Article 50, Brexit, Referendum

How do you ‘just get on with doing it’ when no one can agree what ‘it’ is?

Ths blogpost was written on January 2nd 2019.

brexit-referendum-question

As Winston Churchill might have said, but didn’t as, in that quaint American way of describing death, he has long “passed over”, we begin 2019 with the dreary steeples of Brexit emerging once again.

What Churchill actually said in 1922 was: “The whole map of Europe has been changed… but as the deluge subsides and the waters fall short, we see the dreary steeples of Fermanagh and Tyrone emerging once again.”

He might well have been talking about the Irish backstop.

Weeks away from March 29th, when the UK is scheduled to leave the EU, and no one can yet say with any certainty what will happen. What an incredible position for a country like the UK to be in. In the face of the biggest constitutional, political, and economic change the country is going to make in over forty years it appears to be deadlocked over what it should do.

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Article 50, Backstop, Brexit, Negotiating, Theresa May

Where next on #Brexit… My Modest Proposal

This blogpost was written on Sunday, Dec 9th, 2018

BoJo

It is impossible to say what will happen in the week ahead, other than it appears that the May government has little chance of winning the Tuesday’s vote on the proposed Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.

How things play out after that it is anyone’s guess.

Much will depend on Tuesday’s numbers, particularly the government losing margin. Such is the state of things that there are even suggestions in today’s Sunday newspapers that May could delay Tuesday’s vote as she does a “Maggie May” dash to Brussels to demand changes to the deal, specifically the removal of the Irish backstop. Goodluck with that.

No matter what happens, the choice facing the UK is clear: stay in the EU or leave the EU.

Many will say that this was decided by the June 2016 referendum. Since then, however, much new information on what leaving the EU involves and the price to be paid has become available.

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Article 50, Brexit, British Government, Michel Barnier, Northern Ireland

Now Impossible to See How a UK/EU Deal on #Brexit is Doable

 This blogpost was written on Tuesday Oct 23rd, 2018

commons

After Theresa May’s statement yesterday to the House of Commons, it seems more likely than ever that we are heading for a no-deal Brexit. Fast.

May effectively repudiated Article 49, the so-called “Irish backstop”, in last December’s Joint Report from EU and UK negotiators to Europe’s political leaders. It was this report which allowed the Brexit talks to move on. The EU will not accept the UK reneging on a clear undertaking, especially as the UK is trying to leverage talks on the Irish backstop to force the pace on its future economic relationship with the EU. (For a full history of the backstop see Tony Connelly here).

Nothing destroys a negotiation more quickly than when one of the parties is seen by the other as acting in bad faith. Renege on a commitment and all trust is gone. May with her Commons statement might have seen off a simmering rebellion in the Tory party over her leadership, but at the cost of breaking faith with the EU.

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Article 50, Brexit, David Davis, Irish border, Michel Barnier, Negotiating

The #Brexit Delusions of Davis?

This article was written on April 16th 2018

DavisHaving your chief negotiator on top of their brief should be a given. Knowing all relevant facts and figures is usually helpful, as is being familiar with the procedures that are to be followed.

Having some insight into the thinking of the other party is recommended as that can stop the negotiator making rash promises that cannot be delivered.

All of this holds true, no matter what the negotiation.

It is even more true when it is a negotiation of unequals, with one side holding most, if not all, of the cards.

In such circumstances for the lead negotiator of the weaker party to unilaterally announce what is going to happen, how it is going to happen and what will be the outcome is foolhardy and unwise, to say the least. Unless there is some unknown, ulterior motive for so doing.

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Article 50, Brexit, British Government, David Davis, Irish border, Negotiating

#Brexit Illusions Are Now Meeting Reality

This post was written today, March 23, 2018

waves-breakToday, Friday, March 23, at the time of writing, the European Council of the heads of government of the (remaining) 27 Member States are expected to sign off, politically, on the details of the transition arrangement that the UK government had requested be put in place after it leaves the EU on March 29th, 2019.

The transition will run until December 31, 2020. During that time the UK will be bound by all EU laws and procedures, including new laws, and will also be subject to the jurisdiction of the European Court. But it will have no role in EU governance meaning it will not attend Council meetings, it will have no members of the European Parliament and will have no Commissioner.

Arriving in Brussels on Thursday, Mrs May said:

“I’m looking forward to talking about Brexit. We made considerable progress through the agreement on the implementation period, which will bring certainty to businesses and people.”

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Article 50, Brexit, British Government, Irish border, Northern Ireland, Theresa May

May: I Am Where I Am Because I Put Me Where I Am #Brexit

This Blogpost was written on Sat March 3rd, 2018

may snowIn the cold light of a snowy Saturday morning, UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s Mansion House speech yesterday can be read as an anguished plea to the European Union to help her out of the impossible position she has put herself in.

She knows the road she has chosen will result in the UK being economically less well off than it otherwise would have been, not to mention the loss of European and wider geopolitical influence.  But she is trapped.

Where Mrs. May finds herself is the consequence of decisions she herself has made. No one else. She now asks the EU to help her evade the consequences of those decisions by tearing up its own rules and laws, asking it to agree that the UK can be, at the same time in and out of the single market and the customs union, allowing it to pick the bits its likes and reject the bits it doesn’t.

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Brexit, British Government, Macron, Negotiating, Theresa May, UK Labour Party

#Macron says: “Be My Guest” while UK’s two main parties are gripped by #Brexit cakism

This piece was written on January 19th 2018.

_99662678_selfieWith just three words, “Be my Guest”, French President, Emmanuel Macron, on a visit to the UK this week, made it clear that the EU would not bend or break its rules to accommodate the UK in any post-Brexit deal.

“In” means in, and that means abiding by the EU’s rules. “Out” means out. And the choice was the UK’s to make. No doubt, a wry smile crossed the face of the spirit of General De Gaulle, wherever he may be.

As the Europeans see it, Brexit isn’t difficult or complicated. In fact, it is fairly straightforward. It is UK politics that are difficult and that are making Brexit hard for the UK.

We believe that the EU see Brexit as follows:

1.       Following a vote on June 23, 2016, some nine months later, in March 2017, the UK wrote to the European Union saying that it would be leaving the EU at midnight on March 29th, 2019. Continue reading

Article 50, Brussels, Michel Barnier, Negotiating, Theresa May

You Can’t Always Get What You Want #Brexit

Written on Sunday December 17, 2017

Hammond BoJoOn Friday (Dec 15), the EU Council agreed that “sufficient progress” had been made to date to allow the exit talks between the EU and the UK to be expanded to include discussions on the “framework” of the future relationship between the UK and the EU.

This BEERG Brexit Briefing argues that, just as the EU dictated terms in phase 1, it will continue to dictate terms as the process continues because both the dynamics of the process and the hard economic realities favour the EU.

Why? Because as the Dubliners of my youth would have put it: “Beggars can’t be choosers”. In EU terms, it is the UK, and not the EU, that is the “demandeur” and demandeurs “can’t always get what they want”.

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Article 50, Brexit, Brussels, Juncker, Michel Barnier, Negotiating, Theresa May

Not so Much a Marathon… More a Triathlon #Brexit

Written on Friday Dec 8th:

may junckerEarly this morning, Friday, December 8, the EU and the UK announced that they had reached terms on the three Article 50 issues which cover: the UK’s ongoing financial obligations to the EU; the rights of EU citizens in the UK; and issues relating to Ireland.

The EU Commission said that the agreement reached was sufficient to allow it to recommend to the EU Council (heads of government) next week that the talks proceed to phase 2, namely discussions on the “framework” of the UK’s future relationship with the EU.

Reading the various documents that have been released today it is hard not to come to the conclusion that the UK appears to have accepted the EU’s terms on all three issue. Outstanding payments from the UK to the EU are not conditional on any sort of future trade deal and will continue long into the future as commitments made by the EU28, of which the UK was a part, fall due. On citizens’ rights the European Court will have a role in defending the rights of EU citizens resident in the UK for eight years after Brexit, a political lifetime. On Ireland, the default position is no hard border.

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Article 50, Brexit, British Government, Irish border, Northern Ireland, Theresa May

That #Brexit Winding Road may be a Cul-de-Sac

This post was written on Monday Dec 4th, 2017.

may-tusk-junckerThere was a time, before the Internet and social media, when politicians could say very different things to very different audiences and get away with it. Not so today. To coin a phrase, what you say in Brussels is known in Belfast before you finish your sentence.

As I write this, at 18:30 Paris time, reports of what actually happened in Brussels today are still somewhat unclear. But it does appear that all parties thought a deal was done until the UK said no at the last minute. Speaking to Irish radio, the Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), Leo Varadkar said:

“The U.K. had agreed a text on the border that met our concerns … I was then contacted by [Juncker and Tusk] and confirmed Ireland agreement to that text… I am surprised and disappointed that the U.K. Govt is not in a position to agree to what was approved today”

Reports suggest that the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) said it could not support the agreed text as it appeared to split Northern Ireland economically from the rest of the UK as Northern Ireland would, to all extents and purposes, still be in the EU’s single market and customs union while the rest of the UK would not.

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