Wednesday, 5 December 2018
EU, UK and the Republic of Ireland
As detailed in many previous posts, I believe that no deal which could be contrived between the EU and the UK outside the EU could be anywhere near as good as we already have if the UK remains inside the EU, so I haven't bothered my head with all the minutiae of the alternatives, be they Norway+, Norway ++, Canada + or whatever.
However, I am increasingly concerned that the apparent impasse over the "Irish Backstop" is being portrayed by the government and their supporting media as an intransigent EU behaving unreasonably and frustrating the legitimate aims of the UK.
This is nonsense.
The "Backstop," as I understand it, is an arrangement whereby Northern Ireland will continue to shadow many of the EU regulations unless and until some technological or other method evolves whereby goods leaving Northern Ireland for the Republic can be checked elsewhere than the border.
The UK want to be able to decide unilaterally when this aspiration is achieved.
The EU says it must be a joint decision.
Which seems to me to be very reasonable.
For the EU in this context read "the Government of Ireland." They, and the people of the Republic, are just as much concerned for the effects of the new situation, if and when it is achieved, as the people of Northern Ireland, (and the UK government acting on their behalf.)
A premature unilateral decision which is ineffective could lead to a return of the hard border and thus the Troubles. and the (relative) peace which has existed since the Good Friday Agreement, of which the EU is a guarantor, could be dissipated. The people of the Republic are naturally desperate to avoid this and thus anxious that no alleged "solution" should introduced without their agreement.
Naturally, they are backed by the other 26 members who will remain in the EU, becasue they are members of the Club, and that's what Club members do: support each other.
And so should we.
The people of the Republic of Ireland are our "kith and kin." (Remember how that phrase was bandied about by the Tories in the Rhodesia crisis in the high-and-far-off days of the Harold Wilson?) Not only that, until less than a hundred years ago they were our fellow citizens. They still have freedom of movement into and out of the UK without even passports, and even the right to vote in our elections if they choose to live here. If they want something special they are probably of all the citizens of the EU the most entitled to it.
But their demands are not special: they are legitimate and common sense. The EU is not using the "Irish Backstop" as a device to bully or trap the UK: they are merely defending the peace and security of of their members