Brexit: England's difficulty, Ireland's opportunity

seabhac siulach

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412
Yesterday, in her speech in Florence, Theresa May called for a 2 year transition period post-Brexit in order to facilitate EU-UK trade talks. However, unanimous agreement is required by all remaining 27 EU states for this transition period to go ahead.

Now, while it would seem largely implausible that any country would block this transition period, considering the prospect of an uncontrolled hard brexit being the result, are there possibilities there for an EU state to apply maximum pressure to extract concessions from the UK?
In particular, are there opportunities for Ireland?

At the moment, it would appear that the DUP has the upper hand in the North, given their deal with the Tories. Part of this deal involved the Tories ruling out any special Brexit agreement for the North in terms of Customs, etc.
Could Ireland use its moment of leverage over the British(English) re the Brexit transition period to force a special Brexit arrangement, whereby Northern Ireland remains inside the single market and customs union? That is, to move the border into the Irish Sea.

Could further concessions be obtained with regard to “joint authority”?
This may be a rare historical opportunity to apply maximum leverage, to extract concessions from our British “friends” at a moment of their greatest weakness. To perhaps, in some small way, to pay back the great “friendship” Britain has shown us through history.

It is in Ireland's strategic interests that such a special agreement is agreed, the one sure way to remove the threat of a customs/immigration border. This was reiterated by the EU Brexit negotiator, Guy Verhofstadt, yesterday.

As an election is forecast in Ireland by next spring, the Irish government in office in 2018 will be the one that has the opportunity to negotiate for Ireland's strategic interests. Are any of the Irish parties up to this task, willing to have the heart of steel required to withstand the inevitable pressures for compromise? Let's say I am doubtful (particularly of Fine Gael. Varadkar anyone? A man distracted by socks.).

It is of interest that one of the potential coalitions coming out of any election is a Fianna Fáil/Sinn Féin coalition (who believes Micheal Martin’s denials on this?). Could a government containing Sinn Féin be the one that will force British concessions regarding the North? Could this prospect of government in the South be the reason why Sinn Féin is unwilling to compromise in the Stormont talks, knowing that by delaying, their moment of maximum leverage (Brexit talks) comes closer? It may be in the DUP’s interests to come to an agreement (any agreement) now while they have some leverage, rather than wait (as is Unionism’s habit) for when their leverage is.much reduced. However, as with supporting Brexit, Unionism rarely shows such “smarts”.

So, an historic opportunity awaits. A potential foreign policy victory falls into the lap of the Irish govt (ironically through the fumbling incompetence of the English political class). Some might say we shouldn't attempt to exert pressure on our British “friends” (such concern for their neighbours wasn't shown by the British in promoting Brexit!). However, we must remember a state has no friends, only interests. Let us look to Irish interests now (please God, for once).
 


Lumpy Talbot

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No
Our political history is not good in terms of extracting advantage from international situations where we fleetingly have leverage.

I am thinking of Cowen's chance at raising the profile of a Taoiseach beyond our national borders when Lisbon I returned a result that the European Union didn't like. There were many around Europe looking at Ireland at that point as they had not had the opportunity to vote on the turning of the European project into a Federal superstate.

When Cowen folded and agreed to a re-run of the Lisbon vote he turned his back on a rare opportunity available to Taoisigh of finding broad support across Europe and becoming the focal point of a real debate.

I would never suggest that FF wouldn't go into coalition with Sinn Fein. FF would go into coalition with anyone if there was a chance at sitting on the patronage distribution system woolsack again. One thing we know about Fianna Fail is that they have no principles whatsoever in this regard.

On Northern Ireland- in order to exert pressure on Westminster for concessions on the North we would have to be clear with Northern Irish stakeholders what the agreed landing ground might look like and that may have to include guarantees which would reveal clear advantages to NI in exerting such pressure on Westminster.

I've long suspected- since the 1990s- that Westminster would accept any roadmap which ultimately frees them of the Unionist MPs and involvement in the north generally so it could be pushing at a fairly open door as far as they are concerned.

The problem again could be with the Unionist MPs as the timing from their point of view wouldn't be right as they are currently operating on the assumption that they have leverage with their own confidence and supply arrangement with the current government.

However if the May government were to fall and a new election hove into view then the conditions might be right for the Irish waving of a veto around the Brexit two year transition period idea.

Presenting an incoming UK govt with that possibility would actually maximise our negotiating position but the real danger would be ignoring the concerns of Northern Ireland Unionists which could lead to all sorts of crises.

It is a peculiar situation fraught with both opportunity and dangers but there is a way to forestall the dangers and that is by talking openly with Unionist representatives and ensuring there is something of real benefit to them in being pragmatic around Westminster.
 

Dame_Enda

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There won't be any Joint Authority. I've been hearing that dead-horse being flogged my whole life.

On immigration I dont support the cosy-consensus on the hard/soft border. I think there should be ID checks to curtail illegal immigration into the Republic. But if that can be done in the Irish Sea instead of the N-S border, that would be much better. But the Unionists have always opposed this idea and the Tories are not in any position to force the issue on them.
 

Mick Mac

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Jan 6, 2017
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7,851
Yesterday, in her speech in Florence, Theresa May called for a 2 year transition period post-Brexit in order to facilitate EU-UK trade talks. However, unanimous agreement is required by all remaining 27 EU states for this transition period to go ahead.

Now, while it would seem largely implausible that any country would block this transition period, considering the prospect of an uncontrolled hard brexit being the result, are there possibilities there for an EU state to apply maximum pressure to extract concessions from the UK?
In particular, are there opportunities for Ireland?

At the moment, it would appear that the DUP has the upper hand in the North, given their deal with the Tories. Part of this deal involved the Tories ruling out any special Brexit agreement for the North in terms of Customs, etc.
Could Ireland use its moment of leverage over the British(English) re the Brexit transition period to force a special Brexit arrangement, whereby Northern Ireland remains inside the single market and customs union? That is, to move the border into the Irish Sea.

Could further concessions be obtained with regard to “joint authority”?
This may be a rare historical opportunity to apply maximum leverage, to extract concessions from our British “friends” at a moment of their greatest weakness. To perhaps, in some small way, to pay back the great “friendship” Britain has shown us through history.

It is in Ireland's strategic interests that such a special agreement is agreed, the one sure way to remove the threat of a customs/immigration border. This was reiterated by the EU Brexit negotiator, Guy Verhofstadt, yesterday.

As an election is forecast in Ireland by next spring, the Irish government in office in 2018 will be the one that has the opportunity to negotiate for Ireland's strategic interests. Are any of the Irish parties up to this task, willing to have the heart of steel required to withstand the inevitable pressures for compromise? Let's say I am doubtful (particularly of Fine Gael. Varadkar anyone? A man distracted by socks.).

It is of interest that one of the potential coalitions coming out of any election is a Fianna Fáil/Sinn Féin coalition (who believes Micheal Martin’s denials on this?). Could a government containing Sinn Féin be the one that will force British concessions regarding the North? Could this prospect of government in the South be the reason why Sinn Féin is unwilling to compromise in the Stormont talks, knowing that by delaying, their moment of maximum leverage (Brexit talks) comes closer? It may be in the DUP’s interests to come to an agreement (any agreement) now while they have some leverage, rather than wait (as is Unionism’s habit) for when their leverage is.much reduced. However, as with supporting Brexit, Unionism rarely shows such “smarts”.

So, an historic opportunity awaits. A potential foreign policy victory falls into the lap of the Irish govt (ironically through the fumbling incompetence of the English political class). Some might say we shouldn't attempt to exert pressure on our British “friends” (such concern for their neighbours wasn't shown by the British in promoting Brexit!). However, we must remember a state has no friends, only interests. Let us look to Irish interests now (please God, for once).
You do realize that if the border is in the sea and Ireland closer to being a single polity this positive development will require the South and the North to have very tight immigration rules.

Unification be default might require strict immigration controls. Thsts going to be a problem for many campaigners who'll happily not take that step.

We're going find out whether reunification or aligning to the open immigration policy of the EU and the neo liberal governments is more important.
 

RasherHash

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Jan 16, 2013
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24,539
You do realize that if the border is in the sea and Ireland closer to being a single polity this positive development will require the South and the North to have very tight immigration rules.

Unification be default might require strict immigration controls. Thsts going to be a problem for many campaigners who'll happily not take that step.

We're going find out whether reunification or aligning to the open immigration policy of the EU and the neo liberal governments is more important.
Also Scotland keeps being left out Of The agenda.

They voted to remain as well so the EU border should stop at Hadrian's wall.
 

blinding

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Jul 1, 2008
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17,399
Also Scotland keeps being left out Of The agenda.

They voted to remain as well so the EU border should stop at Hadrian's wall.
Scotland voted to stay in the UK and all polls and the SNP distancing itself from another Independence referendum suggests that there is probably more people now in favour of staying in the UK .

If the UK is not leaving the EU until 2021/ 2022 then there should be a Border Poll in or around that time to see which way Northern Ireland wants to go .
 

seabhac siulach

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Joined
Feb 6, 2008
Messages
412
Our political history is not good in terms of extracting advantage from international situations where we fleetingly have leverage.

I am thinking of Cowen's chance at raising the profile of a Taoiseach beyond our national borders when Lisbon I returned a result that the European Union didn't like. There were many around Europe looking at Ireland at that point as they had not had the opportunity to vote on the turning of the European project into a Federal superstate.

When Cowen folded and agreed to a re-run of the Lisbon vote he turned his back on a rare opportunity available to Taoisigh of finding broad support across Europe and becoming the focal point of a real debate.

I would never suggest that FF wouldn't go into coalition with Sinn Fein. FF would go into coalition with anyone if there was a chance at sitting on the patronage distribution system woolsack again. One thing we know about Fianna Fail is that they have no principles whatsoever in this regard.

On Northern Ireland- in order to exert pressure on Westminster for concessions on the North we would have to be clear with Northern Irish stakeholders what the agreed landing ground might look like and that may have to include guarantees which would reveal clear advantages to NI in exerting such pressure on Westminster.

I've long suspected- since the 1990s- that Westminster would accept any roadmap which ultimately frees them of the Unionist MPs and involvement in the north generally so it could be pushing at a fairly open door as far as they are concerned.

The problem again could be with the Unionist MPs as the timing from their point of view wouldn't be right as they are currently operating on the assumption that they have leverage with their own confidence and supply arrangement with the current government.

However if the May government were to fall and a new election hove into view then the conditions might be right for the Irish waving of a veto around the Brexit two year transition period idea.

Presenting an incoming UK govt with that possibility would actually maximise our negotiating position but the real danger would be ignoring the concerns of Northern Ireland Unionists which could lead to all sorts of crises.

It is a peculiar situation fraught with both opportunity and dangers but there is a way to forestall the dangers and that is by talking openly with Unionist representatives and ensuring there is something of real benefit to them in being pragmatic around Westminster.
Brexit has or is changing the Unionist mindset. This is increasingly clear, e.g. from statements from Unionists like in the following piece:
https://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/border-poll-could-erupt-in-violence-sdlp-mla-warns-1.3231955
The auguries are promising. Brexit has changed the whole game (how stupid of the DUP to have supported something that weakens their position).

At the moment, the South cannot afford to take on the running costs of the North (we are told), but Brexit opens up the possibility of beginning the process whereby unity may take place at some future point (in an organic, gradualist way, so as not to scare the Unionist horses).

A starting point for this is to force a special status for the North (to ensure it remains in the Customs Union/Single Market), i.e. wielding our Brexit veto. In this way, the British continues to pay for the North, while, at the same time, it becomes increasingly integrated with the South.
Importantly, our EU allies (with their combined diplomatic weight) are on our side vis-a-vis the British. A position of some strength has fallen to the Irish government.

Is it likely the Tories will abandon their DUP allies to obtain a transition deal, assuming Ireland wields its veto? Who knows, but historically the imperatives of England always outweigh those of the other nations in the UK (as the Brexit vote has again proven). The real possibility of a Corbyn-led government (a man who has always supported Irish unity) in the near future highlights the weak position of unionism.

It remains to be seen if the Irish political class, seemingly long wedded to a strange Anglophilia, will seize the rare opportunity that has fallen into their laps.
 

jams odonnell

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Mar 31, 2010
Messages
1,102
The UK has offered the EU an implementation period, rather than a transition period. Northern Ireland is as British as Finchley.

Theresa May reiterated in Florence that the UK will not allow the EU impose a hard border in Ireland.

Hearts and minds of British Steel.
 
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