Posts Tagged ‘Featured’

An activist judgment? The importance of getting the Heathrow ruling right

Despite being presented as an act of judicial chutzpah, the Court of Appeal’s ruling against the government’s planned Heathrow expansion is in fact a modest proposal, explains Veerle Heyvaert. Unlike recent cases elsewhere, it did not challenge climate policy as a whole, but instead judicially reviewed the legality of a single project. She writes that failure to represent the judgment accurately could feed into the populist narrative of courts subverting the ‘will of the people’ yet again.

On 27 February 2020, the news broke that the Court of Appeal of England and Wales had declared the government’s plan to expand Heathrow by building a third runway fatally flawed and unlawful. For many, this was an unexpected and desperately welcome reprieve at a time when we are (literally) flooded with affirmations that climate change is happening, that its impacts devastate human and wildlife communities at previously unimaginable scales, and that, notwithstanding the crisis and the occasional bout of bluster, the government’s intentions and capacity to tackle the challenge are questionable at best. Choices such as not appearing at a climate change election debate, not showing up in flood-stricken areas, not committing to maintaining health and environmental standards post-Brexit, and not showing strong leadership in the run-up to COP-26 in Glasgow, do not inspire confidence. The Heathrow decision stands as a beacon of hope in perilous times, and the desire to celebrate it as a game-changing silver bullet is deeply understandable. Yet in doing so, it is vital that we accurately represent what the judgment does and does not do. If not, we do a disservice to the Court’s carefully considered reasoning. Worse, we may cause the risk of a bullet backfiring.

In discussing Heathrow, parallels will inevitably be drawn with the Urgenda decision. In December 2019, the Dutch Supreme Court confirmed, finally and definitively, that Dutch climate change policy did not fulfil the state’s duty of care vis-à-vis the public in a way that safeguards human rights. It affirmed the lower courts’ ruling that the Dutch State should pursue a greenhouse gas emissions reduction target of at least 25% by the end 2020, instead of the pledged 19%, in order to comply with its legal obligations.

The cases do indeed display a range of similarities. They were both instances of high-profile climate litigation; they both featured a coalition of environmental NGOs and private individuals as claimants; they both had public authorities as defendants; and both sets of claimants pursued the goal of safeguarding not only their immediate, personal interests but also a broader public interest in environmental protection and mitigation of climate change.

Yet it is equally important to be aware of their differences. In Urgenda, the Dutch State was held to account for its overall, nation-wide climate change mitigation target. The Heathrow case, in contrast, is an example of project-based litigation: it does not challenge government climate policy writ large, but instead judicially reviews the legality of one major infrastructure project, namely, the decision to expand Heathrow airport as confirmed in the 2018 Airport National Policy Statement (ANPS). In fact, the NGO Plan B, a key driving force behind the Heathrow decision, had also launched judicial action challenging the legality of the government’s 2050 overall climate targets. This action, which had a much more pronounced similarity to Urgenda in terms of the substance of the complaint, was dismissed by the Court of Appeal in 2019, without allowing the case to proceed to a full hearing.

A second vital difference between Urgenda and Heathrow is that, whereas in the former the stumbling block was substantive – in that the court found that the State was not doing enough to avert dangerous climate change – the Heathrow case was won on procedural grounds. According to Section 5 of the UK Planning Act, national policy statements such as the ANPS must be appraised with reference to sustainability, must be reasoned, and must explain how the policy takes account of UK climate change policy. In the context of the Heathrow expansion, then-Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling carried out these tasks in 2018. However, he only justified the decision with reference to the UK’s climate change commitments in the 2008 Climate Change Act, and disregarded the more recent commitments which the UK had assumed under the Paris Agreement, and which the government had officially endorsed and ratified. The Court of Appeal decided that the Paris Agreement commitments, while not directly legally binding upon the government, did constitute part of government policy and, therefore, should have been taken into consideration in the ANPS development process. Not considering the full extent of the UK’s climate change policy constituted a legal flaw which vitiated the ANPS. As the Court of Appeal is at pains to explain in the concluding section of the judgment, this does not mean that a third runway at Heathrow could not be lawfully agreed upon; it simply means that any decision to that effect has to be taken after consideration of all dimensions of UK climate policy.

The point here is not to downplay the importance of yesterday’s decision or to ‘pour cold water’ on claimants’ and activists’ well-earned sense of achievement. While procedural, the requirement to account for its own climate change commitments, whether laid down in the Climate Act or in official policy statements, sets an important precedent and will undeniably make it harder for the government to shrug off environmental responsibilities. Moreover, given the current Prime Minister’s well-documented objections to Heathrow expansion (although they did not run to voting against the project), there may be little appetite to revive the project at this time.

However, if we draw parallels with Urgenda, it is even more important that we take lessons from it, and act with an awareness of the backlash that climate litigation can produce. When courts hold the executive to account for the insufficiency of its climate change actions, accusations of judicial activism are quick to follow. It is not my view that such allegations were actually justified in Urgenda, but at least there was a plausible case to be made, since Urgenda involved the court both annulling a general, long-term government target and substituting it with a more stringent one. Heathrow is far more judicially conservative, and much more deferential to executive discretion. It is, by no stretch of the imagination, an activist judgment. Yet within moments of the news breaking yesterday, social media was awash with both cries of jubilation that the Paris Agreement allegedly had saved the day and forced the government to jettison the third runway, and equally loud denouncements of a so-called runaway judiciary set to undermine democracy.

The Heathrow decision can easily become yet another source of indignation that feeds into the populist narrative of courts as elitist bastions that ride roughshod over the will of the people, a narrative which has been gathering strength since the 2017 Miller I judgment and which is now threatening to erode the rule of law and eliminate the last vestiges of executive accountability. We have little influence on how the media frame the story, but we can avoid playing into their hands. This means taking care in how we represent victories, being precise in explanations, and taking the time to correct those who either cheer or denounce as an act of judicial chutzpah what is, in fact, a modest proposal.

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About the Author

Veerle Heyvaert is Professor in the Department of Law at the LSE.

 

 

 

All articles posted on this blog give the views of the author(s), and not the position of LSE British Politics and Policy, nor of the London School of Economics and Political Science. Featured image credit: Mer Sen on Unsplash.

 

Fog in Belfast: a hundred years of uneasiness, and no end in sight

It took a long time to realise what the Brexit vote would mean for Northern Ireland, writes Duncan Morrow (Ulster University). Even now, a thickening intellectual and political fog still surrounds its future.

Give or take a Derry/Londonderry, Belfast is the most constitutionally-battered city in the United Kingdom. Storm ‘History’ – with its endless warning that the enemy will be merciless in victory, and promise that our victory will secure paradise – still blows every day along its peace walls, murals and still-isolated city centre. Some parts of the city are more open air museum than modern economy.

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The Ormeau Bridge in Belfast. Photo: Nuno Curado via a CC BY 2.0 licence

Of course, identity is everything precisely because it is so vulnerable . Ferocity is the sound of anxiety, not confidence. And fear in Belfast has too often seemed existential, and is still visible. The centenary of Northern Ireland will mark a hundred years of constant contention, with no assured victory. Yet so few minds have changed. Endless displays of exaggerated Britishness have converted no nationalists, and countless songs of freedom have won no Unionist hearts.

Instead, contention itself became the ‘golden thread’ marking Northern Ireland’s distinctive ‘culture’. Conflict was never a battlefield event in Belfast, more its way of life. A hundred years of uneasiness is what has given the city its flavour and made it so ‘foreign’ to the rest of both Britain and Ireland.

For twenty years, we have hardly known what to make of peace, and certainly not known what to make with it. With our enemies now our partners and our fight with them officially over, we have not quite worked out who we were or how we should ‘be’ with each other. Peace was our foreign country. So we never really moved there. At best, it was a kind of second home: nice to have and to show off to visitors.

But at least it was respite. The Agreement gave protection from the storm – for a while. Though the quarrel remained, at least the violence abated. By 2007, both governments concluded that this was the best that could be achieved. Reconciliation was left for another day, though nobody admitted it. Once the world financial crash set in, new governments concluded that containment would have to do.

Containment, by definition, limits but does not eliminate what it contains. The Agreement’s ramparts were power-sharing between two previously implacable enemies in Belfast, guaranteed by a fail-safe outer wall of British and Irish government determination. When hostilities overwhelmed the locals again, the governments would make arrangements to put the system back in place.

Until Brexit. With Northern Ireland behind its safety wall and Ireland neatly separated from ‘Europe’ in the English mind, the failure to foresee the implications of a harder UK-EU frontier for the Irish bunker was almost inevitable. Focused as ever on their local struggle, few inside the Northern Ireland container saw it coming. It took a while to internalise the fact that Brexit meant the return of the border to everyday politics. Only afterwards did it dawn on politicians that containment by the Agreement was constructed on truly exceptional inter-state co-operation, which was now being destroyed by English anti-Europeanism. The Agreement had been broken not by an explosion in its core, but by a crack in its outer wall.

When the inner system failed again in 2017, what would previously have been ‘a local difficulty’ was primed to become a systemic crisis. In response, the best that anyone could offer was unstable stasis – for three years. In the meantime, active politics left Belfast. At Westminster, Northern Ireland’s Unionists seemed to have cast their lot with England’s Brexiter cavalry to seek the hardest possible deal. With only one MP present and voting, the Northern Irish anti-Brexit majority – nationalist, unionist and other – found itself represented by the Irish foreign minister and Michel Barnier of the Commission, in a perverse version of ‘everything about us, without us’. One thing it did not feel like was ‘taking back control’. When Boris Johnson agreed to ‘a customs border in the Irish Sea’ on the Wirral a week before the deadline, even Unionism’s most vocal critics were shocked by the brutal speed with which their loyalty was repaid by a Conservative government.

The UK general election in December only reinforced the strategic chaos. For the third time in a year, voters in Northern Ireland reaffirmed the 60-40 split against Brexit and shifted their votes decisively to the centre, just as England voted to pull up the drawbridge. Belfast was strangely united in the perception that the UK had lost its way, if for diametrically opposite reasons. But the electorate did not seem convinced that a United Ireland provided any obvious path forward. So though Unionism won fewer Westminster seats than Nationalism for the first time in a hundred years, the big winners were the ‘don’t knows’ and the ‘don’t trust the simple answers’.

And the election was only the beginning. The unusually activist Secretary of State, Julian Smith, moved swiftly with the Irish government to close a new deal on devolution within weeks. Not that either got any thanks for their efforts: by mid-February Smith had been removed from post, apparently for insubordination, by a rampant Johnson and the Irish government had been decisively defeated in a general election which saw Sinn Fein returned as the largest party in the state. Paradoxically, their success was almost entirely due to a campaign focussed on exclusively southern issues. But nobody thought that it would be without implications for the fragile balances in Belfast.

Exactly what has happened to either the Good Friday Agreement or Brexit – or what would happen to the border and when – remained shrouded in a thickening intellectual and political fog. High-flown commitments to upholding the Agreement to ensure unfettered market access for NI business rolled easily off the tongue. But it was increasingly difficult to pin down substance. In the meantime, Belfast does what it does best in a crisis: it puts one foot in front of the other and gets on with what remains. The ship is still afloat, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to know precisely where we are. And there are rumours of more storms.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Brexit blog, nor LSE.

Is this a return to no deal? Probably not – but there will be losers

The EU’s General Affairs Council has agreed on the negotiating mandate for the next phase of Brexit. Although the key points were already well-known and have barely changed, British negotiators will now have to work out the most problematic sections of the mandate, writes Iain Begg (LSE). Some sectors are bound to lose out.

For once in the Brexit saga, the UK had jumped-in early. In a speech by Boris Johnson delivered days after the UK left the EU, he insisted the centrepiece had to be a free trade deal similar to, but ‘at least as good as those in the EU’s recent trade agreements, such as those with Canada or Japan’. It also has to cover fisheries, security and ‘technical’ areas such as aviation, but explicitly rejects regulatory alignment.

Further details on the UK approach were published on February 27th, the main headline from which was the government announcing its readiness to end the talks in June if there was insufficient progress. If it did, the UK would be left to trade with the EU on so-called World Trade Organisation terms only, with no privileged access – what it refers to as an ‘Australia-type’ trading relationship.

This seemingly hard-line stance could presage a return to the politics of no deal from autumn 2019. What is also striking about the UK mandate are the frequent references to extant EU deals, notably with Canada and Japan, something the EU regards as untenable.

The respective ‘red lines’ are now on the table, but they only tell part of the story about where the biggest obstacles to a successful agreement lie. Inevitably, there has been much bluster about ‘walking away’, the realism of the timetable and so on, and further posturing and grandstanding can be expected. Do not be surprised if, before long, we start to hear variants on ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’.

But do not take it very seriously: both sides need a deal and have a common interest in making it rapid. It is encouraging to see the expression ‘best endeavours’ used by the EU, though not the UK, not least in relation to securing a deal within the transition period, although the UK promises to ‘work hard’.

Nevertheless, some of what is in the EU mandate must be expected to be untouchable, not least to avoid frictions inside the EU27. For example, a key point is in paragraph 10 which states that the UK, as ‘a non-member of the Union, that is not subject to the same obligations as a member, cannot have the same rights and enjoy the same benefits as a member’. Though unsurprising, this is a clear rejection of ‘having your cake and eating it’.

In what could be seen as a warning about suggestions from sources in London about reneging on the ‘divorce’ settlement or the arrangements for Northern Ireland, the EU mandate is clear on expecting the UK to deliver on the ‘effective implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement and of its three protocols’.

The EU also wants the various tracks of the negotiation to be conducted in parallel. While this could expedite matters, it could also mean no track will be fully concluded until there is comprehensive agreement.

In relation to service sectors, the EU wants to go beyond standard WTO provisions, not least in avoiding ‘unnecessary regulatory requirements’ and ‘cooperation on financial services should establish close and appropriately structured voluntary cooperation on regulatory and supervisory matters’.

This does not, however, mean the City of London can breathe easily, because the EU wants to be in the lead, with an expectation that ‘equivalence mechanisms and decisions remain defined and implemented on a unilateral basis by the European Union’. Moreover, the UK mandate is relatively slender on financial services, with just three short paragraphs, compared with more than a page on fisheries.

In some domains that might have been susceptible to friction, the EU mandate seems to be benign. Mutual opportunities in public procurement should be agreed and the EU notes the WTO’s Government Procurement Agreement as a starting point. Aviation will be based on the Union’s typical bilateral agreements – the basis is open and fair competition, but here again ‘the United Kingdom, as a non-member of the Union, cannot have the same rights and enjoy the same benefits as a member’.

There is a call for an open market for freight, but lorry drivers and haulage firms beware: Clause 73 of the mandate would curtail the ability to pick up loads other than for delivery to the UK:

“As third country operators, United Kingdom road haulage operators should not be granted the same level of rights and benefits as those enjoyed by Union road haulage operators in respect of road freight transport operations from one Union Member State to another (“grand cabotage”) and road freight transport operations within the territory of one Union Member State (“cabotage”)”.

Fishing rights have already become one of the most contentious issues, out of all proportion to the economic significance of the industry, though reflecting ramped-up political promises on both sides of the North Sea. Although the EU mandate refers to responsible fisheries, with science-based management of stocks, one of its most provocative demands is in clause 88 which states:

“the objective of the provisions on fisheries should be to uphold Union fishing activities. In particular, it should aim to avoid economic dislocation for Union fishermen that have been engaged in fishing activities in the United Kingdom waters”

Simply rephrased, it would mean no change in access to British waters for French, Spanish and other EU trawlers, an outcome guaranteed a hostile reception, certainly in Cornwall, Scotland and Yorkshire. Moreover, the mandate calls for an agreement by July, to allow the new regime to be in place for the first year after transition ends.

Several EU demands touch on regulatory equivalence and a continuing role for the European Court of Justice, outcomes that Boris Johnson was adamant he would not countenance and that are centre-stage in the UK’s February 27th mandate. As he put it in his February 3rd speech, a balanced agreement must exclude “any regulatory alignment, any jurisdiction for the CJEU over the UK’s laws, or any supranational control in any area, including the UK’s borders and immigration policy”.

The irony here is that the UK probably does not want to diverge much, if at all, from EU norms – just to assert its right to do so if or when it chooses. Consider the following:

  • The EU wants the UK to respect rules on state aids (in practice, subsidies to companies), yet over many years the UK has been among the Member States least inclined to use such aids. The Commission’s 2017 scoreboard reveals that, as a proportion of GDP, the UK spent half what France does on such aids and a third of what Germany does.
  • The EU wants to see no reduction in UK social and labour protections, what might be called ‘Singapore on Thames’. But there is no obvious appetite for this and, if anything, the result of the 2019 UK general election will lead to an increase in social spending (widely defined), and it is noteworthy that the UK has been steadily increasing the minimum wage to a level at the high end of the EU range.
  • Much the same is true for policies on the environment or countering climate change where the UK has the same values as the EU mainstream, including respect for the precautionary principle which the mandate emphasises.

In short, there may well be plenty of noise about divergence, autonomy and taking back control, but it is questionable whether it reflects profound underlying differences. The EU also wants to achieve cooperation to tackle irregular migration and on a range of security matters, on much of which the UK has very similar priorities. The corollary is that, although the detail will often be tricky, the basis for an agreement should not be hard to find.

Where the EU document is rather vague is on governance arrangements, although a reference in paragraph 160 to the Court of Justice as the ‘sole arbiter’ will not go down well in Whitehall. For the UK, the mandate suggests basing governance on existing EU deals with Canada or Japan. The EU mandate includes calls for:

  • Dialogue at appropriate levels to provide strategic direction;
  • A governing body responsible for managing and supervising the implementation and operation of the envisaged partnership, comprising representatives from both;
  • Appropriate arrangements for dispute settlement and enforcement, including provisions for expedient problem-solving.

There are lines in the EU mandate capable of antagonising the British side, be it on data protection and privacy, return of cultural objects (think Elgin – or, in Greek terminology, Parthenon – marbles), or excluding Gibraltar from the deal. Much – maybe too much – is being made of the incompatibilities in expectations and the apparently irreconcilable red lines.

Hard Brexiteers will wonder about a section of the EU mandate covering how principles for UK participation in EU programmes will be established. It specifically mentions ‘science and innovation, youth, culture and education, development and international cooperation, defence capabilities, civil protection, space and other relevant areas when in the Union’s interest’.

The last phrase suggests the UK would be very much the junior partner if the UK does, indeed, seek to stay involved in EU initiatives and poses tricky questions. It necessarily means financial contributions, but could mean a diminished UK voice in, for instance, shaping the content of research programmes.

But a negotiation is, well, just that: a process of bargaining in which concessions have to made to secure an agreement.  Such concessions, in turn, mean that some interests will be denied their aims or preferences and the harder politics will be about who to throw under the bus. Will it be the fishing industry on one side or the other; will it be UK financial services?

Henry Kissinger, no stranger to tough talks, had this advice which both sides ought to heed: “it is frankly a mistake of amateurs to believe you can gain the upper hand in a diplomatic negotiation”.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Brexit blog, nor LSE. Photo license: CC0 public domain.

Burke and Brexit: the UK’s chief negotiator displays a lack of concern about trade risks and accountability

Ahead of the government’s publication of its negotiating approach to agreeing a future relationship with the EU, the UK’s chief negotiator, David Frost, gave a speech that referenced the work of Edmund Burke. Pippa Catterall argues that Frost distorted Burke’s views, and in doing so displays a shallow and muddled understanding of the risk and uncertainty ahead.

Britain’s chief negotiator for the next phase of Brexit, David Frost, set out his stall in a speech in Brussels on 17 February. It contained plenty of questionable constitutional assertions. For instance, Frost’s statement that ‘Independence does not mean a limited degree of freedom in return for accepting some of the norms of the central power’ applies far more to Scotland’s relationship to the UK than it ever did to Britain’s position in Europe.

Commentary from expert trade negotiators also picked out the various large and dubious assumptions Frost made. First, it does not follow from his ability to cast doubt on the detail of econometric studies of Brexit’s impact that his unsupported optimism is warranted. 

Second, while he may be right that trade does not drive productivity, he adduces no hard evidence that Brexit is the magic bullet that will somehow reverse the UK’s long-term productivity problem. Third, there is instead simply an inference that Brexit will mean that Britain’s regulatory framework will be more nimble and thus incubate more investment and the productivity that it hopefully promotes. The speed of British decision-making on infrastructure projects unclouded by EU interference, such as a new runway in South-East England or the Northern Powerhouse, suggests such confidence may be misplaced. The role of public inquiries in such processes might suggest that Frost’s fourth assumption – that getting ‘people involved in making decisions’ will produce better and faster ones – is equally unsound. In any case, Frost has shown little enthusiasm for involving interested parties, such as businesses, in his negotiations. Presumably the reason why he is leading these negotiations as an unelected bureaucrat, rather than a minister in the House of Lords (which could easily have been contrived), is to ensure that Parliament has minimal involvement or opportunity to scrutinise him too.

Fifth, how much sovereignty can a polity realistically claim when it is less than 3% of world trade and is, as Frost admits, peculiarly open to trade flows? Frost may have been keen to play down the importance of non-tariff barriers. But the notion that Britain will be able to determine its own regulatory standards in trade negotiations will likely be seen as unrealistic in Washington as well as Brussels, as anyone who has been paying attention to American discussions about trade deals will readily have noticed. Not that, sixth, Frost made any effort to acknowledge the American elephant in the room.

Instead Frost’s speech told us more about what he knows about the eighteenth-century Irish political thinker and Whig politician, Edmund Burke (1729–97). Keen students of the legacy of Thatcherism will notice the shift from one eighteenth-century influence who loomed large in her era, Adam Smith, to this curious emphasis on Burke among contemporary Tories. Burke was only retroactively inducted into the pantheon of Tory thinkers in the 1920s, long after his death. Frost nonetheless claims that ‘lots of modern British conservative politicians….would consider themselves to be intellectual heirs of Burke’. Quite which bit of Burke they revere is, however, obscure. Presumably it is not the Burke who condemned the excesses of British imperialism in India.

Oddly, Frost passes up the aspect of Burke’s legacy that he could most obviously bend to his purpose. This is Burke’s sympathy with the American colonists in the 1770s. Perhaps even Frost is unwilling to claim parallels from the success of the American secession from Britain for the very different situation of Brexit Britain? Or perhaps he recognises that this would not help him to make his case. Indeed, it would lay bare his deceit that Britain is regaining ‘independence’. As a former diplomat, Frost should know that only a country with such independence can peacefully exercise the right to secede from what are at bottom treaty relations, without needing the American colonists’ use of force to throw off the British yoke.

Frost may also be aware that Burke was not a sympathiser with secession. His view, instead, was that the constitution had become unbalanced in the 1760s and that the colonists were, like him and his political confederates on this side of the Atlantic, seeking to rebalance it. It was not secession but the need for checks and balances on the arbitrary exercise of power that Burke championed.

Hence the emphasis on partnership in the one substantial passage from Burke that Frost quotes, early in his speech. In it Burke argues:

The state ought not to be considered as nothing better than a partnership agreement in a trade of pepper and coffee, calico or tobacco, or some other such low concern. It is to be looked on with reverence….It is a partnership in all science; a partnership in all art; a partnership in every virtue and in all perfection.

Frost uses this passage instrumentally to claim that the EU has moved from the low concerns of trade that Frost himself is employed to negotiate, and has become some kind of state. If Frost really grasped the nature of eighteenth-century trade he would also know that this is a false dichotomy. Burke, like all eighteenth-century statesmen, was well aware of the role of the state – often at gunpoint – in trade. Indeed, he spent much of his career deprecating this kind of behaviour by the British state in India.

For Burke, reining in such misconduct required the balanced constitution which he felt George III threatened in the 1760s and 1770s, and that the French revolutionaries threatened on their side of the Channel in the 1790s. It is from Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790) that Frost derives his quotation.

In the process, Frost takes Burke totally out of context. After all, Frost makes clear that his purpose is to praise the revolution he claims is being realised in the twenty-first century by ‘the revival of the nation state’. Let’s leave aside Frost’s dubious equation of a composite monarchy (the clue is in the proper title of the state – the United Kingdom) with the notion of a nation state. It is sufficient to point out that Burke, unlike Frost, was praising neither revolution nor nationalism. For him the state rested on an ordered partnership, rather than allegiance to principles or people or patriotism.

Frost may have evoked Burke. This, however, seems to have been an entirely spurious attempt to claim the legacy of Burke’s vision of an organic and balanced society. For in all key aspects Frost either misapplies Burke or opposes him entirely. This is most obvious in his risibly using Reflections on the Revolution in France in support of Frost’s own enthusiasm for a nationalistic overturning of international order for unstated and undefined ‘great things’. This offends against Burke’s own warnings of the dangers of abstract thinking and of playing God by assuming that some magic bullet like Brexit can somehow solve all problems.

Yet it is also obvious in Frost’s own role. A running theme of Burke’s thought was the need to balance power and make it accountable in the perfect partnership that Frost, citing Burke, spoke of in his speech. But there is not much sign that Frost – who went out of his way to signal his status as a true believer in Brexit – is actually committed to any such partnership. In contrast to his opposite number, Michel Barnier, he is also seemingly untrammelled by responsibility to Parliament, despite the great importance of his work. This is hardly Burkean.

Frost’s misrepresentation of Burke matters as much as his dubious assumptions about trade and economics. It suggests a failure to think through anything he said in Brussels, and reluctance to even recognise the shallowness of his observations. It betokens a willingness to twist words and to make unfounded claims in support of a project which seems to matter to Frost more than the country on whose behalf he claims to act. It indicates an enthusiasm to revolutionise the international trading order without any clear idea of what might replace it, an ambition that Burke would surely deplore. Finally, as with his masters, Cummings and Johnson, it demonstrates a tendency to masquerade nationalistic prejudice with supposed erudition.

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About the Author

Pippa Catterall is Professor of History and Policy at the University of Westminster.

 

 

 

All articles posted on this blog give the views of the author(s), and not the position of LSE British Politics and Policy, nor of the London School of Economics and Political Science. Featured image credit: Andrew Warran(CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) licence

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The proposed immigration system will inflict untold damage

“The UK’s Points-Based Immigration System” Policy Statement, published last week, presents a drastic change to immigration in the UK. Monique Hawkins, on behalf of the3million, representing EU citizens and their family members who have already made their home in the UK, offers their point of view.

The government’s proposal is ambitious. It’s difficult to ignore that some of the “language could almost have been designed to offend European residents” (h/t FreeMovement blog). Or the fact that this is not really a points-based system (PBS) anyway, rather a slight relaxation of the existing pseudo Points Based System that already inflicts such misery on applicants and sponsors, and which will now drag all EU citizens and family members down into it. It’s difficult to suppress continued fury that the reciprocity of free movement is consistently ignored. This government sees free movement only as inward migration to be stopped at any cost, rather than the consensual freedom we all had to live, work, and love in 28 different countries.

Instead, let’s focus on two very specific implications of this system and the recent Policy Statement for those EU citizens and their family members living in the UK, protected by the Withdrawal Agreement and having to apply for status under the EU Settlement Scheme.

A legal safety net?

For over three years now, the3million has been calling for the creation of a safety net by changing the legal basis of the EU Settlement Scheme to be declaratory rather than constitutive. This means that eligible people would have a legal status by virtue of primary legislation but would need to register (using the EU Settlement Scheme) in order to get the proof of that status. This proof would be required to demonstrate our rights to employers, the NHS and other service providers. The Government has pushed back against this, claiming that this would cause a repeat of the Windrush fiasco, but their arguments are demonstrably wrong.

In any case, because of the Withdrawal Agreement, there will now be a period during which there will have to be a declaratory status of sorts. Free movement will end on the 1st January 2021 (§1 of Policy Statement). However, EU citizens who are eligible for pre-settled or settled status, but have not yet applied for it by then, will nevertheless have to have a legal status. This is because the application deadline is set to 30th June 2021 (§30 of Policy Statement). The Policy Statement glosses over how this legal status will be achieved. It merely states that there will be a ‘transition measure’ – a temporary delay of the impending Hostile Environment for EU citizens during which employers, landlords and public service providers must continue to accept just passports / national identity cards of EU citizens without being allowed to ask for further proof of status.

We see several serious issues with this approach:

  • This is at best confusing for employers. The very next paragraph (31 of Policy Statement) urges employers to gain approval from the Home Office now if they think they will want to sponsor skilled migrants from early 2021. These mixed messages will make it fairly inevitable that employers, landlords etc. will not heed the fine print, and will turn away eligible EU citizens who have not yet been able to secure their status.
  • On the other hand, there will be EU citizens who still will not realise that they need status until it is too late – as no mass registration scheme worldwide has ever managed to reach 100% of its target audience. 1st July 2021 will be a catastrophic cliff-edge – there is no transition from not needing a status to no longer being able to obtain that status. At the exact point where employers, landlords etc can start asking for proof of status, those who were not reached in time face a complete loss of legal status.
  • It is instructive to remember the (extremely successful) Digital TV switchover campaign (see p9 of this NPC report) from 2007-2012. Even though 97% of people had signed up by the eve of the switchover, 3% had clearly still not been reached, and only signed up once they faced a blank TV screen. If the same thinking behind the EU Settlement Scheme deadline had been applied to that campaign, those 3% would face a ban on ever watching TV again, and be criminalised in the process.
  • We would be very impressed if the EU Settlement Scheme were to reach 97% of eligible citizens (though we could not ever know that anyway because we simply do not know how many of us there are exactly). Still, it is important to remember that the missing 3% translates to at least 100,000 individual human beings – many of them vulnerable such as children whose parents did not apply on their behalf, elderly without support, or simply less digitally literate people.

What we need instead is the assurance that once eligible citizens without status face consequences from employers etc., then they are saved by legislation which has conferred their legal status, for which they can then belatedly register to obtain proof.  We need the legal safety net that was, after all, promised by Boris Johnson, Priti Patel and others in 2016 when they said we would “automatically be granted indefinite leave to remain”.

Whilst the3million is obviously pleased to see that a great number of people have already secured their status under the EU Settlement Scheme (though only a temporary status for 41% of applicants), our concern has always been, and continues to be, about those who are eligible for status but ultimately fall between the cracks and fail to obtain it.

Digital discrimination?

The policy statement makes multiple references to the fact that EU citizens will not receive any physical proof of status, and instead will be the only group of citizens who will need to use an online checking service to demonstrate their immigration status and their rights and entitlements. They must do so using their passport or identity document with which they applied to the EU Settlement Scheme. What happens if their passport is lost or stolen? Renewed and retained by the issuing authority? An inability to prove one’s status in the UK’s ‘Hostile Environment’ of delegated border control wrecks lives – as we have seen with the Windrush scandal.

There is a concerning statement “For many EU citizens, their status will automatically be available when seeking to access benefits or the NHS.”  (§29 and Annex A.4 of Policy Statement). Why “many”? Why not “all”? What will happen to those whose status is not available?

In terms of crossing the border, the policy statement claims that there will be a “fully digital end to end customer journey” (§33 of Policy Statement). How will this work at foreign ports and airports? Will every check-in desk across the globe be able to access the UK’s immigration status database when trying to ascertain whether EU citizens can travel to the UK? the3million has written a letter to the Home Office asking for clarification.

It is unacceptable to use over 3 million citizens as guinea pigs in an untried and untested digital experiment, which is why the3million has been campaigning for us to receive physical proof of our status. The House of Lords (in this government’s first defeat) passed amendments to address both these major concerns; a legal safety net and physical proof of status. Given the government’s all-powerful majority, the House of Commons promptly overturned these – thereby storing up much trouble ahead for EU citizens and their families.

The Policy Statement released last week did nothing to address these issues. And that’s even before any discussion of the damage that the future immigration policy will inflict on the UK, which has been widely commented on elsewhere.

the3million urgently asks that Ministers engage with our concerns.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Brexit blog, nor LSE. Image by Global Justice NowSome rights reserved.

Sinn Féin is poised to recast Ireland’s political dynamic

Sinn Féin experienced a late surge in popularity to secure the largest share of the vote in the Irish general election on 8 February. John Ryan writes that the party’s success has redrawn Ireland’s political landscape, leaving the country’s two established parties of power, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, in a difficult position.

The Republic of Ireland’s general election took place on 8 February. Sinn Féin’s vote share increased by 10.7 percentage points, making it the most popular party. This is the first time it has achieved this distinction; it will not be the largest party in the Irish Parliament (Dáil Éireann) only because it did not run enough candidates to capitalise on its surge in popularity. In 2019, it had very poor local and European Parliament elections, losing half of its local councillors, which is making its success in the general election even more surprising.

The result is part of a story that began more than a decade ago, with the economic crisis, spending cuts and tax increases, and the intervention of the IMF and EU with a multi-lateral ‘bailout’ loan in late 2010. Fianna Fáil and the Green Party, which were in government at the time, were severely punished by the electorate at the general election in 2011. Having continued with a programme of spending cuts and tax increases from 2011 onwards, Fine Gael and Labour also lost swathes of voters in 2016, notwithstanding Ireland’s rapid economic recovery.

From 2016, Fine Gael governed with the support of a confidence-and-supply agreement with Fianna Fáil, which effectively supported the government in parliament. This arrangement lasted almost four years – long beyond its expected lifetime – partly due to the need for political stability to deal with the impact of Brexit.

Ireland’s political landscape has now been redrawn. Sinn Féin has won the popular vote in the Irish election, securing 24.5 percent of first preferences in the country’s electoral system of single transferable votes. Opposition party Fianna Fáil came second with 22.2 percent, and Leo Varadkar’s ruling Fine Gael a dismal third on 20.9 percent. As far as seat distribution is concerned, Fianna Fáil received 38 seats, down 6 seats on 2016. Sinn Féin won 37 seats, up 14 on 2016, and Fine Gael dropped 16 seats to end up with 35 seats. This means that Fine Gael had the third worst vote result in its history (after 1944 and 1948), while, for Fianna Fail, it was the second worst ever (after its post-crash humiliation in 2011).

Pearse Doherty and Mary Lou McDonald, Credit: Sinn Féin (CC BY 2.0)

Under the mechanics of Ireland’s electoral system, 39 constituencies elect between three and five lawmakers each, through a single transferable vote. Sinn Féin’s election success materialised under the leadership of Mary Lou McDonald, a Dubliner who replaced veteran Belfast leader Gerry Adams in 2018. Since the party only put forward 42 candidates to fill Ireland’s 160 parliamentary seats, and since its success has come at the expense of other left-wing parties, it may now be impossible to build a governing bloc.

Sinn Féin rode a wave of anger over homelessness, soaring rents, hospital waiting lists and fraying public services. McDonald offered left-wing solutions, such as an ambitious public housing building programme, that enthused voters, especially those under 50. Meanwhile, Varadkar’s attempt to frame the election around his Brexit diplomacy and the strong economy fell flat. Fianna Fáil was contaminated by its confidence-and-supply deal that had propped up Varadkar’s minority administration, leaving Sinn Féin to cast itself as the agent of real change.

Varadkar may have a reputation abroad as a modern and polished statesman, but his domestic image differs from this substantially. Unusually for an Irish politician, the prime minister is socially awkward, and has not emerged as the ruthless vote-winner his party hoped he would be when they chose him to replace Enda Kenny in 2017. Simon Coveney, the Foreign Affairs minister, is being sounded out by Fine Gael members about taking over from Varadkar. Coveney was runner up in the party’s 2017 leadership election.

This extraordinary election result comes at a time at which the Republic of Ireland is the fastest growing economy in the EU, whose right of centre Taoiseach (prime minster) is a competent, gay, mixed-race Irish-Indian. Sinn Féin at its core is the party that wants to call a border poll in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland on Irish unity. At the same time, it embraces multiculturalism, and supported both gay marriage and abortion rights. Relations with the UK were, until Brexit, as close as they have ever been. But Brexit altered the mood. Irish people disliked the way Brexiters disregarded Irish concerns.

Brexit itself may in fact have become Sinn Féin’s perfect storm: Not only has it locked the two larger parties into an extended problematic marriage, but it has also left the prospect of a United Ireland looking far less remote. Northern Irish voters chose Remain in the 2016 referendum but are now outside the EU anyway. Faced with the choice between two unions — the UK or the EU — many north of the border may choose unity with the Republic of Ireland in the next five years. Irish unity is Sinn Féin’s raison d’etre; already sharing power in Belfast, the party promises to hold a unity referendum within five years if it gains control in Dublin.

The two established parties of power in Ireland find themselves in a difficult situation. Varadkar has ruled out a pact with Sinn Féin and has instead floated a deal with Fianna Fáil. During the campaign, the Fianna Fáil leader, Micheál Martin, ruled out entering government with Sinn Féin but left the door open to a deal with Fine Gael. Some suspect its preferred outcome is a Fianna Fáil-Fine Gael government – an unpopular continuation of the status quo that would consolidate Sinn Féin as leader-in-waiting of the subsequent government. If Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are unable to come to an understanding to form a government, then a new election would be called, in which Sinn Féin would almost certainly run more candidates and win more seats.

On 20 February, Seán Ó Fearghaíl of Fianna Fail was re-elected as speaker which means Fianna Fail have 37 seats, the same as Sinn Féin. Four party leaders failed to win enough support to be elected Prime Minister (Taoiseach) in the first sitting of the 33rd Dáil, with Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald winning the most votes. In the first vote, members of parliament voted against Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar being re-appointed as leader of the country and he offered his resignation to President Michael D Higgins. He will continue in the role in a caretaker capacity until a new Prime Minister is elected. The result was 36 votes in favour, 107 against, with 16 abstentions.

Members of parliament also voted against Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin’s bid to become Prime Minster, as 41 voted in favour, 97 against and 19 abstained, and then voted on Green Party leader Eamon Ryan’s attempt to become Taoiseach, but he only received the support of his party’s 12 TDs, with 115 votes against and 28 abstentions. Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald failed to win enough support, with 45 votes in favour, 84 in opposition and 29 abstentions. The Irish Parliament has adjourned until Thursday 5 March and the talks seeking to agree a programme for government are set to intensify, a process that could take weeks or even months, and end in another election.

Sinn Féin is now poised to recast Ireland’s political dynamic and install itself as a third large party in what has historically been a two-party system. Whether in government or opposition, 2020 will be the election that sees Sinn Féin fundamentally break the historical tight grip of the two traditional parties on Irish politics.

Mary Lou McDonald is a smart politician, careful not to box herself in to policy positions that she cannot get out of or cannot sell to the party faithful. So while she now talks about reunification and the need for a border poll – she also stresses the need for a process of preparation for constitutional change and for orderly transition, without attaching a time scale to it.

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Note: This article was first published on LSE EUROPP – European Politics and Policy.

About the author

John Ryan is a Fellow at LSE IDEAS at the London School of Economics and Political Science and a Network Research Fellow at CESifo, Munich, Germany. He previously was a Fellow at St Edmund’s College, University of Cambridge, and the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, Berlin, Germany.

Long read | From Anglo-Irish to British-Irish relations: What’s next?

Brexit has unleashed complex and often interconnected consequences that impact on Ireland and the UK. Consequently, the context of British-Irish cooperation is now fundamentally altered. The dramatic changes that have occurred since 2016 have led to two burning core questions: how to define the relationship now, and the future path of British-Irish relations, writes Etain Tannam (Trinity College Dublin).

During the 1990s, with the signing of the 1998 Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, the term ‘British-Irish’ was introduced to replace ‘Anglo-Irish’, reflecting the need to emphasise the totality of the relationship between the islands (the ‘East-West’ relationship), not simply relations with London. It was associated with an era of unprecedented cooperation, where a shared understanding governed policy to Northern Ireland. In the run-up to the Brexit referendum in 2016, it was hoped that both governments would continue to cooperate strategically as they had done in the 1990s, to protect Northern Ireland, the soft border, the Good Friday Agreement and the British-Irish economic relationship. In fact,  after the Brexit referendum an during the campaign, it was clear that the UK government’s commitment to a joint British-Irish approach to the border issue was largely absent and the relationship was in a process of adaptation. Faced with these dramatic challenges, two core changes are likely to occur in Irish policy to its neighbouring island: Firstly, a concentration of resources by the Irish government is likely, on developing networks and contacts between civil servants, businesses and civil society actors to help compensate for the loss of joint EU networks. Secondly, increased diversification of the relationship by the Irish government is also likely, so as to develop relations with Scotland and Wales, as well as key cities such as Manchester.

The term British-Irish cooperation encompasses British-Irish intergovernmental (that is Dublin-London) cooperation, but also relations with Scotland, Wales and the Crown Dependencies. It was a term coined in the context of UK and Irish membership of the EU and also in the context of a United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. When the Good Friday Agreement was signed, Irish unification was regarded as a very distant prospect and Scottish Independence had not gathered its current momentum. The term suited Unionist emphasis that Northern Ireland was a region of the UK and should develop links with other British ‘regions’ – Scotland and Wales. It also fit with the EU’s emphasis from the early 1990s on a ‘’Europe of the Regions’, cross-cutting state boundaries. The terminology ‘British-Irish’ echoed the terminology in the 1998 Agreement, whereby Strand 3 provided for the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference (B-IIGC) and the British-Irish Council (BIC).

In practice, in the 1990s, not surprisingly, the British-Irish relationship was primarily concerned not with multiple relations between Dublin, Westminster, Edinburgh and Cardiff, but with a core intergovernmental relationship between Dublin and London. EU-funded projects such as Interreg incentivised cooperation with Scotland and Wales, but generally, cooperation was small-scale and low-key. The London-Dublin relationship appeared to go from strength to strength with state visits by Queen Elizabeth to Ireland in 2011 and by President Michael D. Higgins to England in 2012. However, the impact of Brexit in the past 3 years has altered the British-Irish relationship. Since Brexit, relations seem to have harked back to darker times, though none as dark as during the conflict in Northern Ireland. The Dublin-London axis has come under increasing pressure.

Soon after the 2016 referendum ‘cracks began to appear’ in the relationship. As the 1st phase of the EU-UK negotiations began, UK weak engagement with the Irish government continued, despite intense efforts by the Irish government. Negative portrayals of the Irish government in some UK media and some less extreme, but nonetheless negative stereotyping of the UK in some Irish media, became increasingly common.  As recently noted on this blog, both governments’ rhetoric hardened.

However, it was still tempting to think that the apparent downturn in the relationship was superficial and that it was fundamentally robust. From 2017, the UK government’s engagement increased, largely due to successful lobbying by Irish diplomats and politicians and strong EU commitment to protecting the soft border and the 1998 Agreement. It became apparent, albeit belatedly to the UK government, that EU member states would remain unanimous on the border issue. Closer cooperation ensued.

Thus, the announcement of the Withdrawal Agreement in November 2018, by then Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, was made with considerable warmth towards then UK Prime Minister Theresa May. Moreover, relations between officials were often stronger than might seem obvious and both governments emphasised the need to build deeper and wider networks between Ireland and Britain so as to compensate for the loss of EU networks. In May 2019, both governments signed a Memorandum of Understanding to formalise the 1948 Common Travel Area agreement. In January 2020, the announcement of the then Secretary of State, Julian Smith and then Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney of the New Decade agreement and resumption of the Northern Ireland Assembly after 3 years, was a reminder of the uniqueness of the relationship and its success.

However, despite these positive events, it is clear that the context that bred the evolution of British-Irish cooperation is now permanently altered. The dramatic changes that have occurred since 2016 lead to two questions about the British-Irish relationship: how do we define it now and what is its future path?

The definition of the relationship is more fluid than in the 1990s. It seems that the assumption that there is long-term robust mutual trust between both governments and predictability in the relationship has greatly weakened. Overall, there are 6 key changes to the pre-2016 context:

  1. Brexit Day occurred on January 31st and EU-UK negotiations on the future trading relationship have got off to a very bleak start. The new Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Brandon Lewis’ stated that there would be no sea border between Britain and Northern Ireland implicitly raising the possibility that the Protocol to allow in effect for a single market on the island of Ireland, could be reneged upon. In addition, following various references to the UK’s opposition to alignment with EU rules and standards, the UK chief negotiator with the EU, David Frost set out his government’s 4 key points on February 17th, again asserting that there would be no sea border between Britain and Northern Ireland, again with implications that the Protocol to protect the openness of the Irish border would be reneged upon. These statements undermined EU trust in the UK government, but also clearly undermined Irish trust specifically.
  2. Boris Johnson’s surprise sacking of Julian Smith, who was heralded as one of the best Secretaries of State in decades and who had forged close bonds with Northern Irish citizens, particularly victims of the past, highlighted again that Northern Ireland and Ireland were not prioritised in any way by the Tory government. As with the Brexit referendum campaign and the Withdrawal Treaty negotiations, politics in Westminster took precedence over Northern Ireland’s post-conflict state.
  3. The sheer administrative burden of implementing a complex system that distinguishes between goods destined only for Northern Ireland and goods going to Ireland, as well as the many other administrative changes required could cause additional tensions and resentments.
  4. Brexit implies that many valuable networking opportunities that brought British and Irish civil servants and politicians together regularly for formal and informal talks, will vanish. The central role of networks of senior civil servants was central to the peace process.  One Irish diplomat stated that on average there were on 25 meetings a day in Brussels where Irish and British officials would meet. The loss of these joint networks is a difficult gap to fill.
  5. Brexit reignited the issue of Irish unification and the strength of support for Scottish independence was highlighted by its landslide victory in the 2019 General Election. Even in Wales, where a majority voted in favour of Brexit, there is anecdotal evidence of increased interest in independence, and opinion poll evidence of an identity basis to the Leave vote. Though more speculative, it is also unclear how strong will be the commitment of the UK government to maintaining the Union, given the pressures and costs of Brexit and the rise in English nationalism. Resource distribution issues to poorer periphery ‘nations’ of the UK could be increasingly divisive in the context of the economic and financial upheaval caused by Brexit
  6. If Sinn Féin formed a government in Ireland in the future, or more immediately following its success in the 2020 Irish General Election, tensions could also increase, although unification was not the reason for its high vote share. In addition, although there is little evidence that anti-Englishness in the wake of Brexit has increased, the public row in January caused by the Irish government’s plans to remember those Royal Irish Constabulary members who died in the Irish War of Independence, highlights a lack of sensitivity to Unionists and to British citizens in Ireland. Lack of sensitivity does not imply a more strained elite level relationship, but it adds to a more negative context generally.

These fundamental changes imply that the qualified optimism of 2016 is clearly misplaced in 2020. Brexit has unleashed complex and often interconnected consequences that impact on Ireland’s relationship with the UK. They may be unintended, but there is little evidence that the UK government is particularly concerned about them, despite their transformative characteristics. So as regards the British-Irish relationship there are far more uncertainties now, there is far less predictability in the UK government’s behaviour and there is an emerging picture that the old ‘rule book’ has been revised, or destroyed. It cannot be assumed either that a Labour Party in government in the UK would signify a return to the halcyon past substantively. Until the peace process, the Labour Party did not have a strong track record in policy to Northern Ireland and Jeremy Corbyn did not prioritise it in his approach to Brexit.

If the definition of the relationship is more fluid, then what is its future? To survive, the relationship must adapt, but with one key continuity: The Belfast/Good Friday Agreement and its bilateral institutions will be vigorously protected by any Irish government and the EU has also stated its commitment many times. The Irish government will continue to nurture relations with Westminster and will aim to protect the strong relationship at civil service level, as well as maximising cooperation between the Executives. However, otherwise, there are likely to be two main adaptations: First, the development of new networks between civil servants, politicians, businesses and cultural groups, creating fora for policy learning and exchange of ideas. The 1998 Agreement may well lend itself to spawning some of these networks and its institutions may link into new networks. Both governments have referred to the need to develop and deepen networks. Under the radar, officials in both governments have continued to have good relations and cooperate on various technical and policy issues.

Secondly, diversification away from a central focus on Westminster is likely to occur. The Irish government has increasingly focused resources on building networks in Scotland, Wales and the North of England. Its consular office in Edinburgh has expanded and in 2019 its Consular Office in Wales was re-opened. Enterprise Ireland, the government agency to support Irish businesses and trade, opened an office in Manchester in 2019. Both Scottish and Welsh governments have been nurturing links with Ireland and these are likely to increase. The Scottish and Irish governments have launched a significant review of relations, seeking to develop business and cultural links and it is intended that a smaller scale review is to begin between Irish and Welsh governments. Both governments have pro-active representatives and hubs in Dublin, based in the British Embassy.

The past three years have been a bleak time in the history of the British-Irish relationship and although not as bleak as in the 1970s and 1980s, the bleakness is marked by an awareness that the relationship in many ways has regressed, after decades of improvement. Recent events have lessened trust in the UK government. However, Brexit has heightened awareness among Irish officials of the broader British-Irish relationship and the need to focus on developing wider-ranging sectoral networks as well as stronger bilateral links with Scotland and Wales. Both Scotland and Wales are receptive to such links. In this way hopefully, the two islands will continue to be, in ‘the shadow and shelter of each other’, but the term ‘British’- Irish cooperation may well become an anachronism in the decades to come.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Brexit blog, nor LSE. Image: Public Domain.

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