Tag Archives: Ireland

Tory Hoare branded a ‘coward’ for plan to abstain on Bill that threatens peace in Northern Ireland

Should it say or should it go? “Northern Ireland voted to stay in the European Union, and the Good Friday Agreement demands that its border with the Republic of Ireland be kept open. Brexit would make that impossible without the conditions in the EU Withdrawal Agreement that provide the province with a special status. But the Internal Market Bill illegally overwrites those conditions.” Isn’t Boris Johnson pushing NI towards re-integration with the Republic?

The Conservative chairman of the Commons Northern Ireland select committee is currently taking a drubbing on Twitter after he announced he will abstain on the Third Reading of the Internal Market Bill that threatens the peace there, rather than opposing it outright.

Simon Hoare tweeted that information from the US Congress that its members would not permit any free trade agreements with the United Kingdom. He seemed to believe that this was justification for him to abstain, rather than oppose the Bill that breaks international law by overruling the EU Withdrawal Agreement on trade borders around NI.

Northern Ireland voted to stay in the European Union, and the Good Friday Agreement demands that its border with the Republic of Ireland be kept open. Brexit would make that impossible without the conditions in the EU Withdrawal Agreement that provide the province with a special status. But the Internal Market Bill illegally overwrites those conditions.

In abstaining on the Bill, Hoare is effectively saying that he does not want to express an opinion on it – even though he knows it will be harmful to peace in Northern Ireland, and to the Union. It is the position of a coward who is afraid to take a stand when his bosses do the wrong thing.

Even if he really didn’t know that, he is being told it in no uncertain terms:

If he does abstain, Spineless Simon should be ashamed to call himself a human being.

I wonder how many Conservatives will follow his example – doing just enough to salve their miniscule consciences without actually stopping the Bill?

Abstention means allowing Boris Johnson to break international law.

And it means an end to peace in Northern Ireland.

When violence breaks out again, after Johnson does whatever he’s planning to do to the Northern Ireland border, Simon Hoare and all other Tory abstainers will be responsible.

But then we know from past experience that Tories are perfectly comfortable to sit in Parliament with blood dripping from their hands.

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Johnson’s first Attorney General condemns his plan to betray EU withdrawal agreement

Geoffrey Cox: the former Attorney General is pointing the finger of accusation at Boris Johnson.

That’s scuppered the claims that the row over Boris Johnson’s plan to break international law is a last gasp of the so-called ‘Remainers’, then.

Geoffrey Cox – a devout Brexiter – was Attorney General when Boris Johnson signed his EU withdrawal agreement in January.

His announcement that he will not support Johnson’s Internal Markets Bill is proof that the controversy extends much further than the established battle lines.

The story broke in The Times, which is behind a paywall. However, the East Fife Times has this:

Boris Johnson’s former attorney general, Geoffrey Cox, has said it would be “unconscionable” to override the Brexit divorce deal.

The Tory MP said there is “no doubt” the “unpalatable” implications of the Withdrawal Agreement were known when the Prime Minister signed it, a time when Mr Cox was the chief law officer.

So he should know!

He stated:

And he threatened worse:

The Brexiteer warned he would not back the UK Internal Market Bill unless ministers dispel the impression they plan to “permanently and unilaterally” rewrite an international agreement.

[He] said tariffs and customs procedures on certain goods entering Northern Ireland from Britain were part of the deal.

“There can be no doubt that these were the known, unpalatable but inescapable, implications of the agreement,” he wrote in The Times.

He said if the powers in the Bill were used to “nullify those perfectly plain and foreseeable consequences” then it would amount to the “unilateral abrogation of the treaty obligations”

Cox said ministers could use “clear and lawful” options under the withdrawal agreement to remedy their concerns that food imports may be blocked from Britain to Northern Ireland – or, “in extremis”, take “temporary and proportionate measures” via independent arbitration.

“What ministers should not do, however provoked or frustrated they may feel about an impasse in negotiations, is to take or use powers permanently and unilaterally to rewrite portions of an international agreement into which this country freely entered just a few months ago,” he said.

It seems he also said this:

But the article also points out:

The QC… was attorney general during the unlawful suspension of Parliament.

That’s right; Boris Johnson prorogued Parliament illegally – and lied to the Queen in order to do it.

It seems Cox has had enough of such illegalities – and his words carry weight on the Conservative benches in the House of Commons.

They are also carrying weight on the social media:

Johnson and his people are desperately trying to play down the implications of their plan, but nobody is being fooled.

There may be more than verbal fireworks in the political news this week.

Source: Ex-attorney general strikes out at ‘unconscionable’ plan to override Brexit deal | Central Fife Times

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Bone-head: Tory Brexiteer humiliates himself in Newsnight interview

Peter Bone: he appears to be auditioning for a role as the Ghost of Brexit Yet to Come.

Peter Bone made a name for himself as an annoyance to David Cameron during Prime Minister’s Questions, back between 2010 and 2016.

Now it seems he is embarking on a new career as an embarrassment to the whole Conservative Party.

That was certainly the effect of his Newsnight interview on September 11.

Watch it for yourself:

If your head is spinning after listening to all that self-justifying waffle, I’ve found some handy comments to clear up what he was saying and why it is tripe:

(I think maybe some of these commenters were a bit “tired and emotional” when they were typing these messages. @elisled2, above, probably meant a “waiting” game, rather than a “whiting” game, whatever that may be.)

Well, not all of the comments made sense of what he was saying…

Needless to say, his performance prompted criticism of its own:

Perhaps the best summary came from a parody account:

I’m sure some people supported what he had to say – sad, misled people.

But it seems clear that most of the UK is sick of him, of his party, and of their constant failures.

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Brexiteers’ justification for breaking international law on Brexit is illiterate. Why hasn’t Braverman resigned?

Suella Braverman: She used to chair a secret group of Brexit-supporting MPs and is now Attorney General. Yes, she is as daft as she looks.

In trying to humiliate a leading Remainer – and justify its own contempt for international law – Boris Johnson and his government have made the UK a laughing-stock once again.

And our Attorney General, Suella Braverman, should be offering up her resignation. Rather than uphold the rule of law, she has sided with a government that intends to break it, turning the UK into nothing better than a rogue state.

Almost as bad, she offered as justification for this lawbreaking a Supreme Court ruling that Parliament is sovereign in domestic matters – a ruling won by Remain campaigner Gina Miller in a challenge to previous Brexit legislation.

But the same Supreme Court ruling made it clear that this does not excuse the UK government from honouring its obligations under international law.

Here’s Braverman’s statement, as exulted by Brexiteers. I’ve found a more level-headed response to it:

What is the appropriate response? This:

Perhaps. This:

Mmm… How about two in-depth Twitter threads? First this:

(After that lesson in the law, I think the Secret Barrister may be allowed to advertise a book about it.)

And then there’s this:

It is not for members of the public to challenge this.

I have a feeling that the Tory government will face serious and well-funded legal challenges both from within the UK and outside.

I am concerned that this will lead to an equally serious financial penalty – a bill that, once again, the taxpayer will have to pay.

We always end up bailing out these incompetent Tories when we should be sending them to jail instead.

Last word goes to Mark Elliott (again):

It is par for the course in a government that is as bent as a nine-bob note.

But Suella Braverman’s resignation is definitely required.

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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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Boris Johnson on Varadkar: ‘Why isn’t he called Murphy like all the rest of them’

Boris Johnson: Last time, his comments on London Pride were undermined because he called gay men “tank-top wearing bum boys”. Previously, he was berated for calling the French “turds”. Now this.

This reminds me of a meme I just saw on Facebook, regarding the claims Conservatives have made before becoming prime minister.

So David Cameron said: “Vote for me to prevent a Labour government causing chaos!” And then he caused chaos.

Theresa May said: “Vote for me to prevent a Labour government causing chaos!” And then he caused chaos.

And now Boris Johnson is saying: “Vote for me to prevent a Labour government causing chaos!” But he isn’t waiting to win the election.

He’s causing chaos already.

Mr Johnson intends an early European tour if, as is likely, he wins the ballot for the Conservative leadership. Paris, Berlin and Dublin are on the list. He may encounter some bumps along the way.

His long record of mendacity and an infantile habit of comparing the EU to Nazi Germany have not created a reservoir of trust among other European leaders. They are unimpressed by his “do-or-die” threat of a no-deal Brexit. Mr Johnson’s crude English exceptionalism is even less endearing.

At the Foreign Office he was heard to muse as to whether Chancellor Angela Merkel had served in East Germany’s Stasi secret police. French president Emmanuel Macron was a “jumped-up Napoleon”. As for Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, “Why isn’t he called Murphy like all the rest of them”.

Source: Boris Johnson on Varadkar: ‘Why isn’t he called Murphy like all the rest of them’

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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

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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If this is Mrs May’s plan to beat the Irish ‘backstop’ impasse, it’s already dead in the water

Leo Varadkar and Theresa May: They both know it would be easier to do a bilateral deal – but that simply isn’t how Brexit is being done.

It would be typical of a Tory – when they can’t get what they want by following the rules, they ignore the rules altogether.

Theresa May knows the UK cannot negotiate a bilateral deal with any of the EU27 nations, just to suit herself; the UK is dealing with the whole bloc, or with nobody.

But that hasn’t worked for her, so we’re being told she’s going cap in hand to the Republic of Ireland:

https://twitter.com/NinaDSchick/status/1086894551225303043

Bear in mind, this is from The Times, a newspaper that claimed membership of the Labour Party has plummeted by something like 150,000, when in fact Labour membership is continuing to rise.

And sure enough, it seems this is more wishful thinking, to judge by coverage in the Independent.

That paper stated: “A Downing Street source said talk of a bilateral agreement with Ireland was ‘not something we recognise’.

“Ms May will update the Commons on Monday on how she plans to proceed.”

And we’ll see whether Downing Street recognises anything different at that time.

But the message seems clear:

And here’s the word from Ireland:

So: Both Downing Street and the Irish government say a bilateral agreement isn’t on the cards, and it wold be illegal in any case.

But Mrs May won’t be able to get her Brexit deal past the DUP and many of her own Tory MPs without an undertaking to keep the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic open.

It seems Mrs May would have better spent the last week talking to herself. Some may say that’s what she’s been doing.

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Irish minister claims EU will be happy to consider new deal – but Brexit would be delayed

This will come as a bit of a surprise to some Twitter users. I was discussing the Brexit deal with them as follows:

Oh, really?

If Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney knows what he’s saying – and he should – then the EU will be delighted to discuss a new Brexit proposal with the UK.

And the bloc will be happy to accept a suspension or temporary revocation of Article 50 – that sets the date of the UK’s departure at March 29 – while discussions take place.

According to the BBC: “Brexit may have to be delayed if the UK submits an “entirely new” proposal on its withdrawal from the EU, the Irish foreign affairs minister has said.

“Speaking to Irish national broadcaster RTÉ, Simon Coveney said the UK may have to rescind its Brexit notification “for the moment” if that happened.

“Mr Coveney said if there was a new proposal “undoubtedly it would need a lot more time to be considered on the EU side”.

“”That would probably involve an extension of Article 50 or pulling Article 50 for the moment,” he said.”

He acknowledged that the EU has said it will not carry out any further negotiation on Theresa May’s current Brexit deal, though – and admitted that Mrs May doesn’t want to put a different deal on the table.

Still, it seems “iVoted4Corbyn” was justified in tweeting: “Glad the EU have now confirmed what Jeremy Corbyn has argued all along. The EU are happy & willing to open entirely new negotiations on a completely different Brexit Package, such as the one proposed by Labour.”

It’ll take much more than that to satisfy some people, of course – who have an ideological commitment to the immutability of the current situation.

I wonder how my new Twitter acquaintances will take this development.

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