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A Chara,- Newton Emerson appears to be labouring under the delusion that the dispute over the Protocol is all about what unionist do and do not want. He argues that the EU should bend over backwards to satisfy unionist demands in order to consolidate fragile unionist majority support for the protocol. (Unionist acceptance of NI protocol very close, Opinion, 11 November)

In reality, there are no concessions that the EU could make which would satisfy Jeffrey Donaldson and Jim Allister et al. For them, any border down the Irish sea is a diminution of British sovereignty and their sense of British identity.  They are happy to accept the benefits of membership of the EU Single Market so long as there is no diminution of their access to the UK internal market, a classic "have cake and eat it" syndrome at a time when the form of Brexit Boris Johnson negotiated and they supported entailed Britain leaving the Single Market and Customs union.

But his almost exclusive focus on unionist sentiment also obscures another reality: This dispute between the British government and the EU is not primarily about "the border down the Irish sea" at all, but rather about "the border across the English Channel". The British Government still seeks to obtain all the benefits of EU membership without the costs and responsibilities associated with it. Hence the focus on the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice which was never an issue in Northern Ireland until Lord Frost sought to make it so.

For the EU to concede control over the Single Market in Northern Ireland is to create a precedent for a loss of control over the Single Market in Britain as well, and if that happens the Brexiteers will have achieved their objective: The benefits of the EU without the costs, and with it the hastening of the end of EU itself.

From an EU perspective, the issue is not simply the peace and stability of Northern Ireland, but the peace and stability of Europe itself.  That can never be compromised, and that is why the EU is considering abrogating the Trade and Cooperation agreement with the UK if the UK fails to honour the Withdrawal Agreement and its Protocol.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Nov 12th, 2021 at 09:21:18 AM EST

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