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One of the intriguing aspects of the Boris and Leo Summit is that there have been no leaks as to what actually transpired at the meeting. If Leo has a fault (besides his neo-liberal economic policies) it is a tendency to talk too much: to muse out loud about things when it would be better to work on them in private; to commentate on events rather than shape them. Staying schtum is a long standing Irish tradition when dealing with difficult political situations: "Whatever you say, say nothin'.

So having been quite forthright in his opening remarks of welcome at the Press conference, it is difficult to imagine Leo being any less blunt in private. And yet he and Boris have said nothing about what was discussed. There was no press conference afterwards.

Arlene Foster has declared herself encouraged after the summit and her meeting with Boris afterwards in which she claimed Boris ruled out agreeing to a N. Ireland only backstop. However his focus on "practicalities" and her repeated pleas for "a sensible compromise" has indicated some back tracking on the backstop is in the air.

It will take some weeks for the outlines of their proposals to become clear - Boris will want to keep his powder dry until the run-up to the October EU Council summit and the famous last minute, all night, negotiations he claims the EU always engages in, but we can expect a word salad of "Maximum Facilitation", "devolved accountability", and "cross-community consent" which will ensure that the N. Ireland Executive, if it is ever re-constituted, will have some role in overseeing arrangements.

The issue is that it will require cross-community support to change the status quo, not just maintain it. Thus unless both communities - in practice the DUP and Sinn Fein - agree to some divergence from CUSM rules, which will require border infra-structure to police, it will not happen. And of course Sinn Fein will never agree to that. No one will grant the DUP a veto on continued N.I./IE "regulatory alignment".

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Sep 12th, 2019 at 09:52:48 AM EST

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