A New Way Forward for Northern Ireland

As I post this UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen are giving a joint press conference about the new Windsor Framework which has been agreed in principle and announced this afternoon as the basis for the parties to consider about the future for Northern Ireland.

Obviously everyone will have to look at the details but on the face of it this looks like a massive step forward.

On the basis of what has been announced this agreement appears to deliver smooth trade throughout the UK while protecting Northern Ireland's place in the Union and without introducing a land border in Ireland. It also is fantastic news for scientists that when it is agreed Britain will be able to take part in Horizon again.

There will undoubtedly be much more to see on this, but it looks like a deal to be greatly welcomed.


Paul Holdsworth said…
Fantastic! The Tories have Got Brexit Done! AGAIN!

I know, I know, we're not allowed to point out the lies of Tory politicians on here, despite you being happy to blame the electorate for those liars - see your entry on 4th Feb 2023.

I'm sure suggesting it was untrue to claim "We got Brexit done" is just me quibbling over semantics in your alternative universe, Chris. It's always dismissed as semantic cheeseparing whenever a statement turns out to have been vague, confusing, disingenuous or just downright untrue (unless it's a politician of a different stripe to your own that's talking).

With inflation running rampant (due in part to Mad Lizzie and her explosive month or so in No. 10, courtesy of the Tory Party) a favourite obfuscation at the moment is to counter criticism of anything (most things, actually) falling apart after 13 years of Tory government, is to say "we're spending records amounts on (whatever it is that's falling apart)".

That's not a necessarily a lie, of course (although sometimes it is). But it's completely unhelpful to ensuring the electorate know what the hell is going on.

When my missus says our home is colder than ever, it would unhelpful to say "but we're spending record amounts on home heating!"

We've never spent more on home heating, but we've never had a cooler home. The Tories Got Brexit Done, except you didn't - and still haven't.

Perhaps I should heed Maggie's advice, and "Just rejoice"? No, perhaps not. Not until Brexit Gets Done, at least.
Paul Holdsworth said…
Just seen that Sunak is describing NI as“the world’s most exciting economic zone” because it is IN the Single Market!

As long ago as 2015 arch-Brexit fantasist Daniel Hannan said "Absolutely nobody is talking about threatening our place in the Single Market" - and then we left it.

Is our PM now admitting it was a massive mistake to leave the Single Market? Can England please now rejoin “the world’s most exciting economic zone”, along with Northern Ireland?
Paul Holdsworth said…
No thoughts on this, Chris? It's widely seen as an admission that we shouldn't have left the Single Market and/or quite the blunder by Sunak, after all.
Chris Whiteside said…
I've been reading through the deal because the devil is so often with the details with things like this, but I thought I had made pretty clear that I thought the Windsor Framework looked like a good deal which should be welcomed and accepted.

I made clear before the 2016 vote that one of my three reasons for voting Remain was that I thought the issue of Northern Ireland would be incredibly difficult to deal with because nobody in their right mind wants to reintroduce a hard border in Ireland, a border in the Irish Sea between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK is completely unacceptable, and therefore borders between Britain and the EU would present some extremely difficult challenges, as indeed they have.

I've not changed that opinion, and I was always concerned about whether the Protocol would work.

We can now see with hindsight that it clearly didn't, although I don't place all the blame for that on Boris Johnson - the Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has rightly said mistakes were made on all sides in the handling of Brexit, and conceded that the post-Brexit protocol was “too strict.”

I have always made clear that if I were taken back to 2016 knowing what I know now I would still vote Remain. I think there is a strong argument that we would be in a better place if the 2015-2017 and 2017-2019 parliaments had managed to agree on a softer Brexit.

Unfortunately we had a clash in which different groups of hardliners none of whom would give an inch, from those who wanted to frustrate the democratic vote of the people to those who wanted a "no deal brexit" managed to prevent any solution in between from getting a majority.

It was always obvious that some of those hardliners would end up by causing more or less the exact opposite of what they wanted. The "No Deal" Brexiteers came very close to stopping Brexit from happening at all, and the MPs who were actually trying to stop Brexit altogether ended up helping to land the country with a very "hard Brexit," which was much more hardline than we could have had if MPs had been a bit more willing to compromise.

Do I think that the PM has made a gaffe by admitting that this deal improves what was in the previous "oven ready" deal and therefore implying that the Protocol part of the deal was far from perfect ?

No, I take the possibly idealistic view that if something is very obviously not working, it is never a gaffe to admit it and try to replace it with something better.
Paul Holdsworth said…
I can agree with much of that. The inevitable conclusion is surely that we should indeed be rejoining the single msrket?
Paul Holdsworth said…
I can agree with much of that. The inevitable conclusion is that, as (with hindsight) a rock-hard Brexit is not working for England (or Scotland or Wales), we should indeed be rejoining the single market. Shame neither major party can bring themselves to say so!

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