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Ireland, Boris Johnson, & EU face critical “backstop” decision (Video)

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss Boris Johnson’s hard-Brexit scenario which means that Britain leaves the EU’s single market and customs union, without a transition time period, placing into effect a hard border between EU member state, the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is currently under British jurisdiction.

Such a hard border could collapse the economies of Ireland and the North of Ireland, which rely heavily on a free flow of trade between a borderless zone.

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“Ireland needs to prepare for a border poll & plan for reunification; the alternative could be chaos,” authored by Danielle Ryan via RT…

With Boris Johnson laser-focused on delivering a crash-out, no-deal Brexit in October, Ireland needs to stop the foot-dragging and wishful thinking and begin preparing for a border poll and potential reunification.

This week, a report by a major UK business group called for the UK, Irish and EU leaders to hold emergency talks in Belfast in the event of a no-deal Brexit — but Dublin needs to be doing more than talking about temporary solutions and short-term contingency plans.

After two years of non-stop Brexit chaos, we all know how embarking on major constitutional change without adequate planning and preparation ends up…and it’s not pretty. Whether it happens sooner or later, there will be a border poll on the question of reunification — and we will fail to prepare for that day at our peril.

In the absence of the “backstop” (part of the Brexit deal which Johnson rejects) to maintain “regulatory alignment” between north and south post-Brexit, the PM and his unionist pals in Belfast have repeatedly promised that a mysterious technological solution exists to ensure an open, frictionless border is maintained in Ireland — and yet, they have failed to produce any viable plan of action.

It is typically referred to as the “Irish border” problem, but this is really a “British border” in Ireland, existing only because of Britain’s colonial partitioning of the island. Anyway, following a no-deal Brexit, some kind of border checks will be necessary along that unnatural dividing line.

Hence, the calls for a “border poll” — a provision of the Good Friday Agreement, which would see a referendum on Irish unity take place on both sides of the border.

Sinn Féin, the Irish republican party most ardently pushing for reunification, has already called for a unity vote to follow a no-deal scenario. Party leader Mary Lou McDonald said this week such a situation would represent a “dramatic change of circumstances” for Ireland, north and south, and it must be given the “opportunity to decide” on its future together.

She is right, but Johnson and the Tories naturally have no interest in entertaining any talk of Irish unity, despite the fact that the GFA calls for London to exercise its power in Northern Ireland with “rigorous impartiality” in acknowledgement that changes in its constitutional status can be made only by the people of Ireland.

Despite Johnson’s laughable claim this week that he is committed to this principle of neutrality, McDonald isn’t convinced: “We’ve told him that nobody believes that. Nobody believes that because there are no grounds to believe that there is any kind of impartiality, much less strict impartiality.”

Under the GFA, a vote should be held “if it any time it appears likely” to the Secretary of State for NI “that a majority of those voting would express a wish that Northern Ireland should cease to be part of the United Kingdom and form part of a united Ireland.”

It will be the job of Irish nationalists to convince the secretary, who answers to the PM in London, that the conditions are right for a vote. Currently, that person is Julian Smith, who arrived on the scene after his wildly incompetent predecessor got the sack last week — and so far, he doesn’t seem to be much better. He has already irked many, having tweeted out a photograph of the British monarch perched on the mantlepiece in his office.

Polls in the south have shown a clear majority in favor of reunification. In the north, the situation is obviously less clear and results tend to vary — but some surveys have shown increased support for unity in a no-deal scenario (like Scotland, Northern Ireland voted against Brexit).

Slowly but surely, even some more moderate members of the unionist community in the north have begun to see unity with Dublin as a better option than sticking with London, where decisions about their future are made with reckless abandon.

More than two years ago, Fianna Fáil, the party propping up Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s Fine Gael government, promised that it was working on a white paper which would detail its 12-point plan for a united Ireland. We have not heard tell of it since — and here we are, two months away from a potential crash-out Brexit.

It’s not going to happen the morning after October 31st, but there will come a day when London simply can’t ignore the calls for a border poll any longer — and Smith or his replacement will be forced to concede the time is right.

Whether that happens one year or five years from now, Dublin needs to get real and get the ball rolling. Preparing for a united Ireland will be a long, arduous and highly sensitive process, fraught with division and even the risk of a return to violence.

There are too many contentious issues to deal with to continue putting this on the backburner. It won’t just be a matter of figuring out the economic costs and benefits, or dealing with the nightmarish logistics of joining two completely different regulatory frameworks into a new, functioning state.

It will involve renewed and gargantuan efforts at trust-building between the two communities in the north and indeed between those communities and the Dublin government. Both sides will need to grapple with broader philosophical questions, too; there has been reluctant talk about the possibility of a new flag and national anthem, for example.

There have also been calls for the beginning of an all-island forum on the issue of re-unification and they should be heeded. This is not something we can wander into blind.

Without proper preparation, trying to negotiate a new united Ireland in the event of a successful vote for re-unification could end up making Brexit negotiations look like a piece of cake.

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AndreDavid A PalmerandrewJane KarlssonCudwieser Recent comment authors
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Hugh Evans
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Hugh Evans

This is the first clear explanation of the backstop issue I have ever heard articulated! Well done. When the Good Friday agreement was put in place it was a tacit back door change to the constitutional relationship between the United Kingdom, and the Republic of Ireland, done without the necessary formal procedures for constitutional change. It was all a constitutional fudge to give people what they wanted, the end of violence and to get back to a semi normal life. In fact it is a tepid partial reunification of Ireland north and south, attempting to please all sides without rattling… Read more »

Much Ado
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Much Ado

Well, let’s see. What are the probable consequences at play? Northern Ireland and Ireland are finally united. Scotland secedes from the UK. The UK and US sign a landmark trade deal to exchange underwear. I’d say, job well done. 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Jane Karlsson
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Jane Karlsson

Will a Hard Brexit Lead to a Hard Border? WTO Law and the Backstop
http://dcubrexitinstitute.eu/2018/10/will-a-hard-brexit-lead-to-a-hard-border-wto-law-and-the-backstop/

“Absent an agreement between the two blocs, goods crossing the North/South Irish border or arriving by sea or air will be subject to EU customs duties, VAT and excise duties, as well as EU rules of origin, EU product safety and quality standards, EU sanitary requirements for live animals and products of animal origin and EU environmental protection and animal welfare rules. By the same token, the UK will have to apply its MFN duties and border controls on goods coming from the EU.”

Jane Karlsson
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Jane Karlsson

Here is some more from the article I linked. A no-deal Brexit means a hard border, and it isn’t the EU dictating this, it’s WTO law. ” .. some Brexiteers within the Conservative Party have repeatedly argued that in the event of a hard Brexit, the UK will unilaterally decide to leave the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland open. …. In such scenario, the Irish government would be responsible for imposing a hard border between the South and the North. …. Without a EU-UK deal, WTO law will govern the relationships between the two blocs ….The pivotal non-discrimination obligation… Read more »

Rodney Atkinson
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There is a border now. Goods are checked because taxes are different and passports can be requested at the border. It was the UK EU “Withdrawal” Agreement which Boris Johnson’s rightly rejects which broke the terms of the Belfast Agreement.

Paddy Jameson Power
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Paddy Jameson Power

As someone who has lived all my life in Dublin – – 76 years, I’d like to know what’s wrong with returning to the pre EEC position between Britain and Ireland. There were no long queues at the NI border and customs at ports were at a minimum. Ireland got on, even if it was alone, so why can’t we do it again as members of the EU?

cudwieser
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cudwieser

Technically we can. The only reason for borders before were for security (I’ll tell you a funny story in a moment) due to the nationalist threat to the crown (still exists by the way), but even then the border was cosmetic. The more significant borders were at the heads of some streets and in shops with the pat downs. Many put up with it since it wasn’t the worst and the real fight was corruption (still is) and persecution. Other than that the border really was minor, a case ephasised by my father (god rest him) who travelled across the… Read more »

TEP
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TEP

Only the die-hard older unionists still cling to the UK, with the younger generation and even moderate older unionists gradually realising that their future is within a more prosperous united Ireland rather than being kept in relative poverty by a government in England that rarely cares.

Short of some MI6 false flags to stir up a unionist wave, a border poll is already close to securing a united Ireland.
https://www.fort-russ.com/2019/07/329-years-after-defeat-at-the-battle-of-the-boyne-a-united-ireland-approaches/

Cudwieser
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Cudwieser

You might be surprised. The same argument applies among moderate nationalists who have no favour for the current parliment in the south. They aren’t eager to jump ship even if they want to be out from the yoke of westminster. ROI aren’t any keener to see us rich and we would be the poor cousin up north. Until NI has an economy of it’s own we’ll be no better of regardless our paymasters.

andrew
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andrew

This seems to be a negotiating tactic, forcing the EU to talk and compromise on this and other matters. What Team GB has done is to take the hand grenade lobbed by the EU and GB and lobbed it back to the EU.

David A Palmer
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David A Palmer

Boris is the FIRST person to start his negotiations in the correct way! 100% Right. Ignore the 4th Reich until the 28 Countries with a LOT to lose start squealing, French Champagne 50%+ comes to the UK, BMW/Mercedes/VW/Audi – Germany last year exported 769,000 cars to the UK, its single largest export market (USA was second), Citroen/Peugeot/Renault, Peugeot, (about 250,000 cars between them). French Farmers and their lifestyles being REALLY CAPped! The EU is falling apart, will be bankrupt without UK £Billions so the Irish Question will soon be academic and it will not be that long before Great Britain… Read more »

Andre
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Andre

Sorry, but the point is not an Irish crash or you are the first person to make that point.

The nation to crash is Britain. When Britain opts for “nodeal” it has no trade agreements with third nations (including US, China, India) or the EU. It crashes from the single market (and its set of external FTA) into WTO minimum. It basically loses its entire negotiating powers.

The remaining options after a Brexit nodeal crash would be to quickly join EFTA or get a very unfavourable EU deal.

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