Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

Shaming us all?

by Frank Schnittger Sat Oct 16th, 2021 at 09:09:35 AM EST

The Irish Times: Britain, the EU and the NI Protocol

A chara, - Newton Emerson writes that "the fact that Frost is tearing up his own deal is a redundant complaint" ("Irish fury over Frost seems aggravated by London taking unionism's side", Opinion & Analysis, ,October 14th).

And yet Dominic Cummings has tweeted that the UK never intended to implement the protocol and Ian Paisley jnr has confirmed that Boris Johnson told him in October 2019 that he would tear up the protocol after signing it.

What is the point of negotiating with a counterparty which cannot be trusted to implement any deal they sign? Why is the EU still negotiating with a government which has now rejected the EU proposals out of hand before they had even been published?

Fool us once, shame on us [should read "shame on you"]. Fool us twice and the shame is all ours. The EU is demeaning itself and us. - Is mise,

I am well aware that diplomacy is ultimately a pragmatic business mediating the realities of relative power, and is infinitely preferable to war and other means of doing so. The EU is ultimately the fruit of such pragmatism and a determination to avoid the horrors of war and destructive competing nationalisms. At it's heart is a compromise between the competing interests of its member states in search of the realisation of their larger common interests.

It is simply not in the EU's DNA to take a confrontational approach to any issue - for fear of exacerbating the difficulties even further. That is not a DNA shared by the UK, however, which built an empire on military superiority and subjugating all those with differing interests. A British ex-paratrooper friend never fails to remind me of how warlike the British people are, always ready to poke their noses in other peoples business.

That confrontational tone is at the heart of Brexit and "Global Britain's" attempt to reassert itself as an independent player in world affairs. Little matter that it now requires the support of the USA in that endeavour, and that it is not necessarily a good idea to antagonise the EU, Russia, China, and former colonies like India all at the same time. Little matter that neither Britain's military nor its economic strength are sufficient to sustain such a role any more.

The rest of the world may may be laughing as BoJo the clown does his thing, but in Ireland it is no laughing matter. The attempt by his ministers to gin up sectarian tensions in Northern Ireland around the Protocol of the Withdrawal Agreement is a scandal that should not be indulged or let go unchallenged. The EU may feel more comfortable in its usual pragmatic modus operandi, and it has bigger fish to fry in Poland and Hungary. But it is doing Ireland a grave disservice by failing to confront the flagrant perfidy of our larger neighbour. We have rather more experience of this sort of thing, and had thought we could count on the EU to fight our corner.

There are many practical issues with the Protocol which require pragmatic solutions, but the overriding principle is that "pacta sunt servanda": agreements must be honoured. The UK has shown bad faith in negotiations and not even an intention to implement what was agreed. There are still no proper customs facilities at Northern Ireland's ports and the agreed real time data transfer of customs information has never materialised. EU officials have even been denied an office in N. Ireland to oversee the process. The risks of large quantities of unauthorised goods leaking into the Single Market may be small, but they are and real, and there are currently no effective means of mitigating them.

The time has come for the EU Commission to show some backbone and demand the full implementation of the protocol. If the UK invokes article 16 to suspend parts of the protocol, the response must be robust and immediate: trade tariffs on UK goods until such time as the Protocol is fully implemented. Ireland may be caught in the cross-fire, but that is a price we will have to be prepared to pay. The integrity of the Single Market, the all-Ireland economy, and international law as contained in the Withdrawal Agreement must be upheld.

Otherwise, what is the EU for?

The Irish Times has unaccountably changed a sentence in the last paragraph from "Fool me once, shame on you" to "Fool us once, shame on us" - which it strange, as it is a well known saying popularised by (amongst others) President Bush!

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Oct 16th, 2021 at 09:52:30 AM EST
Nice catch, such a small change ... who would have noticed? 😂

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Sat Oct 16th, 2021 at 10:13:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Invoking Art. 16 would be too confrontational and the EU Commission would need to act. I expect both parties to circumvent that underwater cliff and accept a watered-down NI Protocol ... kicking the can down the road. The EU knows the Biden administration is pushing back on Boris Johnson and wonder how much of EU envoy Šefčovič's proposal was coordinated with Washington.

Lord Frost and Šefčovič discuss NI Protocol in Brussels

Furthermore both the UK and EU are in a stranglehold of extremist members. Johnson pushed by domestic issues and the EU by increased division amongst its members and some crucial elections and election results.

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Sat Oct 16th, 2021 at 10:08:23 AM EST
The DUP could well threaten to collapse the power sharing institutions of the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement if Frost doesn't trigger it. They are that mad...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Oct 16th, 2021 at 10:56:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Article 16 is quite specific. I think the UK Govt have observed before that it allows for measured responses which are' ultimately, resolved by the European Courts of Justice.

Aside from the fact that involving the ECJ is alleged to be part of the problem of the NIP, it hardly matches the self-styled maverick nature of the UK's relationship with the EU to have measured responses to and fro.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Oct 16th, 2021 at 01:17:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is to be expected. A divorce stirs up all sorts of family feuds, on both sides. Old grudges that had been papered over come out of the woodwork.

And Imperial ambitions die hard. The US will be next as it unaccountably picks fights with the nation that it has surrendered it's economy to.  Just this morning I got an Email from the (US) Naval Institute comparing the US-China situation to the US-Japan situation pre-WW II and calling for a Naval buildup.  Dreams of old glory die hard.

Unlike many (most?) progressives I am not pro-China. But a recent show of indignation by the US government about China tracking an American nuclear sub passing through the Taiwan Strait got me shaking my head.  
I looked up the distances. Taiwan is one hundred miles from the mainland. Cuba is 90 miles from Florida. What would the US say if China ran Nuclear submarines between Florida and Cuba into the Gulf of Mexico? International waters - but...    

by StillInTheWilderness on Sat Oct 16th, 2021 at 01:52:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I talked over my second paragraph with my daughter, telling her that NI was comparing China to 1940 Japan.

She remarked, "Japan didn't have nukes."

Yes. I have no desire to go up in flames for someone else's nostalgia.  The US Navy is desperately trying to be relevant and the British Navy is a pale shadow of the 19th Century British Navy that "ruled the waves".

by StillInTheWilderness on Sun Oct 17th, 2021 at 07:05:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think the EU are playing a waiting game. They're not rising to the bait simply because they can legitimately respond to the UK that, "yes we are taking you seriously, hence the recent offer, but we have problems in our own backyard that require immediate attention". The diplomatic equivalent of a telephone answering machine message, "your call is important to us and an agent will respond as soon as one is available. You are currently....third in the queue".

But they can also read polls. they can take a reasonable punt on the unionists getting reduced to an ineffective rump in the next Stormont parliament, when the republican and unionist parties of ascendancy will be Sinn Fein and Alliance. That is going to deny Westminster a chorus in Stormont. The dynamic is flowing in the EU's direction if they're patient. They just have to ride out the next few months

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Oct 16th, 2021 at 01:30:13 PM EST
soooo, one would be foolish to assume that Biden is "hostile" to BoJo, personally, or UK, generally. The more honest appraisal of US national interest, embodied by some in a POTUS, personally rather than officiously, is indifference to either headline parties to the NI protocol. And though the EU is not one of those in the vainglorious imagination of today's media-mediated immigrant nation, I promise, you the whole of the federal government is focused on balancing the perennial US-EU trade deficit--not intervening in "tribal" negotiations of the "ancestral homelands".

Money talks, bullshit walks: It's like an American motto.

by Cat on Sat Oct 16th, 2021 at 03:39:34 PM EST
Biden: "I'm Irish"

Biden's emotional attachment to Ireland has been a constant throughout his adult life and has become part of his political identity too. He routinely refers to his mother's family history and his ties to County Mayo. He quotes Irish poets, and uses the example of British rule in Ireland as a bridge to empathise with persecuted minorities.

Biden recommits to Good Friday accord on St. Patrick's Day

They don't come much greener ...

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Sat Oct 16th, 2021 at 08:19:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
hmm, yes, well, did he or his family fund the IRA?

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Sun Oct 17th, 2021 at 06:24:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
possibly, probably. As I understand, it was an entirely normal position for the New England Irish diaspora.

But, as a politician, he probably revised that view long before anybody could notice one way or another.

Now he is a staunch supporter of the GFA, as is any sane politician, and will, as POTUS, the guarantor of said agreement, do everything he can to support it. And if that means giving a defaulting UK a kicking diplomatically, I'm sure he'll do it willingly.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Oct 17th, 2021 at 08:56:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The USA has already issued a formal reprimand to the UK over its handling of the protocol issue and inflaming tensions in N. Ireland as a result.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Oct 18th, 2021 at 09:02:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Bush was Irish too  - a descendent of Strongbow.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Sun Oct 17th, 2021 at 06:31:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
See: The "everybody does it" excuse

As Frank noted: It is all very well screwing a distant colony or a native American tribe who have no means of redress, but rather stupid to try it on with a more powerful neighbour. (that would be the EU27)

If it comes to a show of strength, we'll see who's the more solid party. We'll also see the real political weight of the Irish constituency in the White House as well as on Capitol Hill.

by Bernard (bernard) on Sun Oct 17th, 2021 at 06:14:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Biden administration and US Congress will read Cummings' comments with interest...
That's a funny way to schpell "exceptionalism."
by Cat on Sun Oct 17th, 2021 at 06:30:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Being the world's only superpower means insisting you have the sole right to break whatever Treaties you feel like. The USA will not like the UK challenging its sole prerogative.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Oct 17th, 2021 at 07:29:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Bernard (bernard) on Sun Oct 17th, 2021 at 07:52:45 PM EST
pretty much the consensus we've reached here

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Oct 17th, 2021 at 08:48:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Brexit causes sharp fall in Irish lorry freight on Irish Sea ferries
Truck freight volumes fall by a third on Dublin-Holyhead route in nine months

n a further sign of Brexit affecting trade, lorry freight volumes on ferries between Holyhead and Dublin - the busiest Irish Sea route - fell by a third in the first nine months of year.

New industry figures to be published shortly will show a sharp reduction in the number of lorries moving between Ireland and Britain and across the "landbridge" to mainland Europe as companies prefer the certainty of direct routes without border checks and controls.

Dublin and Rosslare have recorded sharp declines in lorry freight traffic between Ireland and Britain but a surge in freight volumes on direct routes as traders avoid post-Brexit Britain.

There has been an increase in lorry freight moving on ferries between Northern Ireland and Britain as hauliers move away from ports in the Republic to avoid checks on goods.

Neither Dublin Port or Rosslare Europort have experienced the disruption to shipping witnessed in the UK where shipping companies have had to divert supersized cargo vessels away from Britain because of bottlenecks in the global supply chain and a shortage of lorry drivers.

The world's largest shipping company Maersk was forced to send ships bound for the English port of Felixstowe, the UK's largest commercial port, to Rotterdam and Antwerp after the port suffered a chronic build-up of containers and 20,000 container ships were waiting days to dock.

It is worth noting that as well as increasing north-south trade within Ireland, Brexit has resulted in an increasing east-west trade between Britain and N. Ireland. So much for the Protocol's alleged damaging of trade links between Britain and N. Ireland...

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Oct 18th, 2021 at 08:59:19 AM EST
Meanwhile, the traffic between Irish and French ports is booming. Funny that.

by Bernard (bernard) on Mon Oct 18th, 2021 at 07:54:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As we expected and predicted.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Tue Oct 19th, 2021 at 02:22:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Union will not survive the end of the NI Protocol - Brendan Heading - Slugger O'Toole
the peace process [...] is about stabilising the Northern Ireland state, parking the constitutional question to avoid it being a distraction, and governing it under cross-community consensus within the UK. Since Unionism by definition poses no democratic threat to the status of NI as part of the UK, it follows that there is a need to find ways to disincentivise the Irish unity case, which the NI Protocol achieves by ensuring there is no border within the island of Ireland [...]

To remove the protocol is therefore to remove a disincentive for Irish unity; [...] which would kickstart a future unity campaign. [...] Irish reunification would move from being a solution in search of a problem, to a solution that solves many problems, enabling full access to the single market to be reinstated for the whole island and finally an escape from the Johnson Tory party's political nihilism.

Schengen is toast!
by epochepoque on Mon Oct 18th, 2021 at 04:45:46 PM EST
good article, but the union was unlikely to survive brexit given the disparity between the votes in England against those in Scotland and Ulster.

However, it iscertain that the Union cannot survive Boris; his chaotic short-termism is already creating successive crises to which he has no seeming answer except to run away to Marbella. His posturing over the NIP to distract from his problems in Westminster simply ensures that the UK becomes friendless in the EU, DC and Belfast.

Meanwhile Edinburgh watches and uses it all as a cautionary tale

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Oct 18th, 2021 at 05:35:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Whether Boris survives for another few months until after the next election is not known at this point, and a new Conservative PM (if they are re-elected) may or may not allow another Scottish referendum. They will have to decide whether NI is worth £12 Billion per annum and all the international opprobrium it attracts. It seems increasingly likely that any future EU/UK settlement - if there is one - will depend on the constitutional status of Northern Ireland being put to a vote.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Oct 18th, 2021 at 07:49:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The DUP are threatening to collapse the power sharing agreement within the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement if the Protocol isn't abolished. Given that removing the Protocol would necessitate a customs border within Ireland, nationalists should be threatening to collapse power sharing and campaign for an immediate re-unification of Ireland if the protocol IS abolished. That should provide the middle ground - keen to preserve the constitutional status quo, with enough ammunition to campaign for its retention.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Oct 18th, 2021 at 07:43:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
David Puttnam rues `pig-ignorance' of Ireland in British politics

Film producer David Puttnam has announced his retirement from the House of Lords, citing the "pig-ignorance" of some British legislators about Ireland among his reasons for leaving.

Lord Puttnam (80), who has lived in West Cork since 1998, said he watched Conservative ministers "malevolently twist, turn and posture in parading their prejudices", during the Brexit debates.

"In discussions regarding the Republic of Ireland, and the complexity of finding sustainable post-Brexit solutions, I was staggered at the display of pig-ignorance towards the fundamentals of Irish history, let alone sensitivity towards the reality of cross-border relationships.

"Had they really become so disconnected from the ghastly history of what we euphemistically call `the Troubles'?" he said on Friday evening in a lecture in honour of the late Labour and Liberal Democrat politician Shirley Williams.

"As someone who lives just across the Ilen River from the site of what is probably the largest and most recent mass famine-grave on these islands, I may well be ultra-sensitive to these issues, but with a few notable exceptions, the level of empathy and understanding on display in both Houses was truly shocking."

Lord Puttnam's films include Chariots of Fire, which won an Oscar for Best Picture in 1981, Midnight Express, The Killing Fields, The Mission and Local Hero. A member of the British Labour party, he was nominated to the House of Lords by Tony Blair in 1997 and has been active on committees, focusing particularly on regulation of broadcasting and digital communications.


"Mirroring the anxieties of many of those angry Brexiteers in 2016, I feel I've had my country of birth, and the values I believed it to represent, stolen from me.

"It's worse than that, I find myself embarrassed by what, on an almost daily basis, I see it becoming - my old enemy Rupert Murdoch's dream made real. He never liked Britain, and he's kind of won; he's helped remake it in his own malevolent image," he said

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Oct 19th, 2021 at 08:59:12 PM EST
Watching Claire Byrne dismantle Nigel Ferret in living color yesterday was highly entertaining.
by rifek on Wed Oct 20th, 2021 at 05:46:27 AM EST
Giving him a platform. It's a sham she invites him now and then .. for what purpose?

Farage gets called on his nonsense by Claire Byrne - Jan. 2019

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Wed Oct 20th, 2021 at 07:42:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Programme ratings, dear boy, ratings!

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Oct 20th, 2021 at 09:52:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
To mimic Harold MacMillan's famous injunction "Events dear Boy, events", when asked what had gone wrong with his premiership.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Oct 20th, 2021 at 10:38:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]