Tag Archives: backstop

Did the EU just reject TWO Boris Johnson requests – only one of which involved Ireland?

The European Union has refused to entertain a call by Boris Johnson for a Brexit deal without the so-called Northern Irish border “backstop”.

In so doing, one may conclude that the EU has also rejected Mr Johnson’s call for Brexit negotiations to be carried out in secret.

And quite right too.

The man This Site calls BoJob has been trying to hoodwink the British people left, right and centre since he was hired as Tory leader (and PM by default) back in July.

His latest gambit was for negotiations on a new Brexit deal to be held in secret. We may expect that he was hoping to foist the details on us at the last minute, so our Parliamentary representatives would have little choice but to accept their terms, in order to meet the October 31 deadline to which he is determined to hold us.

I’m not sure how that idea is supposed to work, as a rejection by Parliament means it’s back to the drawing-board; “no deal” is now forbidden.

At least we may take it that all cards are on the table, for the time being. Or am I mistaken?

The European Union has rejected a request from the British government for a Brexit deal without an Irish backstop.

A leaked diplomatic note drawn up by EU officials and given to member state diplomats and MEPs [stated:]

“In addition to not providing legally operational solutions, such concepts [presented by the UK] fall short of satisfying all the objectives of the backstop: avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland, protecting the all-island economy and North-South cooperation, and preserving the integrity of the single market and Ireland’s place in it,” the note says.

“It is the United Kingdom’s responsibility to come forward with legally operational solutions that are compatible with the withdrawal agreement. The union remains available to examine and discuss any such proposals.”

Source: EU rejects Boris Johnson request for Brexit deal without Irish backstop | The Independent

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Boris Johnson is risking the peace in Northern Ireland by reneging on the Good Friday Agreement, EU claims

A lorry passing an anti-Brexit placard at the Ireland-Northern Ireland border crossing in Killeen.

Boris Johnson has made a fool of himself again, it seems – by threatening the future of peace in Northern Ireland, if EU officials are to be believed.

They say he is reneging on pledges to uphold the Good Friday Agreement by failing to support moves to avoid a hard border with the Republic of Ireland.

And what clever timing that they’re saying this right before Mr Johnson is due to meet Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar!

EU bosses say the open border is not a desire or preference, but a legal obligation.

According to The Guardian,

North-south cooperation was a pillar of the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement and covers a swathe of policies such as transport, agriculture, health, education, environment and tourism.

The vast web of cooperation means, for example, that patients and ambulances can cross the border, freshwater loughs are jointly protected and Ireland’s single electricity powers millions of homes.

Since coming to office, Johnson has vowed to get rid of the backstop, a fallback plan to avoid a hard border that would see Northern Ireland maintain many EU rules, and the whole UK stay in a customs union with the EU.

[But} a UK government spokesperson firmly rejected suggestions the government was not committed to the Good Friday agreement. “We are committed to the common travel area, to upholding the rights of citizens of Northern Ireland, to ongoing north-south cooperation, to retaining the benefits of the single electricity market. We remain firmly committed to peace in Northern Ireland and the Belfast agreement.

“The Belfast/Good Friday agreement neither depends upon, nor requires a particular customs or regulatory regime. The broader commitments in the Belfast/Good Friday agreement include parity of esteem, partnership, democracy and a peaceful means of resolving differences. This would be best met if we could explore solutions other than the backstop.”

Do you believe that statement from BoJob’s spokesperson?

After all the lies we’ve had from him, dating back long before he became prime minister, do you dare to?

Source: Johnson has reneged on Good Friday agreement vows, says EU | Politics | The Guardian

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As national leaders squabble, is Ireland heading for a return of the ‘Troubles’?

Who do you believe?

Boris Johnson says the Northern Ireland border backstop must be removed from the UK’s withdrawal agreement with the EU, or there can be no agreement.

Emmanuel Macron says it must stay.

Angela Merkel says she’s keen to hear what BoJob proposes as an alternative – but he can’t leave it until the last minute.

The Irish EU commissioner says Mr Johnson is “gambling with peace”.

And a group of Conservative MPs have pointed out that the backstop isn’t the only contentious part of the withdrawal document in any event!

It seems to This Writer that the Conservative Party’s leaders have decided that they don’t like peace in Ireland and want it to stop.

Source: Macron tells Johnson Brexit backstop is indispensable | Politics | The Guardian

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Brexit: EU points out logical fallacies in Boris Johnson’s request to remove NI backstop

Pop-eyed: Is this Boris Johnson’s reaction to the EU’s latest rejection?

The European Union has rebuffed Boris Johnson again, refusing his request for them to take the Northern Ireland border backstop out of any Brexit agreement.

BoJob had called the backstop “undemocratic”, and the EU’s representatives are to be lauded for their restraint in not mentioning the most obvious inconsistency in his argument.

It is best-elaborated in this tweet, responding to James Cleverly’s repetition of Mr Johnson’s comment:

That’s right.

Mr Johnson is in no position to call anything “undemocratic” while he owes his job to a tiny minority of the voting public – and insists on denying the rest of us an opportunity to vote on his leadership.

The European Union has rebuffed Boris Johnson’s attempts to tear up the Irish backstop, in a coordinated response that appeared to close the door on further meaningful Brexit negotiations.

Officials had already strongly rejected Johnson’s claim that the backstop was anti-democratic, pointing to the fact Northern Ireland had voted to remain in the EU and non-unionist parties were in favour of the backstop.

Johnson’s claim that it would be possible for two separate legal and economic jurisdictions to exist on the island of Ireland with an open border was judged “misleading” as EU law provided “the common framework needed to enable frictionless trade between member states today”.

While the EU has said it was ready to examine alternative arrangements to the backstop, officials have stressed that no such options exist today anywhere in the world.

Source: EU rejects Boris Johnson request to remove backstop | Politics | The Guardian

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If you thought Brexit would be over and done by March 29, it’s about to get WORSE

The United Kingdom is in turmoil over Brexit. The government hasn’t got a clue; Parliament itself is divided and we are the world’s laughing-stock.

And it is going to get much worse – because all the trouble so far has been about the withdrawal agreement, which is only a part of the matter.

Years of trade negotiations are to follow – and it seems likely they will be acrimonious.

The bottleneck in Parliament at the moment is happening because backbench MPs don’t expect to have any influence on those long trade talks; if they want to have any control at all over Theresa May’s lunacy, they must make it a condition of accepting the withdrawal agreement.

Oxford University’s Simon Wren-Lewis has written informatively about this in his blog, Mainly Macro, where he states: “If May’s deal is approved we can look forward to a politics dominated by internal squabbles within the Conservative Party, and the absence of constructive negotiations with Brussels, for perhaps the next four or more years.”

This is because the withdrawal agreement does nothing to resolve internal conflicts within the Conservative Party, or conflicts within Brexit itself.

This is what the conflict over the Northern Ireland ‘backstop’ is all about, according to Professor Wren-Lewis. Its existence means part – or all – of the UK must stay inside the Customs Union, but Brextremists in the Tory Party won’t accept this because they don’t like it.

The reason they don’t like it is that it ties the UK to Europe when they want to do a trade deal with the United States at the earliest opportunity.

Prof Wren-Lewis states: “In an age where the regulations governing trade in goods and services are increasingly decided by large regional blocks, the only rationalisation of Brexit that makes any kind of sense is that we move from the EU block to the US block.”

He makes the consequences clear:

  • Weakened regulations on workers’ rights
  • Weakened regulations on the environment
  • Weakened food standards (meaning we accept chlorine-washed chicken)
  • Metamorphosis of the NHS into a US-style model of healthcare
  • And while the UK was able to influence EU decisions, it will have no say in what the US does.

I fear that people will be lulled into false security about such matters by the fact that nothing is likely to change immediately after a withdrawal agreement is approved – whenever that may be.

The UK would enter a transitional period in which we remain in the Customs Union and Single Market but have no say in either.

But the long-term consequences are devastating: A study by the Centre of Economic Performance and The UK in a Changing Europe suggests that from 2030 onwards UK GDP per capita will be lower by between 1.9 per cent and 5.5 per cent as a consequence of leaving the Single Market.

The midpoint of that range puts household losses at £3,000 every year.

In practise, the effect is likely to be worse, because of other effects not included in the model like lower foreign investment and reduced competition.

And that’s before you add in the impact of changing to a US-style economy and health service, in which household expenses are certain to increase.

There will – of course – be a large hit to the public finances, implying higher taxes or less public spending, even after allowing for an end to contributions to the EU, according to Prof Wren-Lewis.

Conservative Brextremists will benefit from all this – but I doubt that will be any consolation to you as you are plunged deeper into poverty and debt by a decision most of us didn’t want to take.

Source: mainly macro: If you enjoyed the last two years and want more of the same, vote for May’s deal


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Attorney-General confirms Vox Political’s view of new ‘backstop’ arrangements

How kind of Geoffrey Cox, the attorney-general, to confirm This Site’s appraisal of what the assurances Theresa May has brought back from Strasbourg mean.

I wrote earlier that the “joint statement” and “joint legally-binding instrument” on the Northern Irish border backstop simply delay the need for the UK to find “alternative arrangements” to the controversial stopgap protocol until December 2020, by which time Theresa May could have ceased to be prime minister. I suggested that she was trying to pass the poisoned chalice to someone else.

Today, Mr Cox has said “the legal risk remains unchanged that … the United Kingdom would have … no internationally lawful means of exiting the protocol’s arrangements, save by agreement”.

So nothing has changed, to quote Mrs May’s own infamous remarks of a few years ago.

Apparently the DUP, the Northern Irish party propping up Mrs May’s minority government, has already said it cannot back her in today’s meaningful vote, on the basis of this information.

And it is well worth remembering that the votes in Parliament today (March 12) are about much more than the backstop, as the economist Jonathan Portes points out:

He wrote: “There is no option that will resolve the cloud of uncertainty that hangs over the UK economy any time soon, and none which can credibly claim to avert the risk of substantial long-term damage. The chancellor famously claimed that ‘no one voted to be poorer’. Maybe, maybe not. But… most of our elected representatives will almost certainly – one way or the other – do just that.”

The alternative is a political crisis which may result in something even worse – or something better. All things considered, I’ll take the crisis.

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Is Theresa May’s latest fudge a bid to pass the poisoned chalice of Brexit on to somebody else?

Misery face: Theresa May wants to wash her hands of Brexit by passing the problems created by her deal onto somebody else. But MPs have an opportunity to make her try again. And again. And again…

Let’s cut through the hot air and fantasy and admit something: the “legally binding” changes to the EU deal that Theresa May just agreed at Strasbourg do not change anything.

She desperately needs to break the impasse that means she cannot get a majority in Parliament for her duff Brexit deal – otherwise the UK crashes out without any deal at all, which may be disastrous for foreign trade.

In practise, this meant finding a way around the Northern Irish border “backstop” deal, set up to ensure that goods crossing the border between that part of the UK and the Republic of Ireland continue to do so in as frictionless a way as possible.

The Democratic Unionist Party, which is propping up Mrs May’s government, has said it will not support any deal that puts Northern Ireland in a different position from the rest of the UK.

So, to try to win back that party’s support, she has secured a “joint statement” in which both the UK and EU commit to replacing the backstop with alternative arrangements by December 2020.

This is supported by a “joint legally-binding instrument” that the UK could use to prevent the EU from keeping this country tied into the backstop indefinitely.

It isn’t what Parliament told her to get.

She was told to ensure that the backstop would be replaced with “alternative arrangements” immediately, and has failed to achieve this.

Instead, the backstop will remain a part of the deal, but operating until December 2020, rather than for an unspecified period of time.

After that, it seems the UK’s government will be expected to magic up some “alternative arrangements” that haven’t been considered by now.

Mrs May is trying to kick the Brexit can down the road – possibly far enough that she won’t have to pick it up again. It seems she wants to pass the poisoned chalice to someone else.

But she won’t get the chance if Parliament sees through her ploy.

She has deliberately failed.

She deserves absolutely no support when MPs vote on her meagre offer. They should vote to extend the Article 50 “notice of intention to leave” period and order her to stop fudging and get a proper deal.

Of course, the wits of Twitter think she already achieved this:

… Although some disagree [with apologies for the profanity]:

Source: Brexit: ‘Legally binding’ changes to EU deal agreed – BBC News

Brexit Plan B wins support – but the pound crashes as May goes back to the EU with a contradiction

Theresa May must ask the EU to reopen negotiations on her Brexit agreement with a contradictory mandate from Parliament. Continue reading

No-deal Brexit seems more likely as Plan B teeters – but will there be time, even for that?

The EU is warning that the UK may tumble out of the bloc with no deal, after Theresa May proposed dropping the Northern Ireland ‘backstop’ plan and both the Irish government and her own MPs rejected it.

But there may not be time even to leave the EU with no deal, as this also requires a large amount of legislation which the Conservatives haven’t been interested in setting in motion. It seems they’ve had other things on their minds.

The UK is drifting rudderless towards a huge economic storm and it seems the only people who can do anything about it haven’t got a clue.

Theresa May presented her ‘Plan B’ to Conservative MPs on Monday afternoon (January 28). It is exactly the same as ‘Plan A’, which was defeated by a majority of 230 votes on January 15 – with one exception: the ‘backstop’ plan to keep the Northern Irish border with the Republic open will be stripped away and replaced with “alternative arrangements”.

By the time she announced it, ‘Plan B’ had already been rejected by Jacob Rees-Mogg and his European Research Group (ERG) of Tory Brextremists – altbough he seemed to be in two minds as he promptly told other Tories to back it at Mrs May’s meeting.

It turns out the ERG’s members will support the motion, which is simply that MPs have “considered” Theresa May’s next steps – because it has no meaning in law. They’re saying they won’t support any of the 14 amendments, including the one that would strip out the backstop.

Whatever they decide to do when the vote on her new plan happens at 7pm today (January 29), there are plenty of other Conservatives who are against it – Anna Soubry, Sarah Wollaston and possibly even Boris Johnson, and no doubt many others.

The next meaningful vote on Mrs May’s deal won’t happen until February 13, according to government sources.

But if the ‘backstop’ is dropped, the EU won’t accept Mrs May’s plan – according to the Irish government.

Deputy PM Simon Coveney said the backstop had been designed to accommodate Mrs May’s “red lines” – issues over which she refused to make compromises. The EU had been forced to make compromises instead, to suit her – and would not make any more.

This view seemed to be echoed by the EU’s deputy chief negotiator, Sabine Weyand, who said other options had been extensively discussed in previous negotiations.

This meant that, even if the “alternative arrangements” idea won the approval of the UK’s Parliament, it would never win the support it needs in Brussels.

And that means we could end up with no deal at all between the UK and the EU.

Now get ready for the sting in this tale:

There are currently fewer than 30 sitting days available for Parliament to push through the legislation needed for Brexit to happen on March 29 – no less than nine Parliamentary Bills and 600 pieces of associated legislation.

Given the inertia that has gripped Parliament on this issue since negotiations began, we can draw only one conclusion:

It can’t be done.

The only alternatives are to cancel half-term and Fridays… and to delay Brexit beyond March 29.

Even then, given the fact that it seems nobody can come to any terms at all makes any such exercise seem pointless.

And this should surprise nobody. I read a piece on the social media earlier, which proposed a way of explaining the difficulties of Brexit to children. It’s like 28 youngsters pooling all their Lego and then using them to build all kinds of multi-coloured things – and then one child deciding to leave, taking their Lego with them: the blue pieces.

Mrs May has delayed so long that it will be impossible to carry out the detailed work that would secure our blue pieces for us in the time that remains.

She has wasted everybody’s time, jeopardised the economy and the livelihoods of millions of people, ruined the UK’s reputation internationally and done who-knows-how-much more damage, for no reason at all.

We’re just counting down the time until everybody realises that.

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Crazy: Theresa May thinks she can hold us to ransom over Brexit

Cognitive dissonance: Theresa May is acting as though her historic defeat last week never happened.

The latest stage of the slow-motion Brexit train crash has unfolded in Parliament, with Theresa May promising the Earth if only MPs will support her abysmal “deal”.

If her plan passes Parliament, she tells us, she will involve MPs, business groups and unions in the next phase of negotiations. Not only that, but she has guaranteed to strengthen workers’ rights and environmental protections post-Brexit.

Oh, and she’ll do something about the Northern Irish backstop – but it seems clear that she has no idea what that will be. She hasn’t said anything about amending the Good Friday Agreement or doing a bilateral deal with the Irish government, so it seems clear that the stories about them in the press over the weekend were fake news.

But then, it’s all a pack of lies, isn’t it?

Once she gets what she wants, she’ll do what she likes.

That is the lesson of the damp-squib attempt at a Tory rebellion in June last year, when Mrs May promised the Earth to 14 Conservatives who were threatening to vote against her Brexit plan at that time.

As soon as she had secured their support and won the vote, the government issued a statement saying, “We have not, and will not, agree to the House of Commons binding the Government’s hands in the negotiations.”

Mrs May lied then and you can bet she’s lying now.

And that’s at least one reason you can’t trust what she’s saying about calls for a second referendum.

Labour has submitted an amendment to Mrs May’s Brexit update, calling for a vote on its alternative plan – or on a new referendum on a Brexit deal or proposal that manages to gain majority support in the House of Commons.

If you’re still living under a false impression that Labour doesn’t have a Brexit proposal, you’ve probably been misinformed by the Tory press, or by a Tory stooge on the radio or TV. For clarity: Labour proposes that the UK remain in a post-Brexit customs union with the EU and maintains a strong relationship with the single market. Citizens’ rights and consumer standards would be harmonised with the EU’s.

The question of the Northern Irish border would not arise as the border would remain open.

One aspect on which I’m not sure is whether Labour wants MPs to vote on a Brexit plan and carry it through, or to vote on a Brexit plan and then take it to the public in a new referendum with the other option being remaining in the EU.

It seems clear that neither option is supported by Mrs May.

She’s still saying the choice will be between her mess of a deal and “no deal”, and won’t accept any other proposals.

As for a second referendum, she seems to support the contradictory view that denying people a chance to vote is somehow upholding democracy.

Yes, we had a vote in 2016. The result was heavily influenced by extravagant claims that turned out to be lies, and by investment in the various campaign groups by foreign powers that had no right to be involved.

And now a significant number of people who were too young to vote at the time have joined the electoral register, replacing people who did vote but have since died. Don’t they get a say in a matter that will affect the course of their entire lives?

Not according to Mrs May. She said: “A second referendum could damage social cohesion by undermining faith in our democracy.”

You might consider that to be another lie.

A spokesperson later stated: “There is a covenant of trust between the electorate and the government of the day and the PM’s firm belief is that it is the government’s duty to act on clearly expressed wishes of the electorate and, obviously, were that not to happen, that wouldn’t be, and shouldn’t be, without consequence.”

The government of the day was, of course, David Cameron’s government of 2015-16 – not Theresa May’s government of 2017 onwards (or even her government of 2016-17); the change at the top meant a change of direction. No government can be bound by the actions of its predecessor, nor can we be expected to assume that Mrs May has done exactly as Mr Cameron would have, had he stayed in his position rather than trotting off to the continent like a squealing pig.

She’s pushing her personal Brexit at the rest of us because that is what she, personally, wants to do. It has nothing to do with democracy.

But Parliament has a chance to change all that – and, given the evidence of recent events, it seems Parliament may embrace such a change. Mrs May must be shown she cannot hold us to ransom.

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