Well that was predictable. The EU has looked over the British Government’s die in a ditch proposal for a Brexit deal, and has gone “meh”. And as was equally predictable, one of the main sticking points is Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson’s plan to give the DUP an effective veto. The terms of the Good Friday Agreement already give the minority of drum bangers the ability to hold the rest of the Northern Irish population hostage. The British Government’s new plan for Brexit would give them the ability to hold the entire island of Ireland hostage. The British Government’s idea of progress is to turn the fate of the island of Ireland over to a bunch of reactionaries who still long for the 17th century.
The position of the DUP is that Northern Ireland must be treated exactly the same as the rest of the UK. Except for the same right to gay marriage, but apart from that, identical. And except for the same right of a woman to choose an abortion, but apart from that, identical. And except for the same recognition and government support given to Celtic languages in other parts of the UK where they are traditional, but apart from that, identical. And except for giving a party which only receives less than 30% of the popular vote a veto. But apart from that, identical. So totally identical to the rest of the UK, except when it suits the DUP and keeps them in an entrenched position of privilege, and that’s not hypocritical of them at all, oh no.
The Republic of Ireland has dealt with its own backward elements which until very recently deprived citizens of access to abortion, and equal marriage, they’re not about to surrender control of their economy to a bunch of right wing reactionaries who only wanted Brexit in the first place so that they can erect a hard border with the rest of the island in the hope of preserving their failing Britishness in orange flavoured aspic. You could even say that it was always obvious that the response of the EU to this proposal would be gan géilleadh, which is Irish for no surrender.
The fundamental problem here is that if the British Government insists on the DUP veto, then the plan will be rejected by Dublin. Yet if the British Government can’t get the support of the DUP by giving it a veto on the final status of Northern Ireland then it can’t get the plan through the Commons. It’s not just that they depend on the 10 votes of DUP MPs, if the DUP rejects the plan then many of the MPs in the Tories’ Brextremist ERG are likely to reject it too. However if the DUP don’t get their veto, they are highly unlikely to support the plan. The British Government came up with this wheeze because Theresa May was caught between a rock and a hard place with the Irish backstop. Now with this new plan Lyin’ Bastert Johnson has just substituted the hard place for the hard face of the DUP. He’s just as trapped as his predecessor was. You can’t square a circle by replacing the circle with a Lambeg drum.
At a press conference in Dublin on Thursday afternoon, the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that he was not at all happy with the plan to allow the DUP to veto something that everyone else on the island of Ireland was in favour of. He was also unhappy with the way in which the plan would require Northern Ireland to be in a different customs zone from the Republic, and did not think that the plan meant that tariffs, checks, and customs posts could be avoided. His message to Westminster was go home and think again.
Meanwhile the European Parliament, which will have a veto on any final deal, has said that the plan as it stands is not remotely acceptable. The Parliament’s Brexit committee has said that the “last minute” plan cannot form the basis for an agreement. In a statement the influential committee said, “Safeguarding peace and stability on the island of Ireland, protection of citizens and EU’s legal order has to be the main focus of any deal. The UK proposals do not match even remotely what was agreed as a sufficient compromise in the backstop.” Which is how a diplomat says, “Oh forgodssake, why are we still having to put up with such crap from these people.”
Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, called both the Irish and British prime ministers today. His tone was very different in each call. He told Leo Varadkar that the EU stood fully behind Ireland. He told Boris Johnson that he was havin’ a laff. Well no. Not in those words exactly. What he really said was the EU was still “unconvinced” by the British Brexit plan. That’s a nice way of saying “They don’t call you Lyin’ Bastert Johnson for nothing, do they.” He did add that the EU remained open, by which he meant that if the British Government manages by some miracle to pull its collective head out of its collective arse, then the EU would like to hear some proposals which are grounded in reality and not based in the British nationalist delusions of British exceptionalism.
Tusk’s comments reinforce the denial of the Irish Government that it is coming under pressure from the EU to agree to the British plan. This exercise in wishful British thinking – well, I say “thinking” – was aired in some pro-Brexit cheerleading papers this week. For a certain type of British nationalist it is unthinkable that little Ireland should have greater international clout than the mighty UK. It has always the role of the UK to boss Ireland about, not for Ireland to tell the UK how things are going to be. Welcome to the new reality Brextremists.
The realisation that the UK now has less international clout than Ireland does as a member of the EU will prove to be a humiliating lesson for British nationalists. It should also be a lesson for those opponents of Scottish independence who insist that Scotland must be a part of the UK in order to have wider influence in the world. Ireland is a part of a union which supports its interests. The rest of the EU is standing behind Ireland to ensure that Irish interests are protected and defended. Scotland has had precisely zero influence on the outcome of Brexit. There is no one else who is standing up for Scotland’s interests. We are isolated and powerless within the UK. Estonia (population 1.5 million), and Malta (population 460,000), have more influence on the outcome of Brexit than Scotland does.
There’s only one country in the British Isles which is an equal partner in a family of nations. It’s not Scotland.
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