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Dutch Courage

By Patrick Van Roy On January 29th, 2019

Guest Post by Paul

British TV reporter Joel Hills asks Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte about concessions to Theresa May regarding the Irish ‘backstop’. I have to say, there’s something pretty ignoble about a British reporter telling Rutte that there’ll be no deal without EU concessions. Rutte explains the situation to him with some straight talking which is long overdue.

Meanwhile some within May’s party have been calling for “alternative arrangements” to the backstop concluding in the ‘Malthouse Compromise’ last night where :

The prime minister would renegotiate the backstop element of her Brexit deal to replace it with a free trade agreement with as-yet-unknown technology to avoid customs checks on the Irish border.

It would also involve extending the transition period for an extra year until December 2021 to allow more time to agree a new trading relationship.

It sounds like a rehashing of the ‘technological solution’ that has generated many words but little substance. There have been accusations of ‘bad faith’ and ‘inflexibility’ on the part of the EU and that they are ‘punishing’ Britain. The EU have so thus:

– (Reluctantly) offered Britain a clean break.

– Suggested Britain EEA status outside the EU such as Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein, (incidentally, the option arch Brexiteers like Boris Johnson, Daniel Hannan, Owen Paterson, the Nigel Farage, Matthew Elliot, Arron Banks and of course our own Pete Moore were shouting for BEFORE leave won the referendum)

– Suggested Britain EFTA status outside the EU such as Iceland, Norway,  Liechtenstein and Switzerland

– Offered to extend the time to enact Art 50

– Tailor a unique arrangement for that part of Ireland which is currently within the UK leaving Britain free to Brexit to its heart’s content.

Can someone demonstrate the bad faith, inflexibility and punishment here and tell me which terms and conditions would be sufficient to ensure good faith, flexibility and non punishment?

The Brits absolutely brought this chaos on themselves and it’s about time they started to take the initiative and started making proposals as to what’s acceptable to them rather than expecting others to clean their mess for them.

68 Responses to “Dutch Courage”

  1. Thanks for everything Pat.

  2. Interesting. Agreed so poorly thought our and now putting the toothpaste back in the tube ain’t so easy.

  3. It’s beyond a joke. Two weeks ago May telling the HoC that the deal she negotiated was the best that could be got and today telling the same house that the same deal “needs” further changes.

  4. It’s worse. May spent weeks saying that her deal can’t be renegotiated. Now she’s saying it can be.

  5. The sensible majority in Parliament did not want the damaging nonsense of Brexit and certainly never wanted the harmful and stupid policy of quitting the SM and CU which we have worked so hard for decades build promote create and embed for the benefit of all of the EU, yet the whole hard crash out Brexit process is now being dragged along at the behest of an implacable Europhobic Tory Right minority group in Parliament because the sensible majority haven’t got the strength and willpower to stop it.

    As the famous Irishman poetically noted “ The best lack all conviction and the worst are full of passionate intensity “

  6. What did the people vote for? Brexit or Remain ?

    Oh that’s right your politicians don’t work for the voters……

  7. “What did the people vote for? Brexit or Remain ?”

    Did they vote for a no deal Brexit? Or EFTA Brexit? Single Market Brexit? Custom’s Union Brexit? Security co-operation Brexit?

  8. The British people voted to Leave, and that’s it. The deception which is at the heart of all these shenanigans is that MPs and Remainers are concocting a Remain-Brexit

  9. The British people voted to Leave the European Union. They did when they were told that leaving the European Union would still allow them to retain the Single Market, and that leaving the European Union would have no impact on the border in Ireland.

    So can any of the Brexiteers come up with a solution that will involve no new infrastructure (including cameras), no tariffs etc… on goods going through the border in Ireland?

  10. I think Brexiteers aren’t interested in those solutions. They are content to see a hard border in Ireland if that’s the price for satisfying their disruptive “ stuff you Europe” desires.

  11. They did when they were told that leaving the European Union would still allow them to retain the Single Market . . .

    David Cameron, remember him, stated that Leaving the EU also meant Leaving the SM, the CU and the ECJ. We knew what we voted for.

    There is no need for there to be a hard border, and in any case there already is a currency border, a VAT border and a tax border. So a customs border is not that greater step and does not require walls. This border nonsense is just a fabrication and in all probability will be removed at the last minute. And remember, it was the UK government that requested to Remain part of the CU as stated by Mr. Barnier.

    the United Kingdom and the EU would form a single customs territory, at the specific, insistent request of the United Kingdom. We have aligned ourselves with this UK idea, which was not in our blueprint for the backstop . . .

    http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_SPEECH-19-642_en.htm

  12. And yes, this is a mess. But this is a mess created by a Remain PM, a Remain government, and a Remain parliament and House of Lords, aided and abetted by a Remain Civil Service. The people, who voted Leave, have had no involvement since the day of the Referendum.

  13. The British people voted to Leave

    There’s absolutely no doubt that some who voted to leave voted for this:

    Suggested Britain EEA status outside the EU such as Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein, (incidentally, the option arch Brexiteers like Boris Johnson, Daniel Hannan, Owen Paterson, the Nigel Farage, Matthew Elliot, Arron Banks and of course our own Pete Moore were shouting for BEFORE leave won the referendum)

    Including our own Pete Moore…..

  14. Incidentally, in the event of no deal:

    British retirees living in France, Spain, Italy, Germany and elsewhere in the EU will lose their free healthcare if no Brexit deal has been agreed by March 29th, the UK government said on Tuesday

    At the moment British nationals who retire to the EU have their healthcare covered by the NHS but in the event of a no deal this will no longer be the case, the UK government revealed in a technical notice published on Tuesday

    The news will no doubt be met with fear and worry among the 190,000 British pensioners who are retired in France, Spain, Italy, Germany and other EU countries.

    It is believed that the situation could lead to an increased burden on the NHS due to the fact that British retirees may decide it’s better to return to the UK for treatment.

    https://www.thelocal.es/20190129/no-deal-brexit-british-pensioners-in-eu-to-lose-free-healthcare

    The chief executives of most of the UK’s largest food retailers have written to the country’s MPs to warn of the “significant disruption” facing the industry from a ‘no-deal’ Brexit.
    Mike Coupe, the chief of Sainsbury’s, Asda counterpart Roger Burnley and Jo Whitfield, the chief executive of The Co-op’s retail business, have called on UK MPs to “urgently to find a solution” that “avoids the shock of a no-deal Brexit on 29 March”, the date when the country is set to leave the EU.

    In the letter, also signed by bosses at retailers including Marks and Spencer and by the UK arms of foodservice operators McDonald’s and KFC, MPs were warned of the “practical examples” faced by the food industry and how the sector’s “ability to mitigate these risks is limited”.

    “Our supply chains are closely linked to Europe – nearly one third of the food we eat in the UK comes from the EU. In March, the situation is more acute as UK produce is out of season: 90% of our lettuces, 80% of our tomatoes and 70% of our soft fruit [are] sourced from the EU at that time of year. As this produce is fresh and perishable, it needs to be moved quickly from farms to our stores,” the letter read.

    https://www.just-food.com/news/uk-food-retail-ceos-issue-no-deal-brexit-warning_id140839.aspx

    But it’s just ‘Project Fear’ or something, right?

  15. Paul

    What do you care ? It’s not your problem.

    I note that, it could lead to increased burden on the NHS. On the other had, and I know this from first hand experience, if EU citizens, or anyone else for that matter, were denied access to the NHS here that would free up a lot of resources.

    190,000 British pensioners you say ? Nothing compared to the +3 million in the UK. Now I am not into tit-for-tat but ???

    https://fullfact.org/immigration/eu-citizens-brexodus/

  16. What do I care about what Mark?

    That 190,000 figure is just for Brit retirees living in the EU:

    https://britishineurope.org/facts-and-figures/

    Now, while you may welcome the ‘freeing up of a lot of resources’ I don’t think the Brits living in the EU would feel the same.

  17. Thanks for that dose of common sense, Paul.

    And speaking of common sense :-), did you see that Leo has called on SF MPs to take their seats for the crucial votes next month?

  18. did you see that Leo has called on SF MPs to take their seats for the crucial votes next month?

    I alluded to that a few weeks ago, wondering if Gerry would allow it. I believe the consensus was no.

  19. If not taking the seats hurt the country in a close vote, that wouldn’t help their popularity too much.

    Political posturing/principle is nice, but protecting the interests of the country and your voters should also be considered.

  20. Phantom

    Agreed. SF should not let history get in the way of making a future.

  21. It will be six degrees farenheit here tomorrow morning. Be happy you’re in El Paso.

    Not so bad for me ( I have short walks to the subway at each end of my commute ) but not a good time to be waiting outdoors for a bus ( which many do )

  22. That is bone chilling cold Phantom! I can’t imagine what it must feel like. The coldest it ever gets here is about 21, every few years. That’s cold enough to kill the palm trees!

  23. We’ve avoided serious snow this winter. The big snowstorms came just north of NYC, including the higher elevations.

    But there will always be a few days in January or so when it gets cold that sinks into the bone. No escaping that.

    On these deep cold days, its not a bad idea to leave the water running ever so slowly all night long, to make it less likely that the pipes will freeze. I may do that.

  24. sitting in 6 inches and it’s 8 degrees

  25. Our houses down here are not winterized for that kind of cold. And the pipes are not insulated or buried very deep and tend to bust. We would never make it in that kind of cold. People don’t even have big coats here.

  26. you’d get one fast if you went outside her Charles….. it’s COLD!

  27. here

  28. Did you see that Leo has called on SF MPs to take their seats for the crucial votes next month?

    I had a recent conversation with Charles about this Noel. I’m in work at the moment so don’t have time to look into the psephological breakdowns but I don’t see how seven votes can influence any ammendments such as those voted down by at least double margins last night.

    I also believe that SF MPs taking their seats in Westminister would be political hari kari in the sense that it would set a precedent and be ruthlessly exploited by SF foes, republican, nationalist and unionist alike.

  29. Here in London we get a forecast of 1-2cm of snow and temparatures falling to just around 0c (32f) and official Warnings of impending doom are issued by the Met Office 🙂

  30. if that’s doom Colm I’ll trade ya

  31. Never understood that about London.

    Your government/train operators do an extremely horrible job when there’s rumors of a snowflake somewhere in the northern hemisphere.

    Years ago, I flew into Stansted after a two inch snowfall. They shut down the train from the airport over that dusting. I don’t think that such a thing would happen anywhere else.

  32. -3 (centigrade, not that rubbish farenheit concoction) in Pamplona this morning but thankfully dry.

  33. If the UK really wants to Brexit, it should abandon centigrade and kilometers and return to the days of proper measurements, like farenheit and miles.

  34. Meanwhile, here’s the calibre of polticians from the wee six keeping the Cons in power:

    https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-northern-ireland-47048582

  35. Phantom, centigrade is a much better climate measurement that that bonkers farenheit, by several dozen country kilometers.

  36. True, but so what.

    Tradition, harrumph.

  37. weather is not climate……. at least according to the Climate Cult….

    so that makes it -13 centigrade with 15 centimeters here.

  38. This is pretty pathetic allegation by Raab:

    https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-47055461

    He also suggested that various technical and administrative measures could be used to keep the Irish border frictionless in all circumstances

    Mr Raab said the issue was “eminently solvable” with goodwill, practical cooperation, technology and decentralised processes

    It sounds like a rehashing of the ‘technological solution’ that has generated many words but little substance.

  39. Again any technological solution (should that particular unicorn even exist) would require new border infrastructure. The idea that you could have a technological solution without even CCTV or ANPR cameras is farcical.

  40. I notice no one doubts what Mr. Banier had to say regarding the Customs Union ie It was not in ‘their’ (EU) plan.

    BREXIT is a British thing and, as Mr. Barnier also said some time ago “The clock is ticking”. One way or another we are going to find out. Personally, although I favoured a slightly different outcome, I am looking forward to 29th March. 🙂

  41. Mark,

    Arch Brexiteers like Boris Johnson, Daniel Hannan, Owen Paterson, the Nige Farage, Matthew Elliot, Arron Banks and Pete Moore were all speaking about various variations of the CU before the referendum. Of course, AFTER the outcome of the referendum was known they all said a different thing…..

  42. “I notice no one doubts what Mr. Banier had to say regarding the Customs Union ie It was not in ‘their’ (EU) plan”

    It largely wasn’t. The EU didn’t want the British to be half in / half out. But they wanted to avoid a hardening of the border in Ireland so they wanted Northern Ireland to continue in Single Market and Customs Union membership. The British Government (and the DUP) kicked up a fuss about that idea so the Northern Ireland special arrangements were extended to the entirety of the UK.

  43. Barnier of course explained that the state of NI staying withing the CU would be a deal maker which May accepted:

    Michel Barnier has claimed a Brexit deal could be within reach by next Wednesday but warned the prime minister that only by abandoning a key red line and agreeing to a customs union can impediments on trade between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK be avoided […]

    The EU’s contentious proposal for avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland after Brexit is for Northern Ireland to, in effect, stay in the customs union and remain under single market regulations, while the rest of the UK withdraws

    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/oct/10/brexit-deal-may-must-agree-on-customs-union-says-barnier

    Untill May was of course humiliatingly slapped down by the DUP:

    https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/stop-wasting-time-and-ditch-irish-backstop-arlene-foster-warns-theresa-may-m5mgl8nwn

  44. “Did you see that Leo has called on SF MPs to take their seats for the crucial votes next month?”

    That’s just silly politicking. So SF should abandon its core policy of abstentionism from tge British parliament – held for 100 years – for some cobbled together Brexit vote?

  45. Well, EU leaders have all day been very clearly telling May where to go with her “alternatives” to the Backstop. To say they were blunt about rejecting renegotiation would be an understatement.

    Any guesses as to whether Brexit politicians in the HoC are just deliberately wasting time or are they genuinely stupid?

  46. This is an endless torture with no solution in sight.

    Where does it end?

    ( Not asking for opinions of what should be, but how do you think it will actually end )

  47. //how do you think it will actually end//

    Hard to know.

    May will return from Brussels with her hands as empty as after her last few trips. I then remains to be seen whether a large enough crowd of Brexiters will pretend that some cosmetic changes or reassurances from the EU represent a change to the deal such that they can now support.

    May has so far been trying to appeal to her right to get them on board.

    If that doesn’t work, i.e. if Brexiters refuse to make even bigger fools of themselves by supporting something that they rejected 2 weeks ago, she may try to get a majority from the centre and the left – agree to a continuing customs union would be one option.
    If she gets the support of Labour she could also drop the DUP, which would in turn allow her let NI stay in the CU and SM while Britain gets a more solid Brexit.

    It’s hard to know, but my bet would be that she eventually reaches an accommodation with Labour and the UK stays with one foot in and one foot out.

  48. You must also remember that everyone believes the Backstop will be only temporary, and that the UK will within a few years have reached a comprehensive trade arrangement with the EU anyway.

    As far as I can see, all they’re really arguing about is whether Britain’s future status vis-avis the EU is resolved now or whether it should be negotiated in a few years.

    But I cede the floor to those more informed.

  49. BTW, Phantom, it would be nice if you kept comments about the US on one of the very many current “American” threads. There are, God knows, enough of them around.

    Once you start bringing something like American weather into a UK conversation, all your compatriots immediately join in.

  50. That’s a bit harsh Noel. There’s nothing wrong with political discussions on any topic being alleviated with some non political light hearted side comments . And talking about the weather is indeed a very British and Irish thing to do 😉

  51. i generally keep comments in the right box, or try to, but make no firm promises. Conversations, like the mighty Mississippi, meander.

  52. OK, so on American political threads, British and Irish commenters comment on American politics.

    And on British political threads, American commenters comment on American weather.

  53. It’s hardly a daily occurrence.

    There may be other things to be worried about.

  54. An Irish republican accuses others of intransigence. You cannot top that.

    It sounds like a rehashing of the ‘technological solution’ that has generated many words but little substance.

    Happy to help you again Paul. Not for the first time, here’s my link to you of the European Research Groups’s proposals for the land UK/EU border.

  55. Phantom –

    It won’t end because the establishment EU jihadists simply won’t accept the democratic will of the people. Even if we have a clean Brexit on 29th March the campaign will immediately begin to get us back in.

  56. As it should !

  57. ” Not for the first time, here’s my link to you of the European Research Groups’s proposals for the land UK/EU border.”

    Which includes “The EU suggested solutions itself in the Smart Border 2.0 paper which the European Parliament commissioned in 2017”. The Smart Border paper requires new infrastructure. ANPR, RFID, and CCTV systems. So cameras and radio masts.

  58. Seamus,

    Do you consider a “smart” border a “hard” border?

  59. I consider any new infrastructure to be a hardening of the border. Not least because any new infrastructure will be destroyed and/or vandalised. Which will then cause the new infrastructure to either be useless or require protection (increasing the hardening of the border).

  60. Charles –

    They would blow up a box with a microchip in it. Irish republicans make ISIS look amenable to ways forward.

  61. If it ain’t broke don’t Brexit !

  62. Happy to help you again Paul. Not for the first time, here’s my link to you of the European Research Groups’s proposals for the land UK/EU border.

    Yes Pete, and not for the first time would I have to explain why all Lord Lilley’s ’20km inland buffer zone’ that the ERG’s proposals are based on are rubbish.

    http://www.atangledweb.org/?p=76576

    Do you consider a “smart” border a “hard” border?

    I’ll take that if you’re okay with it Charles?

    IMO anything that impedes the free movement of traffic and / or people within the two states on the island of Ireland would be considered a hard border.

    I think that the problem with electronic checks would be that in a worst case scenario they’ll be attacked as symbols of partition. As a result of these attacks the electonic apparatus will quickly turn into physical customs posts which will be burned or worse. Cops will then be brought into guard these posts and the ire at a British police force guarding a British border in Ireland will very quickly turn into bullets and when the soldiers are deployed to guard the cops guarding the customs posts we’ll very quickly be back to where we were pre 97.

    That’s a worst case scenario which is entirely possible. I have heard that there are some people in Belfast and South Armagh presently salivating at the thought.

    Threads tend to wander sometimes Noel and as long as they get back on track there’s no big deal. One of the refreshing things about this thread thus far is that the absence of trolls have meant that the conversation has been civil and pretty informative.

  63. // the problem with electronic checks would be that in a worst case scenario they’ll be attacked as symbols of partition//

    No, worse would be if they aren’t attacked 🙂

    I wouldn’t worry about cctv and electronic checks in themselves. You already can’t go through any town in Ireland without being filmed by cctv and other gadgets, and a few more on the border wouldn’t make any difference.
    Also, electronic checks would be a problem only if they hindered traffic and commerce.

    No. What is to be resisted is any border that separates the people of Ireland. The one we have is alredy bad enough, any any more visible or tangible partition will be, and should be, resisted and destroyed as soon as it’s put in place.

  64. = AND any more …..

  65. No, worse would be if they aren’t attacked 🙂

    Superb.

  66. Very informative mates!

  67. If the backstop is never to be used and only temporary. Why is it needed at all? Why the cries of shrill horror when it was suggested it have an expiry date?
    Simply because the EU plan was to keep us in the provisions powerless and bleeding cash in perpetuity. It’s a trap not a backstop and May fell for it. Thank God some Mps didn’t.

  68. If the backstop is never to be used and only temporary. Why is it needed at all? Why the cries of shrill horror when it was suggested it have an expiry date?

    As an insurance measure against perfidy. Many of the prominant leave people said the UK would remain in the CU, EEA etc prior to the referendum and changed their tune to ‘leave means leave’ after the referendum was won.

    How could you not want an insurance policy against such deceit?

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