Monday, 13 November 2017

Intransigence and flexibility

The position taken by the UK Government – that Brexit cannot be allowed to create an ‘internal’ border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK - is an entirely reasonable one for any government to take.  Even if it were not so, the reliance of the current administration on the votes of the DUP requires no movement on that question.
The desire of the same government to do nothing which unpicks the Irish peace process is an equally reasonable and sensible one; no-one in their right mind (although whether that’s a fair expectation of May and crew is a separate question) would wish to endanger the progress which has been made.  So avoiding a hard border across Ireland is an imperative for them.
And, given some of the wilder promises made by Brexiteers about freedom and independence, it’s understandable that ‘Brexit means Brexit’ requires departure from the single market and the customs union.
The problem for the UK Government is that the three positions - all in themselves reasonable and logical outcomes of the vote last year – are not concurrently achievable.  They can have any two of them, but will have to yield on the third.  It’s clearly an unpalatable choice, but it will have to be made.  Their position to date seems to consist of demanding that ‘someone else’ (i.e. the EU27) comes up with an imaginative solution of the type that they are themselves unable to either imagine or articulate, and that the other side’s unwillingness to do what they can't do themselves amounts to bully-boy tactics.  The default position - increasingly likely given the lack of any serious attempt to do otherwise – is a hard border across Ireland.  Like so much else of the 'negotiating' attempts of the UK, it's as though they are working in a vacuum, in a way which isn't going to impact on real people.


Spirit of BME said...

On the position of the border with Ireland and Britain; there are several types of boarder`s within the EU. There are the Channel Islands, San Merino, Lichtenstein and Monte Carlo, but I believe these are “hosted” by an actual member. One that is not (but I might be wrong) is the Vatican state which is recognised as a sovereign state and has all the trappings to go along with it, including up until recently, an international banking system that could be described as a “shady bank in a sunny place”.
So, the principle has been established of a no border frontier, although the geography might be different.
As for negotiations – forget it, my friends in low places tell me that Frau Merkel is in deep do- do in trying to get a government together and that two scenarios are being considered – dumping poor Mutti owing to her political baggage or calling another election next year, which would only benefit one party.

John Dixon said...

The status of what some call ´micro-states' is an interesting debate in itself. I'm not at all sure, though, that any of them are a terribly helpful precedent for a major economy like the UK. They do demonstrate that open orders are perfectly possible, and if the UK were willing to accept open borders,then the negotiation process would probably be proceeding a lot more expeditiously. The problem, however, is that 'open borders' seems to be one of the few things that the UK Government can agree that it does not want. Or rather, it wants one border to be open whilst all the rest are closed, and wants somebody else to work out ow that can be achieved.

I don't know whether your friends in low places are on the money or not; but I dont think that I'd really want to depend on them.