as a conduit for "dark money", the origin of which remains unknown and which is currently the subject of an electoral commission investigation. This money was all spent on advertising in newspapers only available in a few English cities areas and under an assumed name – the DUP wasn't mentioned.

                The DUP has opposed the GFA.

                It seems fairly obvious to me that the DUP has, from the beginning, backed the most extreme form of Brexit and is instinctively hostile to the Irish Republic, as well as to almost half the citizens in Northern Ireland. The DUP's policy is to maintain a position of privilege and political dominance for a section of the Northern Ireland population, to maintain and where ossible exacerbate antagonism between the communities of NI and to deepen and widen the border.

                And they will damn their country, their government and their people to hell to achieve their aims.

                So when I saw the leaked document, I assumed like most people that May was going to throw them under a bus, NOT that they had signed off on it.
                Munster – Champions of Europe 2006, 2008, 2020.

                Comment


                  All sources indicate that the DUP were well aware of the broad contents of the document.

                  As per ever other thing in Norn Iron, the devil is in the detail. When they became aware of the actual content, they blew a fuse.

                  Anything which could even be remotely construed as Norn Iron being less British is not going to pass muster with the DUP.

                  Long term you have to wonder what moderate unionists will make of their decision.
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                  Comment


                    The only text DUP would appear to agree on is one that allows NO as the definitive reply. With this in mind legislators should get working on their drafts and double negatives to ensure agreement.

                    The fact that Scotland Wales and London wanted a slice of the action shows how economically favourable this deal was for NI...the best of both worlds.

                    I would be interested to read how northern posters see this as to an outsider why is the media not jumping on the fact that NI voted to remain and the DUP are not representing the democratic decision of their region.
                    Last edited by Rebel Yell; 5th-December-2017, 18:27.

                    Comment


                      Originally posted by the plastic paddy View Post
                      The EEA option has always been out of bounds because the overwhelming motive for Brexit was immigration and the breakdown of the poll through the UK, and especially England meant any Brexit that allowed FOM was always going to be regarded as electoral suicide. I am sad to say that, imho, the English are considerably more xenophobic than the establishment would care to admit and Brexit is about immigration.


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                      i am not sure about xenophobic- it so far more subtle than ‘all foreigners’ or even (all of a particular colour/race, etc). I believe people wanting to come to UK, work within it, send their kids to stare schools, play football, cricket etc for the county and whatever else they might want to do that doesn’t change the status quo (aka blend in) are /have been always welcome- across society. Some groups, who want to remain apart, are there temporality for economic reasons that largely benefit themselves, etc etc are more problematical. Some in the UK make no differentiation, some do. The UK, is in my experience, more multicultural and less racist than any place I have lived (inc Australia, us) with a large number of disparate minority groups. I have experienced anti-Irish feeling here at various states, driven in part by atrocities perpetrated by people who (probably) have the same passport as I do, ignorance (largely about how politically complex and wonderful Irish people are), but rarely any deliberate/thoughtful racism. FOM is an issue, and probably more widespread than any thing we could identify as racism). I think the notion that Brexit is about racism is wrong- not even the crazies who want to stop families from the subcontinent rejoining each other ever thought Brexit would prevent (non Caucasian immigration). I think it is much more subtle- not necessarily rational or informed.

                      Comment


                        Originally posted by Daithi View Post
                        When I proposed a 'Tony Blair mark 2' type leader to emerge, I wasn't considering Blair himself, he is far too damaged as you said, I was more thinking of a David Milliband or other such type (& age) of leader to become the rescuing White Knight type leader the UK needs.

                        Your point about Boris having a Damascene conversion is an interesting one, and yes he has age & his public profile on his side, I guess, but I think he may just too much of bundling bs merchant for the UK electorate- let's see !! Interesting times!!!
                        To be honest, when labour chose Ed rather than David M they were embarinking on a particular journey, not even the most left /disenfranchised quasi socialist thought Corbin was more than a sort of genial anachronism. Remarkably, and it will be the stuff of history, what has happened is that Labour has moved more to the left than anyone in the Blair, Smith (or even Foot era) considered possible. But what people may not realise is that this leftward move has lead to a scorched earth policy with regards to centrists with a socialist leaning. The liberals are more irrelevant than they have been at any time in the last 50 odd years, it’s an incoherent and ageing smatting of basically nice people. The conservatives, as long as not too much distruction has occurred, led by Boris who has seen the light (ok yet another light) is more plausibly centrist than anything else on the horizon. This may seem madness to you- but I think it’s true.
                        Last edited by jagawayagain; 5th-December-2017, 19:44.

                        Comment


                          Originally posted by mr chips View Post
                          Every so often I've seen comments along the lines of what McWilliams has written above and thought there's a lot of assuming going on, i.e. that Catholic = someone who's gung-ho for a 32-county republic and that Protestant = diehard UK unionist. Until recently, I think those seemingly default positions were becoming more and more nuanced, but polarisation has been increasing over the past 18-24 months or so. It's bitterly disappointing to see the damage that has been done to all that societal progress here, particularly IMO by leading lights within the DUP.
                          I've always considered myself a unionist with a small u and I'd vote for a United Ireland tomorrow. Now if that's how I feel about it can you imagine how the staunch republicans are feeling these days. The DUP are poisonous.

                          My personal experience of what you say Mr.Chips. I'm from a Protestant background (Ballymena) my wife is from a RC background (North Belfast). I've always been more Irish leaning while she's been more Unionist. Funny old world. Shows you can't pigeon hole people as easily as you might think. We're both practicing Atheists btw.

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                          Comment


                            Originally posted by Jackie Brown View Post
                            I've always considered myself a unionist with a small u and I'd vote for a United Ireland tomorrow. Now if that's how I feel about it can you imagine how the staunch republicans are feeling these days. The DUP are poisonous.

                            My personal experience of what you say Mr.Chips. I'm from a Protestant background (Ballymena) my wife is from a RC background (North Belfast). I've always been more Irish leaning while she's been more Unionist. Funny old world. Shows you can't pigeon hole people as easily as you might think. We're both practicing Atheists btw.

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                            As a republican with a small r, I'd support a united Ireland if it meant that both states were abolished and we started again from scratch.

                            Unfortunately most southerners dream about the German model, the border disappears but the Republic carries on.
                            Munster – Champions of Europe 2006, 2008, 2020.

                            Comment


                              Originally posted by Major TNT View Post
                              Absolute TOSH.
                              These non stop attempts to attack Sinn Fein purely because they are an electoral force in the south are really pathetic.
                              If anything today has shown everybody in the south and in london how impossible it is to deal with the DUP. And highlights what Sinn Fein have had to put up with for so long.
                              The conservatives and T May give the DUP a billion for their support and when its needed arlene foster and her mob sh!te all over a potential border deal that london, dublin and the eu could have worked with.

                              But yea, lets blame Sinn Fein
                              They are both a shower of counts. Shinners have hung their responsibilities in the North put to dry because that is what they are, the party of opposition. The DUP are the party of the 1800s. Together they make a fantastic turd sandwich.

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                                O doesn't take long reading the responses to @Dupleader on Twatter to see how the population feel. Certainly the younger ones. There will be a United Ireland in my lifetime, I'm sure of it, and I never thought there would be before Brexit. Arlene doesn't represent her constituents in Fermanagh who turned out to emphatically vote to remain. She doesn't represent the wider NI population either who also voted to remain.

                                If our politics weren't so polarised she'd be locked up. RHI, NAMA, Red Sky, Brexit cash, Charter NI. The list of corruption goes on and on.

                                May should be telling her and Doddsy to go fish. If they pull out of their agreement Corbyn will be PM and he's more Republican than Gerry. They have zero leverage.

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                                Commemorate Nevin Spence here -
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