Sunday, December 03, 2017


Mrs May playing EU roulette
Click on any image for a larger version

This is intended to be an organic blog post, by which I mean I will add to it and amend it as time goes by. The later segments are at the top of the post starting immediately below here. So you might be best reading from the bottom up, if you have the patience or the motivation.

2 September 2018

Waiting for Godot

Well, a bit like the last time, not a lot has been happening in terms of progress on Brexit, in the sense of knowing what it's going to be about, assuming it happens, and preparations for a hard brexit if it does without a withdrawal agreement and a firm purpose of something or other.

The main thing that has been happening is that the clock is ticking relentlessly, as they do other than at crisis EU Summits when it can apparently be stopped in its tracks like the Fatima sun.

I suppose we not only appear no nearer a solution/settlement but in reality things have got a bit worse.

Divide et Impera

So far, Theresa May has failed to charm EU leaders into breaking ranks on their resolve to maintain the integrity of the European project come what may (sic). We'll just have to see what happens when it goes to the wire.

Squabbling Paddies

The British have made it clear that they don't give a hoot about Northern Ireland as such in the wider context of the self-harm which is brexit. We are almost back in the days when the North could be left to sink or swim while Westminster's "bodhar Uí Laoghaire" precluded it from interfering in the régime's "internal affairs".

If you want to follow up on this here's a good piece to get you thinking.


Looked at another way, hostility to the Irish is hotting up across the water. Jacob Rees Mogg is to the fore here, denigrating us at every turn. And who or what is this guy you might ask? I have seen him described as a rural MP whose father was famous. But he clearly has Theresa May worried as he has assumed the mantle of spokesman for the brexiteers.

He threatens to open up the UK's (trade !) borders and leave it to Ireland to introduce border controls if it wants to. Of course the border with Northern Ireland becomes an external border of the EU when the UK leaves and someone has to man it in the event of a hard brexit which seems to be what he wants. The wonder is he hasn't yet compared us to Planet of the Apes. Those particular apes are probably too intelligent?

Rhythm & Blues Party

At last, Ireland looks like having its own Brexit-type political party, the Rhythm & Blues Party - rhythm denoting a timely Irish withdrawal from EU and blues denoting the grief to follow. Mind you there will be nearly as much grief for us staying in the EU in the face of a hard brexit. Anyway they are calling themselves the Irexit Freedom Party and are led by Ray Bassett, a former Irish ambassador; and Ray Kinsella, a UCD professor. Hermann Kelly, a former journalist and now head of communications at the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy group of MEPs in Brussels, will be the party’s spokesman.

It remains to be seen how they do, particularly when the implications for Ireland of a hard brexit surface in the public domain. There has, unfortunately been a lack of intelligent and informed debate here on the pros and cons of Irish EU membership over the years. We joined with the Brits with very little choice in the matter and our membership was marketed to the public on the basis of Paddy Hillery's CAP and the long runs and support sustained through our (very) net beneficiary status. Now the UK may be (very) out and we are net contributors to the budget. We are neither emotionally nor intellectually prepared to deal with this. So wait for the sparks and the debate descending into nasty ad hominem if the new party looks like getting any traction.

Dublin time, Trump time

To finish today on a lighter note. I have alluded elsewhere to historical Dublin time, following a visit to Galway city way back. Well it may well be back in the news again after brexit. The EU is thinking of abolishing the annual clock change, in which direction I'm not sure. But, anyway, this would put us out of synch with the UK for half of each year, assuming they didn't follow suit.

It could, of course, get a lot worse, if, as part of one of genius Liam Fox's trade deals the UK went over to EST, and I don't mean European Standard Time.

In the course of my work I have dealt with the Bretton Woods Institutions in Washington - IMF & World Bank. And believe you me, it is very frustrating. You can't get them in the morning and just as you are about to go to lunch they come on stream and you get caught up in their preparations for their afternoon board meetings. And then if the issue is critical you are expected to, or sometimes need to be around for backup and the outcome. Imagine this scenario intruding across all of our dealing with the UK, including Northern Ireland.

And to top it all, the lazy bastards would be getting a five hour lie in, every morning.

2 July 2018

I'm really thinking hard, trying to find something new to say, but largely to no avail.

The only development beyond what I have set out below is that the UK Cabinet is now even more openly divided than before; the Lords took a positive stand, as far as it goes, but the Commons have buckled and passed a Withdrawal Bill. I don't know what's in it, but it's probably irrelevant.

The message is that disaster looms even closer as the moral depravity of the Cabinnet and the incompetence of the UK Government is embarrassingly revealed for all to see.

How ever did they run an Empire? Well, we are learning more by the day about the violence and incompetence, not to mention the greedy resource extraction, of this particular project. Not one to hark back to I'm afraid.

6 February 2018

I'm really not sure why I'm adding this latest entry, as nothing much has changed, though time is quickly running out. I reread the stuff below and it still all seems valid. I suppose the only development is that the "negotiations" have moved on to Phase 2 which is to firm up the "agreement" at the end of Phase 1 into a legal document and also to agree on a transition period to follow UK withdrawal.

What sounds like some minimal progress is, however, illusory as the UK have been negotiating in bad faith and the "agreement" is not worth the paper it's written on. It is being clawed back by the day and as a result a hard border looms. The UK's divided government still seems to think it is in a bubble where it can pull all the strings and Johnny Foreigner will do as he is told.

The only thing that surprises me is that the UK, in boasting about how its new (to be found) freedom will permit it to enter into blissful trade agreements with all and sundry, is not factoring in its loss of (i) its trade agreement (customs union and single market) with the EU but also (ii) all those trade agreements between the EU and third parties from which it benefits at present through its EU membership.

The picture below sums up where I think we're at and it looks like these idiots are going to pull us down along with them.

3 December 2017

A month is a long time in this game. But it appears that the divorce bill is nearing a settlement though there is reputed to be still some way to go on citizens' mutual rights.

The Irish question, however, remains as intractable as ever. This is because there is effectively no solution which can satisfy the requirements of the three parties concerned, UK, Ireland and EU.

With the deadline approaching fast for a decision on progressing to Phase 2 of the negotiations there appears to be no conceivable progress in sight.

Boris has a plan

As far as the UK is concerned, their position on this issue appears to be hardening, if anything. The Brexiteers are fearing a fudge which will amount to less than completely leaving the EU (replicating the customs-union/single-market, accepting any significant role for the ECJ, etc.). The rhetoric is ramping up with the Brexiteers particularly blaming the EU (which is seen to be acting punitively) or the Irish (who are getting above themselves).

The EU claim they are standing foursquare behind the Irish but how far this suupport will extend if the Irish question remains a stumbling block is not clear.

Ireland appears to have two shots at a veto on the negotiations. The first of these is on progress to Phase 2, and this is where the EU is loudly proclaiming its support for the Irish position whatever that may turn out to be. Clearly Ireland is the Member State most exposed to Brexit. In terms of trade alone we are hugely dependent on the UK, not just for our trading with them but for our trading through them (transit).

It is hard to see how our trade will not be dealt a body blow unless the UK remains in the customs union or replicates it from the outside. The UK appears committed not to do either. Given this stance, the talk so far has concentrated on how border crossings can be smoothed, even to the extent of mutterings about "frictionless" borders. Granted there may be scope for arrangements expediting border crossings but they will still involve delays and more bureaucracy.

But sight appears to have been lost of the actual effect of the borders, disparity in customs duties and in standards, particularly in relation to their effects on production and on competitiveness and therefore on trade patterns. The upcoming disruption and devastation seems to me to be enormous and unavoidable unless some side caves in.

Ireland, in particular, is between a rock and a hard place. If we exercise the veto on progress to the next stage of the negotiations we only increase the chances of the UK crashing out of the EU without arrangements on trade and this would not be to our advantage. In fact, and the Brexiteers seem blind to this, Ireland's interest lies in the softest and most advantageous exit for the UK from the EU.

The EU, nevertheless, needs to maintain the integrity of the customs union and the single market if it, itself, is to survive Brexit. That's why I'm not sure how long their solidarity with us will last in the face of UK intransigence.

And finally there is the particular subset of Northern Ireland which, at the moment seems to have escalated to the status of the main, if not the only problem. Brexit will have a horrendous impact on both North and South unless the relationship between these two areas is given some sort of special status and it is difficult to see how this can happen without affecting the North's position within the UK and/or subverting the integrity of the customs-union/single-market.

So what is likely to happen in the next few days/weeks. My guess is a pious fudge which Ireland will swallow to avoid something worse (ie UK crashing out of EU or Ireland losing the support of the other 26). When push comes to shove Ireland is very exposed and we are not unmindful of the lack of EU solidarity in the financial crisis when the immediate interests of some of the big players was threatened.

And when all is said and done at the level of the European Council, there is still the European Parliament to consider and the eventual ratification process in the 27 Member States where each, including Ireland, will have a veto [?], and in the UK House of Commons (& House of Lords?).

It's more than Mayo that'll need God's help here.

4 November 2017 (original post)

The most important point for me is that it is the UK that decided to leave the EU. In my view it is an act of unprecedented folly but it is something they are doing to themselves and it is no use their blaming Johnny Foreigner or anyone else. It is an act of self-harm.

But it is not just self-harm, it is detrimental to the EU itself for a variety of reasons and it puts Ireland in an impossible position.

Boris Johnson - traitor and lunatic

It is very difficult to see a rational reason for the UK decision and it is becoming clearer by the day that they had no idea of the implications of leaving the EU.

A major part of their legal and social infrastructure and practice has developed over the last forty years inextricably bound up with the EU and the act of separation has much in common with separating siamese twins.

Why have I a picture of Boris Johnson here looking like a certifiable lunatic. Well, Boris encapsulates the decades long campaign in the UK denigrating the EU. He was not alone. Much of the British popular press contributed mightily to this and the net result was that much, if not a majority, of the British population came to see the EU as the cause of most of their woes.

It didn't help that Britain was in the throes of a nervous breakdown, refusing to come to terms with its reduced status in the world. The British seem to still see themselves as an Empire, of some sort or other, and a major actor on the world stage. At the same time we have senior US administration figures telling us that the "special relationship", in which the British put so much store to guarantee their pre-eminent position in world affairs, is nothing more than a joke.

The people have been sold a pup by an ambitious clique who are either delusional or just plain greedy for power at any cost, even if it just involves promotion to captain of a sinking ship.

Chancellor Hammond to confront &
not appease "the enemy" this time round

It appears that the time-critical negotiations with the EU are going nowhere fast. It seems to me that this is because UK demands/aims are contradictory. They don't compute.

They want to leave the Single Market and the Customs Union but they want a new cherry picked single market and customs union. They want to leave the 27 to pick up the tabs on what was agreed by the 28, including walking away from all contingent liabilities such as their share of pension contributions for EU employees.

They want to deny the European Court of Justice any say in policing whatever is agreed, if anything. And they want full control over their own borders.

On top of all this, they seem to think that once they have agreed on some demand or other among themselves then Johnny Foreigner is being completely unreasonable not to give it to them.

Chancellor Hammond is now calling the EU the enemy. Next he'll be conjuring up the ghost of Bomber Harris. This is insanity of a high order.

And I haven't even mentioned Euratom.

Mrs May read off the altar

It is very hard to see why at least two of the phase 1 negotiating issues cannot be sorted to everyone's satisfaction in jig time. These are the reciprocal rights of citizens and the contribution required of the UK to honour its obligations.

The Irish question is another matter. There are actually two questions here - the north/south and the east/west elements. The north/south element particularly concerns the border and trade but also citizenship arrangements. The east/west element includes Ireland's trade with Britain/UK but also Ireland's trade within the EU, much of which transits through the UK.

It seems to me that in this intractable situation, no exit is better than a bad exit, and it is in the interest of both the UK and the EU that she remain.

It is/was reported that David Davis was flying to Brussels to kick EU ass ... what? ... oh, sorry ... kick start EU negotiations. See how confusing it gets?

And here's a little doodle poem to confuse you even more.

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