If the United Kingdom is confused on how to proceed with leaving the European Union, imagine how the other twenty-seven member states feel as they view the ever-changing plans or indications of plans coming out of London. The latest idea seems to be focused on the suggestion that the UK and the EU could agree to a return to a “Northern Ireland”-only backstop protocol in the draft Withdrawal Agreement, leaving the British more or less free to embark on whatever mad Brexit adventures they have in mind. Except that Westminster’s expectations of such a deal being possible have been tempered by claims that the Democratic Unionist Party has got a firm commitment from Boris Johnson that there will be no regulatory and customs divergence between the UK legacy colony on the island of Ireland and the motherland. Giving the DUP’s most ardent supporters their favoured outcome. Hollowing out the Good Friday Agreement to the point of near-collapse while rejoicing in the imposition of a visible frontier around the Six Counties. A new partition for a new century and just in time for the anniversary of the first attempt to do so one hundred years ago.
Then comes today’s news that the courts in Scotland have ruled that the prorogation of the sitting parliament in Westminster by the minority Conservative Party government was unlawful. Leading to accusations from sources close to Number 10 that the Scottish judiciary is not to be trusted. And sure, what this Scots’ Law nonsense anyway?
Meanwhile, the DUP leader Arlene Foster has set out her priorities in the north-east, securing popular support for her party and strengthening the “union” (the one currently being disparaged by the Brexit zealots in London) by appealing to, in order of importance, unionists, ethnic minorities, and the northern nationalist community. You know, the one that nominally makes up some 40% of the population in the disputed region.
Of course, it could be that the bold Arlene has her mind on bigger challenges. Like building a bridge across the North Channel to physically link the islands of Ireland and Britain in order to bring about a watery Anschluss for the pro-union minority. A sort of comfort blanket that admittedly falls somewhat short of the preferred option of filling in the Irish Sea altogether and making one super-island to be named Britland.
Talking of annexation, the general election in Israel has thrown up the oft-repeated threat by Netanyahu that he intends to incorporate up to a third of the Israeli-occupied West Bank and other controlled areas into the Jewish State. Except that this time around, rather than making just an idle vote-getting pledge, the hard-right leader may actually intend to go through with it, supported by the Trump administration in the United States.
None of which fills one with much hope for the future.
Update: Johnson rules out a Six Counties’ backstop or any other backstop arrangement to protect the Good Friday Agreement while facilitating Brexit. The message from London is clear: British pounds are more important than Irish peace.
15 Billion pounds on a bridge built on top of a World War 2 ammunition dump. What can possibly go wrong?
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Madness, isn’t it? all to give a comfort blanket or an illusion of being physically or geographically British to a minority of DUP supporters.
This is the stuff that Putin has got up to in Ukraine with his infamous Crimea bridge. A symbol of annexation, of territorial chest thumping. Similar to the Chinese and their artificial atolls, staking claims to territories by physically linking them or creating symbols of possession.
Ah now, that’s not entirely fair to either Russia or China. Crimea does not have a land route to Russia without the bridge and is over 90% Russian. China is working to beat back the encirclement that Obama’s TTP/TTIP were striving to achieve. The SCS islands are there to give some buffer between the Chinese littoral and the US navy.
Russia, US, China, they are all as bad as each other but only one of them is prodding limits, leaving arms limitations treaties and working to encircle the others.
Ha, ha, ha, this is getting more mini-me-Trump every day. For Steve Bannon, the evil Svengali in the background, read Dominic Cummings. For Trump’s “wall” read Johnston’s “bridge”. Can’t wait for the Tory conference, and all the crazies chanting, “build the bridge, build the bridge”.
Meanwhile, Johnston (the infamous liar, backstabber and double-crosser) has soothed Arlene’s and Nigel’s nerves by assuring them he won’t sacrifice Northern Ireland to get a deal. That could turn out to be the funniest part of all.
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It really is awful. But there are predictions that the UK Supreme Court will overturn the ruling upon appeal next week. Which will open a can of constitutional worms on the question of Scottish law, and Scottish interpretations of constitutional law, versus UK law.
I heard or read somewhere last week that no UK civil servant or minister was willing to sign an affidavit to the effect that the proroguing was for the reasons given by their government. Now I read that the Scottish decision hinged on the UK government not being able to produce such signed testimony. Hopefully the UK Supreme Court will take a similar view to their Scottish counterparts.
On a separate point, it really is disturbing how similar the Johnston government’s tactics are to those of the Trump administration. The immediate reaction of 10 Downing Street “sources” was to question the integrity of the Scottish judges. All norms and conventions (and even some laws) are being shredded.
Bring your truck over the bridge and then what?, a bog road off in the distant Highlands miles from the main motorway system, hilarious stuff.
Raymond McCords challenge against a hard Brexit has been dismissed by the High Court.
On the grounds that it’s “a matter of politics and not law”. This legal position is understandable, as a determination either way amounts to making predictions on what could reasonably be argued is unpredictable. But there comes a point when the law has to intervene in matters political. Perhaps extra care has to be taken in the wording of representations (only a blind guess).
So judges are now being brought in to decide what politicians are thinking when they make a decision. Have they suddenly developed powers of clairvoyance? I have no doubt that Johnson lied respecting his ostensible reason for proroguing parliament, but is that a valid reason to drag him before the courts. As all politicians of all stripes are inveterate liars our courts are going to get mighty crowded. Keep unelected judges out of politics and let the people, through the medium a general election, decide who is fit to be P.M., thought the choice between Boris and Corbyn is hardly a high quality one.
Ah, Boris Johnson, a modern day Finn McCool.
What not to like about a bridge between Ireland and Scotland. The passage of goods, trade and folks to and between Ireland and Scotland and thence to Northern Europe beyond sounds a great idea for a unified Ireland and an independent Scotland.
The logic, of Boris, having lMcCool like trouble with someone across the water is a tantalising reason to build a bridge. Especially when Boris has as much trouble with Scotland as he has with Ireland. And who would this new causeway truly benefit.
But hey it’s a good fairy story that everyone can believe. I men what have we been waiting for. Why hasn’t it happened before, All hail the new Boris McCool with his Queen do doubt poised to sign off on the project.
All hail indeed!
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As I understand it there are a few techical problems building the bridge
Oh and Boris has form when it comes to bridge building:
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-47228698 Failed London Garden Bridge project cost £53m
Aye, 1,500, 000 tonnes of explosive dumped in the Beaufort trench by the British military after WW2 might be enough to stymie a crossing for the next 100,000 years.
But what did they dump it in the sea off Scotland and Ireland.
I think I know!
I think the UK Supreme Court will agree with its Scottish counterpart and find against Johnston and his government. If they don’t then, in effect, a government would be free to prorogue parliament at any time and for any length of time it wished, in order to avoid parliamentary scrutiny. I just can’t see them going along with that. Not least as parliament is the supreme body.
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This was very good from Ronan Lavery, Raymond McCord’s QC, in his submission to the UK Supreme Court hearing: “The only reason that Northern Ireland is a part of the United Kingdom is by the consent of its people freely given in the 1998 Good Friday agreement referendum. Therefore, if the rule of law is being undermined by a prorogation with the illegitimate, unlawful or unconstitutional aim or purpose of facilitating a no-deal Brexit, the constitutional position of Northern Ireland itself in the United Kingdom is undermined by this prorogation.
“Withdrawal from the EU in terms that are harmful and oppressive to the people of Northern Ireland … firstly undermines the principle of consent of the people of Northern Ireland by preferring the interests of English nationalism over the safety and welfare of the people of Northern Ireland. Secondly, it is a breach of the terms of the Good Friday agreement which states that it would be wrong for there to be any constitutional change in Northern Ireland without the consent of its people.”
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