Backstop, Boris Johnson, Brexit, Irish border, Northern Ireland, Scotland

Dead Cats and Sleights of Hand on #Brexit

This blogpost was written late on August 10th

Johnson in HOC

The ideological complexion of the Johnson administration makes a no-deal Brexit more and more likely and businesses need to get ready accordingly. At the very least, they need to prepare for a prolonged period of great uncertainty in the UK and in the UK’s relationship with the European Union.

The replacement of Theresa May by Boris Johnson was not just a change of personnel at the top. Nor was it just a change in the negotiating approach to Brussels with Johnson adopting a Trump-like “madman” demeanour, as he famously suggested he would, if given half a chance, at a dinner in London in 2018:

“Imagine Trump doing Brexit,” Johnson added. “He’d go in bloody hard … There’d be all sorts of breakdowns, all sorts of chaos. Everyone would think he’d gone mad. But actually you might get somewhere. It’s a very, very good thought.”

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Backstop, Boris Johnson, Brexit, Irish border, Northern Ireland

If UK plans to threaten on #Brexit, it should be a credible threat

This blogpost was written on Thursday evening July 18th, 2019

methode_times_prod_web_bin_70ba8da6-a8d5-11e9-b520-3fe5f5a3c989

Nye Bevan, the British Labour politician credited with creating the National Health Service (NHS), once said: “You don’t have to gaze into a crystal ball when you can read an open book”.

According to a report published by BuzzFeed News, Boris Johnson, who in all likelihood will be declared the new leader of the Tory Party next week, opening the door to him becoming Prime Minister, is quoted as saying at a private dinner in June 2018:

“Imagine Trump doing Brexit… I have become more and more convinced that there is method in his madness…. He’d go in bloody hard … There would be all sorts of breakdowns, there would be all sorts of chaos. Everyone would think he’d gone mad. But actually you might get somewhere. It’s a very, very good thought.”

It seems to me that Johnson thinks he can do a “Trump” with the Brexit negotiations. Go in, smash everything up, and see what happens. The EU will take fright at the chaos, throw Ireland under a bus and give Johnson what he wants.

Chris Grey calls it the “Nixon as madman” theory. Let’s describe it as the Trumpian/Nixon approach, a madman out of control. “Quick, give him what he wants before he wrecks the place”.

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Brexit, British Government, Irish border, Northern Ireland, UK Labour Party

On #Brexit, things come full circle: the former accusers now stand accused

widdecome far from fair

This blogpost was written on July 9th, 2019

At the heart of the original Eurosceptic critique of the UK’s membership of the European Union (EU) was the contention that the people of the UK had never been told the unvarnished truth about what EU membership would involve and the sovereignty they would have to sacrifice. They were “deceived” into backing membership and because they were so deceived the UK’s membership always lacked legitimacy. It was a house of cards built on a foundation of lies, Eurosceptics contended.

The original critique was, in essence, that the UK never voted to be a province of a “country called Europe”. It would be more than happy to be involved in a customs union and single market, an EFTA/EEA business arrangement, stripped of all references to a political journey ending in an “ever closer union”. Trading together as free nations, preferably without any of the “supranational” decision making that was the hallmark of the EU. Preferably under “common sense” British leadership.

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Backstop, Boris Johnson, Brexit, Irish border, Northern Ireland

For Ireland: the only good #Brexit is No-Brexit

This blogpost was written on Sunday June 2nd 2019
NI MEPs
Northern Ireland’s 3 MEPs: 2 Remainers & 1 Leaver

For Ireland, the only good Brexit is no Brexit. That goes for Ireland and for Northern Ireland (NI). Little noticed during the past week in the UK press, much less commented on, was the fact that in the European Parliament (EP) elections a majority of people in Northern Ireland voted for Remain candidates.

Of the three NI MEPs, two are now Remainers. Meanwhile in the rest of Ireland you would need a microscope to see the votes the Irexit candidates got. Calls for Ireland to follow the UK out of the EU simply have no traction.

But then, when it comes to NI, the UK behaves a bit like Boris Johnson when he was foreign secretary. Whenever his officials brought him Brexit news he didn’t want to hear he would stick his fingers in his ears and sing God Save the Queen. Or it could have been Rule Brexannia.

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Article 50, Backstop, Brexit, British Government, Customs Union, Irish border, Single Market, Theresa May

Now #Brexit shifts from omnishambles to megashambles

This blogpost was written on Thurs March 21, 2019

May

How did it come to this? Just eight days before the UK is due to leave the EU and we still do not know whether it will leave on agreed terms or leave with no deal. What a megashambles!

A megashambles is beyond an omnishambles, it is on route to being a blackhole-shambles, into which everything disappears. If that happens there is every chance that the UK, as we have known it, will never be seen again.

That would be a great pity because, leaving aside dark times past and crimes in foreign lands, in recent times the UK has given the world so much. I am of the 1960s generation. When Ireland was still a closed, introspective, Catholic-dominated country, the UK in general, and London in particular, opened windows and showed us that other lives were possible. Clothes that went beyond the drab, rock concerts in Hyde Park, the West End on a Saturday night. Magazines and writers suited to all tastes. Best of all, no church on a Sunday.

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Article 50, Backstop, Brexit, British Government, Irish border

One month to go and #brexit gameplaying goes on…

This blogpost was written on Wed Feb 27, 2019
skynews-jeremy-corbyn-keir-starmer_4435682
UK Labour’s Starmer & Corbyn in Brussels. Pic via Skynews

With each passing day it becomes clearer and clearer that far too many politicians in the UK, including the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, think Brexit is some form of game of political point scoring, with little or no thought for the immense damage to lives and livelihoods that will ensue.

On Monday of this week the leadership of the Labour Party, still reeling from the defections of nine MPs last week to the independent benches, announced that it planned to table a motion in the House of Commons calling for a different Brexit deal than the one Theresa May has agreed with Brussels. If the plans it brings forward are voted down in the Commons Labour may then call for a second referendum.

So, what are these Labour plans?

Apparently, the party wants a “future relationship” which would see the UK in “a” customs arrangement with the EU, but the UK would not actually be a member of the existing EU customs union. It would be a bespoke union between the UK and the EU. As part of this arrangement the UK would have a decision-making role when it came to future trade deals being negotiated by the EU.

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Article 50, Backstop, Brexit, British Government, Conservative Party, Irish border, Northern Ireland

There is No Good Way Forward on #Brexit

This blogpost was written on Saturday, Nov 17th, 2018

MichelBarnierDonladTuskBrexitDealDraftNov18_largeUK politicians are faced with an impossible decision. There is no point pretending otherwise or wishing it were otherwise. There is no good answer to the problems the UK has created for itself when it comes to Brexit and to its relationship with the European Union.

It all comes down to this. How can the UK government, any government and not just the current government, deliver on the Brexit promises to take back control of borders, law and money from the EU, while not damaging trade in goods and services between the UK and its biggest market? It simply can’t. There is no way to square this circle.

Imagine if, for example, Sweden decide to leave the EU. I pick Sweden because it, like the UK, is not a Eurozone member and so is not faced with the problem of untangling its currency with an EU exit. The main withdrawal issue facing Sweden would be fixing its financial obligations on departure, paying its fair share of what it agreed to as a member. Secondly, would be the rights of EU citizens living in Sweden and Swedish citizens living elsewhere in the EU. Probably not a major issue. ABBA would be welcome in Europe, anywhere, anytime.

The most important question to be resolved in the Withdrawal Agreement would be the “framework” for future economic relationship between Sweden and the EU. That “framework” would be identified and thrashed out after Sweden left the EU. No doubt, there would be a transition period because one thing we have learnt from Brexit is that it is impossible to go from being an EU member to a non-member overnight. Life is just too complex.

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