These, then, are the stakes.
December 2, 2017 4:40 AM   Subscribe

When it comes to the border on the island of Ireland, the coming days will stretch the politics of Brexit to the limit. RTE's Tony Connelly continues his deeply informed coverage with an outline of the main issues that need to be addressed in the coming days for an agreement on the Irish border to be reached and for Brexit talks to move to Phase II.

On Friday, President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, visited Ireland and gave strong words of support to the Irish position stating that 'The Irish request is the EU’s request.'

Therese May and Jean-Claude Juncker will have lunch in Brussels on Monday and the UK is expected to put forth it's final position to allow time for a decision to be made on whether or not sufficient progress has been made in advance of the leaders' summit on December 14 and 15.

May is in a tricky position on Northern Ireland as her government is supported by the DUP, which holds a red line on 'special arrangements' for Northern Ireland.

Whatever happens it seems as though the relatively close relations between Ireland and the UK of recent years will change.
posted by roolya_boolya (81 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
 
I am so sad and embarrassed by this. So I'll just drop in the word for when Brits try to claim Brexit is possible without harm to Ireland (also usable for the many, many other British arrogances that Brits like me perform against Irish people) - tansplaining.
posted by ambrosen at 4:50 AM on December 2 [22 favorites]


The official line seems to be to pick out a bunch of high-tech words (drones,the Internet Of Things, and, of course, blockchain are the big ones) and handwave an assurance how that is a magic pixie dust that will make everything work; that will allow an impermeable customs frontier for the EU whilst making the burden on Irish cross-border business imperceptibly small.

If one persists in questioning the existence or efficacy of this magic pixie dust, the mask slips and it is revealed that, if the Irish Republic doesn't want a hard border and are scared of being torn apart by war and terror, it should sacrifice its membership of the EU in the name of this peace it cares so much about, in turn becoming a sort of satellite state of the UK, a junior partner in orbit around London, eating British chlorinated chicken and hormone-fed beef. Some Tory Brexiters have even said that Ireland started it by unilaterally seceding from the UK almost 100 years ago, and thus has only itself to blame.
posted by acb at 4:52 AM on December 2 [12 favorites]


Brexit Bus. Navigating Brexit is easy possible when you realize how to violate the law of conservation of angular momentum.
posted by sfenders at 5:13 AM on December 2 [8 favorites]


Sinn Féin MP: hard border could mean civil disobedience.

Let that sink in.
posted by runcifex at 5:48 AM on December 2 [2 favorites]


There isn't much humour in this whole ghastly mess, but I did like Marina Hyde's blackly comic take on the Irish Question:
This makes a hard border inevitable – although, would you believe, the cabinet’s brains still can’t face up to what a “hard border” has to be. A recent paper by their weirdo thinktank crush, the Legatum Institute, suggested the border could be patrolled by drones and zeppelins. “These solutions are subject to a number of limitations,” ran the small print – “not least weather and cost.”

Assuming you have found the right cocktail of neuron-dulling substances that works for you, you’ll be relaxed that one of Britain’s Brexit “solutions” depends on the weather. I mean, what could really go wrong? The idea that a country whose rail network can be halted by leaves is considering trusting border control to a load of gazillion-pound airships that don’t really fancy it if it’s raining is too O’Hindenburg for words.

Is there an international prize for imbecilic fantasy border plans born of jingoistic folly? If so, we just bumped Donald Trump down into second place. I’m now picturing a stadium full of evangelical Brexiters, only instead of chanting, “Build the wall! Build the wall!” they’re shouting: “Launch the blimp! Launch the blimp!” Never has the Colonel Blimp tag seemed more perfectly prophetic.
posted by verstegan at 6:06 AM on December 2 [27 favorites]


you’ll be relaxed that one of Britain’s Brexit “solutions” depends on the weather.

And so the climate change hoax and Brexit run headlong into each other.
posted by TedW at 6:15 AM on December 2




Thanks for posting on this issue and Ireland/Northern Ireland politics in general. It's good to hear more about them here.
posted by Miko at 6:38 AM on December 2 [3 favorites]


So, can I mix in a bit of Gibraltar here?
posted by DreamerFi at 6:41 AM on December 2 [4 favorites]


The small Northern Ireland news group The Detail have an interesting little clip:
The sea border that's there already
They point out that:
-A recent poll shows that a majority of unionists would accept some controls between NI and GB
-There were passport controls between NI and GB from 1939 to 1952
-The 1974 Prevention of Terrorism Act introduced internal border restrictions on people which lasted 25 years ("mainland exclusion orders" which could prevent British citizens from NI entering GB, and later prevent people from GB entering NI)
-There are already agrifood restrictions on various animal and plant products entering NI from GB, which are stricter than the controls between IRL and NI

I had forgotten all about the exclusion orders, which were a big deal at the time; I also hadn't realized the extent of the agrifood restrictions already in place.
posted by Azara at 6:42 AM on December 2 [4 favorites]


Sinn Féin MP: hard border could mean civil disobedience.

Let that sink in.


Well, as long as they pay their 7% import duty they can bring in as many sinks as they want.
posted by ambrosen at 6:43 AM on December 2 [16 favorites]


I think it's a huge test for the EU folks:

A) Will they fudge, kick the can down the road, and in doing so appear to fall for the UK's Flashman type bluff and bluster?
B) Or, will they call the UK out, and point out that actually they have no tried and tested plans for the UK/EU-Irish border?

Both have huge implications. I suspect that the UK's bluff, smoke-machine, blarney and spin capabilities are turned up to 11.

Of course, even if the UK did somehow pull a rabbit out of hat re: the border, how they treat non-UK EU nationals in the UK hasn't gone away ....
posted by rolandroland at 6:53 AM on December 2


At least BoJo can be relied upon for comic relief.

Sky News: Ireland's Govt 'Told to Ignore Boris Johnson' by Foreign Office "Sky News has learnt that Foreign Office officials told Ireland's Government ‘not to listen to whatever he had to say’ ahead of Mr Johnson's visit to Dublin a few weeks ago. Extraordinarily, officials in Whitehall were very open with their counterparts in the Irish capital to ‘ignore the public utterances’ of Britain's chief diplomat."

Oh, that's right, this situation isn't funny at all.
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:56 AM on December 2 [20 favorites]


A longish BBC News article on this subject: The Hardest Border, by Nuala McCann & Christina McSorley.
posted by misteraitch at 6:59 AM on December 2 [3 favorites]


[re: "So, can I mix in a bit of Gibraltar here?"; there's an open and active more general Brexit thread here, so let's keep this one focused on Ireland. Thanks.]
posted by taz at 7:01 AM on December 2 [3 favorites]




May is in a tricky position on Northern Ireland as her government is supported by the DUP, which holds a red line on 'special arrangements' for Northern Ireland.

If May manages to alienate the DUP with this, could this cause the government to collapse and trigger a new round of elections?
posted by indubitable at 8:37 AM on December 2 [2 favorites]


We need the equivalent of Godwin's Law for what Great Britain has done throughout history with their reluctance to manage the borders they create and tend to walk away from unfinished.

The Radcliffe Line? The Balfour Declaration? The Boundary Commission?

Used in a sentence:

oh noes, we've crossed the Radcliffe Line in this thread
posted by infini at 10:28 AM on December 2 [4 favorites]


One of the dynamics going on here is that people in both the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland are pretty familiar with British media and British history. But the reverse absolutely does not apply. Some reaction from The Irish Times: 'Why is British public so ignorant on Brexit?' and ‘The Irish are just making trouble because they lost. A bit petty isn’t it really?’.
posted by rongorongo at 11:36 AM on December 2 [5 favorites]


‘The Irish are just making trouble because they lost. A bit petty isn’t it really?’


Madder than a bicycle.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:03 PM on December 2


I like the quote in the that Irish Times article:
As a few people on social media pointed out after the video went viral, if you were to ask a random selection of the Irish public to draw the border between England and Scotland, the results might not be much better.
Which implies that if you were asking those people outside a Pret a Manger in Victoria to draw the border between England and Scotland (which, incidentally, has maybe 6 A roads (+the M6) crossing it and 10 minor roads crossing it), they'd do any better than the people you stopped to ask outside Insomnia at St Stephen's Green. Quite probably the English people would do worse.
posted by ambrosen at 12:05 PM on December 2 [2 favorites]




Worth re-linking @shockproofbeats's excellent, prescient thread from 27 June 2016:
My thoughts as a Northern Irish person on how NO LEAVERS REALISED that Brexit will likely precipitate utter carnage in NI and, thusly, UK

I'm angry that the NI point is never, ever discussed. Despite
the fact we are (a) the only people who have a land border w EU...

(b) simultaneously the only part of UK for which a border would prove uniquely, and dramatically problematic...

(c) since we overwhelmingly voted for Remain because of the previous two reasons. So there's that. But it gets worse. It gets much worse.

[thread]
posted by Pallas Athena at 5:16 PM on December 2 [5 favorites]


The 13 steps to turn Leave voters against Brexit:
6. DON’T talk about the bus
The Leave campaign’s promise of £350m for the NHS was extremely successful, and even now they will claim the money is just the other side of Brexit. Why keep reminding people of our opponent’s best message?
...

13. DO make the sovereignty case for Brexit
When Leave voters say they want Britain to take back control, they are not referring to some esoteric debate about the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. They are saying they want the country to make rules for itself and not have rules imposed on it. Psychologically speaking, this is about dominance and submission. The fatal mistake of Remainers was to frame their case as one for compromise and power-sharing. Instead, we should argue that Brexit is weakening our country, putting us at the mercy of foreign powers. In order to make our own rules - and indeed impose them on others - we need to be in the EU and bossing it
posted by TheophileEscargot at 10:59 PM on December 2 [4 favorites]


The NY Review of Books link above is really interesting, as is this idea of the sea being the border. That seems to be the only possible place to implement border controls.

But that's wild, because maintaining the Belfast Agreement makes NI part of both the UK and Ireland. But NI would lose EU membership... so it's citizens are oddly Irish/British but not EU. Meanwhile, anyone traveling from NI to England has to go through border controls, even though it's within the UK.

Over time, this cleaves NI away from the UK, and sets up a reunion with Ireland. Or independence from both, with NI joining the EU, a la Scexit.

No matter what, I think the UK is going to lose NI. After Brexit, NI is going to be economically and physically tied to Ireland, and it's going to be PITA to go anywhere except Ireland (even England), and eventually NI will want to "take back control" as well.
posted by weed donkey at 11:51 PM on December 2 [4 favorites]




i'm british and i don't see how they can have any agreement at best except, northern Ireland has devolved law that matches southern Ireland's for immigration and imports, exports etc. I don't see it at all.

NB: - the Irish states not on the border voted majority for Brexit, so there are a lot of hypochrites in northern Ireland who can't just blame the mainland - if the whole of NI had voted to Remain, we would have
- Theresa May's government has a tiny majority with the DUP and pretty much relies on them, despite all the flack she gets in our press (and i'm no Tory) she's tightly hedged in, with little room for manoeuvre, between the DUP nutters, the hard brexiteers, and the mainstream of Tories and country
- most people's thoughts on Brexit are 'why are they still going on about that? It should be over by now' i say this as someone who didn't know a single remainer, so clearly live in the other bubble.
posted by maiamaia at 10:22 AM on December 3


Why Brexiters are flummoxed by the Irish border
The obvious point is that, albeit in different ways, both Norway and Switzerland participate in the single market and both are members of EFTA. This in itself considerably simplifies border issues because of regulatory harmonization*. Moreover, both are in the Schengen area, which simplifies passport issues. However, neither is within the customs union and what this means is that, in both cases, there are indeed customs posts and controls in place for goods traffic between each of those countries and the EU (in passing, another Brexiter canard, that there are no controls between the USA and Canada, is also untrue).
posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:54 PM on December 3 [2 favorites]


BREAKING: UK will concede that there will be no "regulatory divergence" on the island of Ireland on the single market and customs union, acc to a draft text seen by @rtenews

I wonder how that will work with the DUP. And what it means for the prospects of a customs union and single market between the UK & the EU.
posted by ambrosen at 3:29 AM on December 4


I wonder how that will work with the DUP. And what it means for the prospects of a customs union and single market between the UK & the EU.

No doubt Scotland will ask for the same, and if possible the City of London.
posted by PenDevil at 4:47 AM on December 4 [1 favorite]


I'm glad that it was May who met with Varadkar this morning. Because although, like the rest of the UK cabinet, she's been extremely dimwitted and stubborn about following Brexit through, she's not actually belligerent about it, so quite possibly Varadkar was actually able to give May a wake up call about how badly she'll fuck the UK (and Ireland) up if she doesn't compromise on, well, pretty much everything.

Davis and Johnson don't have a concept of failure, but I think May does. So there may be a little hope left.
posted by ambrosen at 5:38 AM on December 4 [1 favorite]


Live coverage by The Guardian.
posted by exogenous at 6:22 AM on December 4


I guess this is the meat of diplomacy, isn't it, the difference between “no regulatory divergence” and "continued regulatory harmonisation". Either way the DUP aren't happy.

This, from the guardian live feed, is an interesting point though:

We now seem to be in an odd position where Northern Ireland is getting a post-Brexit guarantee its lead political party does not want (see 1.13pm), while Scotland is being denied the same guarantee even thought its lead political party is in favour.
posted by ocular shenanigans at 6:26 AM on December 4 [4 favorites]


NB: - the Irish states not on the border voted majority for Brexit, so there are a lot of hypochrites in northern Ireland who can't just blame the mainland - if the whole of NI had voted to Remain, we would have

Isn't that just Antrim, though - and I thought half of Antrim voted to remain? Though I do agree there is a certain degree of hypocrisy going on, there is a sort of hideous honesty in that some heavily DUP ares voted to leave, and the DUP is pushing hard to create as much of a division between the Republic and the North as it can, as per its usual intentions. (Confession: all of my nationalist relatives in the North voted to remain - or as far as they are saying - and that might be giving me a rather skewed perspective on everything, because they are very, very nationalist...)

I'm glad that it was May who met with Varadkar this morning. Because although, like the rest of the UK cabinet, she's been extremely dimwitted and stubborn about following Brexit through, she's not actually belligerent about it, so quite possibly Varadkar was actually able to give May a wake up call about how badly she'll fuck the UK (and Ireland) up if she doesn't compromise on, well, pretty much everything.

The massive contempt for Ireland as a separate political entity that Tories have makes me dubious about their ability to recognize any of the seriousness about this. I don't think they can wrap their heads around the fact that backing down on this would be political suicide for any Irish politician in the South (as well as their party), so they're never going to give in on the border or stop making it an issue. (I still can't believe that Liam Fox forget about the border right at the start of this mess, or at least seemed confused that it might be an issue.)

All signs at the moment is that May might back down on the border, but the agreement that lets Irish people move to and work in the UK is now being tossed around in ways that make me nervous. I assume that's the bargaining chip the UK believes it can wield to push Ireland into not derailing everything over the border, but I can't see that being especially effective. Or a smart decision on top of all the issues with other EU citizens, but if smart decisions were being made we wouldn't be in this mess in the first place.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 8:13 AM on December 4 [3 favorites]


I'm glad that it was May who met with Varadkar this morning.

May met with Juncker in Brussels today. Varadkar was in Dublin meeting his cabinet.
posted by roolya_boolya at 9:19 AM on December 4


No deal reached in Brexit talks between May and Juncker

Earlier a draft negotiating text seen by RTÉ News indicated the UK had conceded to EU negotiators that there will be no divergence of the rules covering the European Union single market and customs union on the island of Ireland post Brexit.

The concession, if accepted by the Irish Government, would have far reaching implications for how closely Northern Ireland remains bound to EU structures.

But it remains an open question if the final text will be agreeable to both the Irish and British governments.

DUP leader Arlene Foster said that Northern Ireland must leave the EU on the same terms as the rest of the UK, and added that the DUP will not accept any regulatory divergence.

She said the Government is seeking to "unilaterally change the Belfast Agreement without our consent".

Ms Foster added that "the economic and constitutional integrity of the UK must not be compromised in any way."

Mrs May spoke with Ms Foster following her statement.

A DUP spokesperson said that the party stated their position on the border on island of Ireland, but are unclear whether that intervention prevented a deal being reached today.

posted by roolya_boolya at 9:20 AM on December 4


Let's also pause for a moment to appreciate that our Taoiseach works out.
posted by roolya_boolya at 9:23 AM on December 4 [2 favorites]




By all accounts, May put forward a proposal that she hadn't run passed the DUP.
posted by rolandroland at 10:26 AM on December 4


"hard border could mean civil disobedience. Let that sink in."

What he meat to say was, anyone who builds the actual buildings immediately becomes a legitimate target and any company that bids for the work should make sure their CEO likes returning value to shareholders more than being alive.
posted by Damienmce at 10:58 AM on December 4 [5 favorites]


Re the Sadiq Khan tweet, I don’t see how what happens re Northern Ireland affects London, unless London has a land border with Ireland, a separate agreement with the Irish government, and its own regional assembly.

I feel sympathy for Londoners and others that voted to remain but the situation in Northern Ireland is not just unique - it also contains the possibility of going back to The Troubles and no one wants that. Except for the DUP the way they’re going....
posted by lesbiassparrow at 1:24 PM on December 4 [1 favorite]


Hard Brexiters have just discovered Britain is weaker than Ireland

if, for the first time in 800 years, Ireland is proving to be in a much stronger political position than Britain, what does that say about what Brexit is doing to Britain’s strength? It is being forced to accept what it claimed to be unacceptable, not because Ireland has suddenly become a global superpower but because it has the unflinching support of EU member states, the European parliament, and the EU negotiating team. There might be a lesson in there somewhere for a country facing a future without the allies it has long taken for granted.
posted by roolya_boolya at 3:39 PM on December 4 [7 favorites]


Maybe, just maybe, Britain (or a rump state of England and Wales, or just England-minus-Yorkshire, or something) will emerge from this with a renewed sense of humility, and, finally, an acceptance that it is not a temporarily embarrassed global empire, a Gulliver held down by the chains of petty (and jealous) garlic-eating bureaucrats from the Continent. Then it can adjust to its new place and find a way of living that is not beyond the means of a small Northern European country.

The problem is it may take it a few generations in the Brexit wilderness, revelling in its splendid isolation, humming the theme from Dambusters after telling the frogs and jerries where they can stick their common market, turning on its own internal populations of foreigners and treasonous liberal cosmopolitanists, and then, finding its cupboards bare, conscripting its youth to pick the fruit that the now-repatriated Lithuanians won't pick, in the way Uzbekistan does with its cotton harvest. The fruit, of course, is all for export for hard currency; the local market is served by cheery articles in the local press about the delicious and healthy meals you can make from common roadside weeds. Basically, it's Juche with British characteristics.
posted by acb at 4:11 PM on December 4 [6 favorites]


acb, if you want the best for Britain, I feel that now's the time to be cheering about how badly humiliated May now is, and how utterly on display it is that Britain has no options, so there's no reason for it to be pretending it can save face.

Because if we cheer that, and draw attention to it, that's going to be the thing that gives us an EEA-like agreement. And we don't lose a few generations to Juche, we lose one generation where the EU functions slightly better than it would have with us, and then we re-join, humbled, but still richer than Poland and bigger than Poland and more influential than Poland, so quite important really. That's a plausible outcome and we need to be shouting "this is ridiculous, can't you just swallow your pride, Tories?".
posted by ambrosen at 6:02 PM on December 4 [4 favorites]


So - all last week, the UK and Irish governments and the EU, were locked in intensive negotiations on how to resolve the border issue. But nobody bothered to consult the DUP, who it turns out, have not only a degree of interest in the matter but also the power to bring the whole process to a grinding halt of there is anything they don't like. Maybe they just can't countenance any move that would give a perceived piece of good news to the Irish Republic, or maybe the £1.5 billion bung they were offered for their cooperation in June might need topping up. We shall see.
posted by rongorongo at 11:07 PM on December 4 [1 favorite]


Or, as Ed Miliband put it:

What an absolutely ludicrous, incompetent, absurd, make it up as you go along, couldn’t run a piss up in a brewery bunch of jokers there are running the government at the most critical time in a generation for the country.
posted by ambrosen at 2:00 AM on December 5 [7 favorites]




The only even slightly sensible solution to the Irish Question that I’ve seen was on a spoof site (Facebook link, sorry), viz: shared custody, with NI part of the RoI some of the time, and part of the UK the rest of the time.

Historically I’ve always leaned small-U unionist (and admittedly I grew up in East Antrim), but I find it increasingly easy to see a brighter future for NI as a meaningful part of a United Ireland than as a permanently forgotten part of the UK. Until recently I’d always thought we were heading towards a federal UK in a federal Europe, which would address a lot of these issues, but that feels like a bit of a pipe dream right now.
posted by doop at 12:36 AM on December 6 [2 favorites]


Today’s joyous news bulletin: David Davis admitting that there are no documents that assess the impact of Brexit on the British economy to the Treasury Cttee.

What a shambolic pile of shit this government is. I mean, I thought Brexit was a bad idea, but that it could probably be made to work & we’d get through it without it being the end of the world, but that was a year ago. Now? God knows. Although this was a great quote:
David Davis really is a poor negotiator, it wouldn't surprise me if in the final Brexit deal he signs the UK up to the Euro and the Schengen agreement. — The Screaming Eagles
Sigh.
posted by pharm at 3:02 AM on December 6 [3 favorites]


I liked the description of DD as a man with the nose of a boxer with more enthusiasm than talent.

It's bonkers, but then Brexit is a fantasy akin to a religious cult where any contact with reality provokes increasingly bizarre behaviour.

Theresa May is now a prime minister who can't sack anyone, even if they openly brief against her, lie to Parliament or embarrass the nation. She can't sign agreements she makes. The Cabinet is completely divided and its decision making utterly discredited. The economy is shot, the social systems in collapse, there is no discernible fiscal policy in place and no coherence at any level on any subject.

I think the only way out is another election.
posted by Devonian at 4:24 AM on December 6 [6 favorites]


The Monty Python cheese shop sketch conveys David Davis' utterings on Brexit in just 5 minutes - to more or less the same effect. Zilch, nada, not even Venezuelan Beaver Cheese.
posted by rongorongo at 4:27 AM on December 6


Yeah, another election is just about the only faint hope I have left, but I know in my heart they're going to cling on and continue to make it all worse.
posted by skybluepink at 4:36 AM on December 6


Chris Grey seems to think another election is pretty likely:
Hard Brexit may not quite have died this week, but it was mortally wounded. Some diplomatic manoeuvrings may enable it to stagger on for a bit longer but the real choices that Brexit poses for Britain will have to be faced. Doing so will certainly entail a massive political crisis and very likely another General Election earlier or later in 2018. How that all plays out is unpredictable. What is predictable is that all the things that were never properly discussed during the Referendum will now, finally and belatedly, have to be not just discussed but decided.
And just to be clear, when he talks about hard Brexit dying he means that there will be either a no deal Brexit or a soft Brexit.
posted by overglow at 9:15 AM on December 6 [1 favorite]


Isn't no deal Brexit just hard Brexit? What's the difference?
posted by tavella at 9:48 AM on December 6


Laura Kuenssburg tweeteth - "20 Tory MPs write to PM accusing pro-Brexit colleagues of being 'highly irresponsible to seek to dictate terms which could lead to the UK walking away'"

Twenty Tory MPs is quite enough to do the biz.

Question is - what biz?
posted by Devonian at 10:54 AM on December 6 [1 favorite]


Biz = business

Do the business = get the job done

Edit: Sorry, I misread the question.
posted by roolya_boolya at 1:26 PM on December 6


Theresa May’s Blue Monday by Fintan O'Toole for New York Review of Books.

The whole thing is worth reading but this stands out:

Britain’s agreement to accept Ireland’s demands is an expression of its weakness: it can’t even bully little Ireland anymore. And this would have been bad enough for one day. But there was another humiliation in store. Having backed down, May was then peremptorily informed that she was not even allowed to back down. She left her lunch with the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, to take a phone call from the DUP’s Arlene Foster, who told her that the deal she had just made was unacceptable. May then had to go back in and tell Juncker that she could not agree to what she had just agreed to. It is a scarcely credible position for a once great state to find itself in: its leader does not even have the power to conduct a dignified retreat.
posted by roolya_boolya at 1:31 PM on December 6 [5 favorites]


Question is - what biz?

Bring down the May government by forcing a vote of no confidence in cahoots with the opposition?
posted by pharm at 2:37 PM on December 6


If you remove May, who do you replace her with? The whole thing runs a big risk of (yet another bloody) General Election, which in turn could see Corbyn in No. 10 - I struggle to see how any Tory or DUP MPs would countenance that.
posted by doop at 2:50 PM on December 6 [1 favorite]


Quite. However, if she literally cannot govern to the point that the Withdrawal Bill can't survive, then she has to go and there has to be an election, otherwise the legal system will collapse on Brexit Day due to deep integration with a legislative system dependent on an agreement that is no longer in force.

It's not looking quite that bad yet, but the trajectory's there. The Daily Telegraph is reporting - I will not speak to its accuracy - that Europe thinks she may not survive the next week without a Phase 1 agreement.

Another Tory leadership election is near-unthinkable, because while May is just about holding things together day by day, that's at the expense of not declaring her colours - no Cabinet discussion on the end state of the process! - and that meagre luxury won't be available to the contenders for the Irony Throne, so that'll ignite war in the ranks.

What are the three laws of thermodynamics? You can't win. You can't break even. You can't get out of the game. That's pretty much where she is - and if she can't resign and she can't lead, she has to call an election and hope that having to actually take a stand will poison Corbyn with the same vitriol that's eating her away.

She may yet square the DUP (and the ultras fuming over the ECJ backtrack) in the next couple of days and get her Phase 1, but that at best will buy her a little time. Neither the DUP nor the ultras are operating in good faith, not even a little: the best she can hope for from the Phase 1 wording is tying such things to the eventual full agreement, but that then has to be negotiated from an unprecedented position of weakness and a real grown-up deadline.
posted by Devonian at 4:19 PM on December 6 [5 favorites]


We probably should have another election and, God help us, keep having them until we get a government of any colour with a mandate for something - anything. We won't because the Tories won't let May stand again, but equally refuse to bite the Brexit bullet themselves because whoever does so will have to make the unpalatable decisions that will lose them the leadership in short order. Basically the Tory MPs are all Camerons.

On top of which, if we have another election in order to circumvent the DUPs disproportionate influence in Westminster then that's presumably going to go down like a lead balloon in NI with DUP voters and leavers both.

Such a stupid ill-considered mess.
posted by I'm always feeling, Blue at 4:23 PM on December 6


Devonian: "However, if she literally cannot govern to the point that the Withdrawal Bill can't survive, then she has to go and there has to be an election, otherwise the legal system will collapse on Brexit Day due to deep integration with a legislative system dependent on an agreement that is no longer in force. "

"If something cannot go on forever, it will stop."
posted by Chrysostom at 5:23 PM on December 6


To answer my own question, it turns out the Tory leader in waiting is.. ..David Davis!
posted by doop at 11:38 PM on December 6


The National (Scottish pro-Independence paper) left their front page blank so their readers could show them what the Brexit impact reports are because the UK Govt doesn't seem to care about it.
posted by PenDevil at 1:11 AM on December 7 [3 favorites]


I see that David Davis is playing the old "so inconceivably bad that he can get a majority simply through Emperor's New Clothes syndrome" card. Well, I've got news for him: That Audacity of Shite stuff might get you some places, but it wouldn't get you as far as leading one of the world's top 10 econom...ah, never mind.
posted by ambrosen at 1:16 AM on December 7


It's OK, the sensible, responsible majority in the Tory party will rein him in and... ah, never mind.
posted by Devonian at 1:39 AM on December 7


The National (Scottish pro-Independence paper) left their front page blank so their readers could show them what the Brexit impact reports are because the UK Govt doesn't seem to care about it.
Leaving the front page blank was already a great idea - asking readers to fill it in is genius.

David Davis is the kind of guy who occasionally features in AskMe threads relating to the behaviour of somebody's worefully over-promoted manager. The advice normally goes along the line of "soon to be ex-employer" or "soon to be ex-manager". If only the country had the choice to go on the first route or the trust that the second will ever come about.
posted by rongorongo at 2:18 AM on December 7


Ho ho ho and four times ho. New poll shows more NI would choose to live in a united Ireland in the EU than in a hard-Brexited UK - 47.9 to 45.4. If the lurch towards crashing out continues and the stream of bad data continues, I doubt that gap will shrink.

Well done, DUP. Well done.
posted by Devonian at 1:53 PM on December 7 [4 favorites]


Brexit breakthrough: May pledges ‘no hard border’ as commission says ‘sufficient progress’ made
Foster says DUP won ‘six substantive changes’; Coveney says deal is ‘good outcome’

Irish Times live blog
posted by roolya_boolya at 11:41 PM on December 7


How far can such a large can be kicked, I wonder?
posted by rongorongo at 12:05 AM on December 8 [1 favorite]


From the text of the phase 1 agreement (pdf):

48. The United Kingdom remains committed to protecting and supporting continued
North-South and East-West cooperation across the full range of political, economic,
security, societal and agricultural contexts and frameworks of cooperation, including
the continued operation of the North-South implementation bodies.

49. The United Kingdom remains committed to protecting North-South cooperation and to its guarantee of avoiding a hard border. Any future arrangements must be compatible
with these overarching requirements. The United Kingdom's intention is to achieve
these objectives through the overall EU-UK relationship. Should this not be possible,
the United Kingdom will propose specific solutions to address the unique
circumstances of the island of Ireland. In the absence of agreed solutions, the United
Kingdom will maintain full alignment with those rules of the Internal Market and the
Customs Union which, now or in the future, support North-South cooperation, the allisland
economy and the protection of the 1998 Agreement.

50. In the absence of agreed solutions, as set out in the previous paragraph, the United
Kingdom will ensure that no new regulatory barriers develop between Northern
Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom, unless, consistent with the 1998
Agreement, the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly agree that distinct
arrangements are appropriate for Northern Ireland. In all circumstances, the United
Kingdom will continue to ensure the same unfettered access for Northern Ireland's
businesses to the whole of the United Kingdom internal market.


Which doesn't look like it solves anything, really - the incompatible stuff is just laid out, unless there's economic and customs alignment between the EU and the UK. Look forward to pars 49 and 50 coming back into the spotlight again and again, because nothing's been settled.
posted by Devonian at 3:34 AM on December 8 [1 favorite]


Pretty disappointed with the EU for their willingness to move on without any of the meaningful guarantees they were supposedly holding out for.
posted by Dysk at 4:10 AM on December 8 [1 favorite]


Ho ho ho and four times ho. New poll shows more NI would choose to live in a united Ireland in the EU than in a hard-Brexited UK - 47.9 to 45.4. If the lurch towards crashing out continues and the stream of bad data continues, I doubt that gap will shrink.

Can Scotland join, too?
posted by leotrotsky at 4:33 AM on December 8 [1 favorite]




I was just thinking that too.

Thanks Ireland, it’s way better than we deserve.
posted by tel3path at 8:31 AM on December 8


I mean, I'm definitely still sorting this out myself. But I think the crucial line is this:

In the absence of agreed solutions, the United Kingdom will maintain full alignment with those rules of the Internal Market and the Customs Union which, now or in the future, support North-South cooperation, the allisland economy and the protection of the 1998 Agreement.


Which sounds like a pretty soft Brexit. At the very least, this deal looks like the UK has almost entirely accepted the EU's demands and requirements.

And, as usual, Chris Grey's assessment seems the most clear to me:
The most obvious feature of what has been agreed is that in all but a few minor details Britain has accepted all the terms set out by the EU at the beginning of the negotiations. That was always inevitable unless we simply pulled out of the talks and committed national suicide, and it would have been far quicker and squandered less goodwill had the government accepted it on day one...

A word fudge - ‘full alignment’ between the UK and the EU if no alternative deal is reached which keeps the border open - has postponed but not resolved the fundamental issue...

It seems to mean that hard Brexit is not going to happen, because no free trade deal can solve the border issue, despite what hard Brexiters imagine. But it also seems to mean there will probably not be a ‘no deal’ Brexit, because the default position outlined in the phase 1 agreement effectively defines no deal as soft Brexit. I suppose it’s conceivable that Britain could at that point rip up the phase 1 deal, and make itself an international pariah, but that is far less likely now that we have agreed to that deal.
There's lots more good analysis there, especially of why the Tory Brexiteers are willing to support this deal, which is so far from their ideal. (Essentially it's the best they can get.) But I don't want to quote the whole blog post.

So, all in all, this seems like a welcome climb down from the Tories and DUP's mind boggling intransigence and actually good news for everyone. Well, perhaps everyone aside from British citizens living in the EU. Oh, and extreme right wing nationalists.
posted by overglow at 10:33 AM on December 8 [2 favorites]


Well, upon further reflection, relatively good news. Relatively.
posted by overglow at 11:08 AM on December 8


Is it going to stick, though? May's basically a figurehead at this point, it seems, so does she actually have the power to push it through when the rising figures in the party are all selling themselves on hard brexit?

Or are they going to let it go through, since they know perfectly well what a disaster it would be, and then portray her as the backstabber to be blamed for everything?
posted by tavella at 11:33 AM on December 8 [1 favorite]


It's not just May, it's May and the EU that other Tories have to get past.
posted by tel3path at 11:42 AM on December 8


Er, to clarify -- I mean, what a disaster it would be to leave without any deal, not that May's soft Brexit deal would be a disaster.
posted by tavella at 12:45 PM on December 8


Stop the Cavalry
posted by Elmore at 4:35 PM on December 8 [1 favorite]


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