Britain Gives into European Demands on Northern Irish Border

British prime minister Theresa May and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker pose for photos in Brussels, December 4
British prime minister Theresa May and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker pose for photos in Brussels, December 4 (European Commission)

As I predicted it would, Britain has given into European demand on the Northern Irish border in order to secure an exit deal on Friday that paves the way for talks about the kingdom’s post-Brexit trade relations with the EU.

In the absence of an innovative solution, Britain is now committed to 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 all-island economy and the protection of the 1998 Agreement” that brought peace to Northern Ireland.

The text also specifically bars the United Kingdom from imposing “new regulatory barriers” that could put the 1998 Good Friday Agreement at risk. Read more

Brexiteers Come to Terms with Reality

David Davis and Michel Barnier, the Brexit negotiators for the United Kingdom and the European Union, deliver a news conference in Brussels, June 19, 2017
David Davis and Michel Barnier, the Brexit negotiators for the United Kingdom and the European Union, deliver a news conference in Brussels, June 19, 2017 (European Commission)

Euroskeptics in Britain’s ruling Conservative Party are finally coming to terms with the realities of Brexit.

  • They once rejected working out the terms of Britain’s exit before negotiating a trade deal. They have since accept Europe’s timetable.
  • They once suggested Britain could leave without a deal. Now they are willing to make the concessions necessary to avoid a “hard” Brexit.
  • They once ruled out paying an exit bill. Now they are prepared to cough up £50 billion for an amicable divorce.
  • They never during the 2016 referendum campaign mentioned a transition period, during which EU rules and regulations would continue to apply. That now looks inevitable. Read more

If Northern Ireland Gets Special Deal, London and Scotland Want One Too

View of the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh, Scotland, November 16, 2011
View of the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh, Scotland, November 16, 2011 (Wikimedia Commons/Ronnie Macdonald)

The leaders of London and Scotland have called for special status if Northern Ireland is somehow partially exempt from Brexit.

Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, tweets:

Londoners overwhelmingly voted to remain in the EU and a similar deal here could protect tens of thousands of jobs.

Nicola Sturgeon, the first minister of Scotland, agrees:

If one part of UK can retain regulatory alignment with EU and effectively stay in the single market (which is the right solution for Northern Ireland) there is surely no good practical reason why others can’t.

A majority of Scots also to stay in the EU last year. Like Londoners, they were overruled by majorities in favor of Brexit in England and Wales. Read more

Irish and Northern Irish Leaders Make Contradictory Brexit Demands

Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar answers questions from reporters in Brussels, June 23
Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar answers questions from reporters in Brussels, June 23 (European Council)

Leaders from Ireland and Northern Ireland have made contradictory demands that threaten to hold up the Brexit negotiations.

  • Leo Varadkar, the prime minister of Ireland, has threatened to veto progress in the talks unless a hard border with Northern Ireland is ruled out.
  • Arlene Foster, the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) of Northern Ireland, whose support Theresa May’s Conservatives need for their majority in Westminster, has said she will accept neither a barrier between the province and the rest of the United Kingdom nor an agreement that would force Northern Ireland to mirror EU regulations.

They can’t both have their way. Read more

Brexit’s Broken Promises

The British flag flies over the Houses of Parliament in London, England
The British flag flies over the Houses of Parliament in London, England (Unsplash/Matt Milton)

The New Statesman reports that none of Brexit’s promises have come true:

  • Brexiteers said leaving the EU would unleash growth. Instead, growth has stalled and higher inflation has depressed real wages.
  • David Davis, now Brexit secretary, said Britain would be able to create “a free-trade area massively larger than the EU.” So far, no country has expressed an interest in doing a separate trade deal with the United Kingdom.
  • Liam Fox predicted that trade talks with the EU would be “one of the easiest in human history.” But the EU insists on properly negotiating Britain’s exit before even starting trade negotiations.
  • Rather than give Britain an extra £350 million to spend on health care each week, the Office for Budget Responsibility projects that the country will lose the equivalent of £300 million per week because of Brexit.

Little wonder that supporters of leaving the EU have continually lowered expectations. The promise of Brexit has been downgraded from a Singapore on the Thames to not “as apocalyptic as some people like to pretend”.

British Reject Plan to Keep Northern Ireland in Customs Union, Single Market

The Ulster Banner flies over Londonderry in Northern Ireland, August 17, 2009
The Ulster Banner flies over Londonderry in Northern Ireland, August 17, 2009 (Wikimedia Commons)

Britain is fighting an EU proposal to keep Northern Ireland in the bloc’s customs union and single market in order to avoid closing the border with the rest of the island.

“We will leave the EU in 2019 as one United Kingdom,” James Brokenshire, Theresa May’s Northern Ireland secretary, has said.

He argued on Monday it would be “impossible” for the province to remain half in EU when the rest of the country exits. Read more

Without Brexit Deal, United Kingdom Would Be Thrown into Chaos

View of The Shard skyscraper in London, England, April 15, 2012
View of The Shard skyscraper in London, England, April 15, 2012 (Flickr/Johnas)

Brexiteers who believe leaving the European Union without a deal would not be the end of the world should think again. Politico reports that the consequences of a “hard” Brexit could be disastrous:

  • Flights between the United Kingdom and continental Europe will be grounded, possibly bankrupting airlines and instantly ramping up demand for ferries and trains.
  • Ports on each side of the English Channel will be paralyzed by new customs checks, with queues of trucks likely stretching for many miles, clogging roads.
  • Fresh produce, caught in the shipping delays, will rot.
  • Tons of decomposing garbage normally shipped for processing on the continent will pile up in Britain.
  • Patients will have to go without state-of-the-art cancer diagnostics that rely on specialized radioactive materials that cannot be produced in the United Kingdom. Read more