Posts Tagged ‘Northern Ireland’

David Davis clashes with Ireland over Brexit deal

Brexit secretary describes deal as a ‘statement of intent’, leading Irish government to insist it will hold UK to phase one agreement

David Davis has clashed with the Irish government after claiming that the Brexit divorce agreement between Britain and the EU was a “statement of intent” rather than something legally enforceable.

The Brexit secretary’s comments came after it was reported that Downing Street advisers had told cabinet ministers who campaigned to leave the EU that promises around full regulatory alignment were “meaningless”.

Continue reading...

‘Single market variant’ only way to avoid hard border in Northern Ireland, says Keir Starmer – video

Shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer has said Labour is prepared to accept the ‘easy movement’ of workers between the EU and Britain in order to secure the benefits of both the single market and customs union after Brexit. Appearing on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Starmer added that Labour’s approach was ‘the only way to achieve no hard border in Northern Ireland’

Continue reading...

A deal – any deal – is clearly better than no deal

Now we know: a deal – any deal – is clearly better than no deal. After a frantic overnight scramble to agree the wording and the Prime Minister’s dramatic early hours’ flight to Brussels, the EU’s leaders are now willing to draw a line under phase one of the Brexit negotiations. Below, Iain Begg (LSE) explains the deal that has been struck in more detail.

Whistling up a deal?

Unless something unravels, we can expect the European Council, meeting on the 14th and 15th of December, to fire the starting-gun on negotiations about the future relationship between the UK and the EU. True, the fifteen-page document summarising what was agreed does state, twice, the ‘caveat that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed’, but there is unlikely to be any appetite for prolonging the agony.

Theresa May can take credit for bringing matters back from the brink by finding a formula to placate the DUP and agreeing to go well beyond what she offered as a financial settlement in her Florence speech, barely two months ago. She seems, so far, also to have seen off the hardliners in her own party. However, in classic EU style, there are fudges and ambiguities in the text, some of which may come back to haunt her.

On Ireland, the language about the commitment to the peace process and the Good Friday agreement is stirring and there is an unequivocal statement of the UK’s ‘guarantee of avoiding a hard border’. This sits alongside a statement that ‘the United Kingdom will ensure that no new regulatory barriers develop between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom’ without the agreement of the Northern Ireland authorities.

The text refers to achieving these twin aims through the ‘overall EU-UK relationship’, but what is far from clear is how. The inexorable logic of the UK not being in the customs union and having no barriers between Northern Ireland and Great Britain still applies: there has to be some form of border in Ireland. The solution proposed is that ‘in the next phase work will continue in a distinct strand of the negotiations on the detailed arrangements required to give them effect’. To revert to a metaphor often heard during the years of the euro crisis, the can has been kicked down the road.

the UK has largely caved-in to what the EU had demanded

When it comes to the divorce bill, the UK has largely caved-in to what the EU had demanded from the outset by agreeing ‘a methodology for the financial settlement’. There is no explicit figure for how much, but finance ministers in other EU countries will have a pretty shrewd idea of what it means for them.

Whistling up a deal? (Image Public Domain)

Briefings from No. 10 suggest the overall amount, to be spread over many years, may be just shy of £40 billion. The modest rise in the value of sterling this week helps because it means (at today’s exchange rate) fewer pounds will be needed to pay the bill, but the suspicion has to be that the eventual figure will be somewhat higher given what is detailed in the ‘methodology’.

Key elements of the deal are left deliberately vague. For example, in a major concession compared with the Florence speech, the UK has now accepted ‘it will contribute its share of the financing of the budgetary commitments outstanding at 31 December 2020’. This leaves open what the relevant share is.

Similarly, hidden away in footnote 9 of the document is a technical statement about the assumptions regarding the interest rate to be used to calculate the EU’s lability for staff pensions, although the mere presence of the footnote must be interpreted to mean the UK has accepted it will have to pay. In essence, if interest rates return to more normal levels, a lower pension pot will be enough to generate the income required to pay retired EU staff.

For the EU, facing the prospect of acrimonious negotiations about how to fill the hole left in its budget by the departure of the UK, a figure of the order of €40-50 billion will be a great relief. In round numbers, it will mean no need to fret for at least four years about whether the other net contributors have to pay more or recipients receive less.

In Brussels, they’ll be whistling now, but the tune will be Beethoven’s ode to joy

The EU, as many will recall, was once told it could ‘go whistle’ for the money. In Brussels, they’ll be whistling now, but the tune will be Beethoven’s ode to joy.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Brexit blog, nor the LSE. It first appeared on The UK in a Changing Europe.

Iain Begg is Professorial Research Fellow at the European Institute and Co-Director of the Dahrendorf Forum, London School of Economics and Political Science, and Senior Fellow on the UK Economic and Social Research Council’s initiative on The UK in a Changing Europe.

The Guardian view on Brexit divorce: Tories divided | Editorial

The puzzle of Northern Ireland has seen Theresa May commit to a soft Brexit. But politically she advocates a hard Brexit, outside the single market and customs union. This tension cannot be sustained

Divorce is often a stressful, hostile process, riven by bad feeling on both sides. For Theresa May’s government, leaving a union with Europe is proving to be a humiliating experience. It has been embarrassing to witness ministers pursue a strategy of bluster, blunders and climbdowns to deliver the misguided exit from the European Union. On Friday morning the terms of the divorce settlement were reached, two months later than expected. In surrendering to reality, Britain could begin talking about how we could rub along once the divorce was finalised. It is instructive that Brexiters in the cabinet congratulated Mrs May for her capitulations, which only weeks ago they would have viewed as treason. The Tory leavers know that the ultimate prize – to depart the EU – is within their grasp. They are prepared to put aside their supposed principles to achieve it.

This is not the end of the marriage but it is the beginning of its end. The needed restoration of faith in the stability that a union of purpose provides will not come through recriminations. To inspire confidence one must demonstrate it in oneself. Yet the 15-page deal crystallises the divisions within the Conservative party. It is significant that the passage on Northern Ireland commits the UK to full regulatory alignment with the EU after Britain leaves the bloc “in the absence of other agreed solutions”. This goes beyond areas of cooperation under the Good Friday agreement and would tacitly commit Britain to many facets of EU membership as a default option post-Brexit. Such an outcome would be anathema to ardent Brexiters, who fantasise about being able to conduct free trade deals outside of the “protectionist” EU.

Continue reading...

Arlene Foster: Brexit brinkmanship rooted in a border childhood

The DUP leader was born into the bloodiest era of the Troubles and was never going to back down over the border question

In an age of marginal political figures seizing centre stage, it is apt that the most powerful person in Britain this week was not the prime minister but Arlene Foster, a 47-year-old County Fermanagh solicitor and the first woman to lead Ian Paisley’s staunchly loyalist Democratic Unionist party.

Until she torpedoed Theresa May’s initial Brexit deal on Monday, Foster’s most notable contribution to public life had been the spectacular mismanagement of a subsidy scheme for woodchip boilers that led to Northern Irish farmers being paid up to £1m to heat empty barns.

Continue reading...

Tories sleepwalk towards soft Brexit

The UK government was deluded when it thought reaching a deal would be easy. It is deluded now in underestimating the concession it has made, writes Conor Quinn.

What’s the Irish view on the Brexit border dispute? Difficult discussions lie ahead | Brigid Laffan

The UK-EU statement is a significant achievement that meets the needs of Dublin and the DUP – for now. But many twists and turns are still to come

• Brigid Laffan is director of the global governance programme at the European University Institute, Florence

The question of the Irish border brought the Brexit talks to a halt on Monday when the DUP stymied an emerging deal. The unfolding drama this week was no surprise to anyone with even a cursory knowledge of the island of Ireland and the delicate balances that has kept Northern Ireland in an uneasy peace over the last 20 years.

The question of Ireland was always going to be one of the most difficult to resolve, and remains so. The agreement reached in Brussels is just a staging post, with many twists and turns ahead. That said, the joint statement is a significant achievement that meets the needs of the Irish government and the DUP for now.

Continue reading...
Powered by WordPress | Designed by: index backlink | Thanks to insanity workout, car insurance and cyber security