Wednesday, 28 February 2018

The Impossibility of the Prime Minster's Answers #Brexit #NorthernIreland

Today the Answers given to some of the Prime Minister's Questions did not seem to be logical however they do cast some idea of the shape that Brexit will take.

Basically Jeremy Corbyn, Ian Blackford, David Simpson, Michael Tomlinson Gregory Campbell, Kenneth Clarke and Simon Hoare asked her in various forms about Northern Ireland, Brexit and the Good Friday Agreement.

From the answers we received today we have learnt the following:

  1. She is committed to the Good Friday Agreement
  2. She is committed to devolution in all parts of the UK
  3. She does not want to see a hard border on the island of Island
  4. She does not want to see a customs and regulatory border down the Irish Sea
  5. She does not want to undermine the UK common market
A lot of this was in relation to the draft proposal to keep Northern Ireland in the customs union and single market. If as Boris said yesterday it would be possible to control the NI border as easily as between Camden and Islington this would be that easy peasy lemon squeezy option. As there would therefore not be that much of a border on that land border and it could be dealt with in a electronic way.

The problem is that you have the Good Friday Agreement that almost 20 years ago was the settled will of the majority of people North and South in Ireland. A lot of that functionality was based on there not being anything different between the two parts. I mean we were both in the largest trading bloc in the world and surely we wouldn't be foolish enough to throw that into jeopardy for the uncertainly of negotiating with the rest of the world including the rest of the EU. 

Now you are trying to make a frictionless border, but in the words used today the UK clearly wants to divert from the requirements of the customs union and single market as to apply this merely to NI would "undermine the UK common market and threaten the constitutional integrity of the UK".

But surely having devolved powers, which have also been recently promised to be increased post-Brexit, means there is already certain differences between the powers. Scotland has only recently used its tax varying power. The DUP are adamant that on certain areas Northern Ireland should be able to make their own decisions (if only someone was actually sitting in the Assembly able to do so). So how can something affecting one part of the UK therefore threaten the UK common market?

Maybe we have seen something about the post-Brexit situation. May's government wants to move away from the regulations that tie us into the customs union and single market. Some of those regulations are so that we produce compatible products that we can then sell to our largest and closest overseas (or in the case of Ireland down the road) markets. Can the plans really be that radical that it will undermine the UK market if NI remained.


Has the PM let the cat out of the bag. Will international business pick up on that. What about British business that exports a large proportion. This does not sound like a great economic promise to them of frictionless trade with the EU.

How is it going to be possible to meet all the objections that the PM has clearly outlined multiple times today? From what she has said today it seems impossible. The UK government clearly has no plan for how to deal with the Irish problem after 20 years of having an answer after centuries of not we look like we are being sacrificed once more.  

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