HOLD TIGHT!! Hard Brexit here we come (there’s no doubt about that now)

And all I need to illustrate the accuracy of my statement are three quotes from various key parties following the Salzburg summit:

‘Tusk says Chequers plan for trade not acceptable as it will undermine the single market.’

‘EU leaders arged to stand firm against May by Macron’

‘May says Chequers “only plan” on the table after EU calls it unacceptable.’

On multiple levels this indicates an insurmountable impasse and signals that the trust and understanding between parties – on which the success of any form of negotiation depends – has evaporated.

Brexiteers have been praying for this moment for months/years. Their prayers have been answered.


  1. Peter May -

    But where does that leave no hard border between the two Irelands, which I think was a withdrawal legal undertaking?

    1. Ivan Horrocks -

      Who knows, Peter, except that I note that Tusk his given May a deadline for a workable (as far as the EU is concerned) proposal of mid October, which apparently May has said is not doable until mid November, which, if the case, means there can be no ‘final summit’ in November to ratify a deal. No doubt Sean is watching what various people who are expert on the Brexit debacle are saying on their blogs and could summarise what he’s learnt in due course.

      1. Peter May -

        As I understand it, The European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 para 10/2/b makes it a condition of withdrawal that there will be no border in Ireland. A “no deal” withdrawal is therefore currently illegal. Not that I expect the Brexiteers to have noticed – or even care!

    2. Sean Danaher -


      you are correct, no WA without a legally watertight and binding text. As for what happens next who knows? If the UK doesn’t like the IE/EU solution it has yet to come up with a workable one of its own. I suspect that the UK don’t have workable solution and are playing for time – kicking the can down the road as ever.

      When the sectarian statelet of NI was carved out of Ireland in 1921/22 with the threat of overwhelming force by the UK, it caused a civil war between those who would never have agreed to sign the Treaty and those who reluctantly agreed. As Collins said he signed his death warrant.

      May’s NI Greater Englander Sovereignty pitch regarding some border checks – no country could agree to this may have not have been the best strategy., given the history.

      The DUP mindset seems to have infested Westminster like a virulent form of cancer.

      Of course Chequers was dead on arrival – I wrote a withering blog the day it was released as indeed did Ian Dunt. Chris Grey was equally scathing at the time. He tweeted this earlier today:

      “I think this is the key point about today. From an EU-27 perspective, a fairly polite statement of obvious reality; received in UK as a blistering rebuke. Why? Because a debate almost completely detached from reality has taken root in the UK, and is now running into the buffers.”

      A few points

      1) There seems to be a super-majority in both communities in NI to prefer a sea border over a land one – Kent Study

      2) In the scenario where there is a hard Brexit and a land border there is clear majority for a UI – Delta Poll

      3) Caving in on no land border is politically impossible in Ireland. There seems no conception in Westminster as to that fact.

      4) Ireland is in a far stronger position than the UK for many reasons I won’t go into in detail. But using food as an example. Even at the time of the Great Famine it produced enough food to feed about 16m people with a pop 8-9m. Currently it produces enough to feed c 45m about 10 times its population and has overtaken the US as the most secure food nation in the world. The UK will find things a lot more difficult in a no deal situation.

      Options? – These are sorted by my own preference – not by likelihood

      1) There is a peoples vote and the whole fiasco is reversed. UK stays in the EU.

      2) The UK joins some Norway like solution Norway + CU

      3) The UK accepts the Irish border backstop and goes for a Canada+ solution.

      4) No deal

      1. Ivan Horrocks -

        You are more informed on this subject than I am, Sean, but I know something about power and politics and so from that perspective I’m afraid that in the climate that applies now (and by that I mean the political and power relations – including the position of the media – that apply to Brexit) I cannot see three of the options you set out being deliverable.

        First, nothing that resembles a ‘Norway option’ is a runner: see May’s comments this morning and add to this all the various criticisms of such options that have spouted forth from those who have power and political control of the Brexit process.

        Second, Canada plus – ditto some of the above, but also the fact that such an arrangement could never be negotiated to an adequate conclusion in the time now available (although I assume it would be possible if the transition period were used for further negotiation – something I understand all parties have said should not happen).

        So that leaves the people vote or the no deal option.

        I’m a supporter of another vote, and have read with great interest over the past week or so all the arguments for and against, as well as the various options as to how such a vote could come about. It seems that there’s a fairly unanimous view that such a vote could not take place by Brexit day (for legal and administrative reasons), but in any case even if such a vote happened I have deep concerns about what happens in this country when the outcome is announced – and particularly if the vote is to remain. Furthermore, and as with the points above, I think those who are in positions of power and are controlling the politics have enough of both to stymie a vote.

        Ultimately, therefore I stick with my prognosis that we are heading to exiting with no deal. Indeed, everything I’ve read this morning – which includes May’s statements and also what our neighbours on the continent are saying – leads me to believe that this is even more certain than it was even yesterday afternoon, as I think it’s even clearer today that the necessary conditions for successful negotiation no longer exist. Thus, while May and much of our media and the Brexiteers get ever more threatening and truculent so most of the 27 get ever more sick and tired of the UK and thus the “f— this for a game of soldiers, we’re off” moment has almost certainly arrived.

        Finally, with regard to the legal undertaking about no hard border between NI and Eire, I suspect that when push comes to shove that’s not worth the paper it’s written on. After all, who would enforce it? The EU? In a no deal UK would any Tory government – and particularly one led by an arch Brexiteer as is likely – give a f—? No. It’ll go the same way as the money we owe.

        So, let’s be honest with ourselves. If this were a pay dispute we’d be calling for ACAS as a matter of urgency. But there’s no ACAS to come to the rescue in this case and so there’s not going to be happy ending to this unholy mess – unless you’re Rees-Mogg and his cronies or course, in which case this is heading exactly where you want it to head.

  2. Peter May -

    Have just seen a lovely tweet.
    The FT has a headline apparently saying that “the Chequers plan is not dead, insists May”. He’s retweeted it with the addition: “Neither is Elvis”!

  3. Sean Danaher -

    I think you are right. The Irish use a phrase “away with the fairies” which could be applied to May’s delayed podium speech at number 10.

    Legal undertakings by the UK in the absence of a written constitution are indeed worth very little. The same is true of course of the Irish Sea border.

    I can’t see it ending well for England.

    It is interesting at the very start of the process I put the likelihood of no deal at about 80% and it looks as is that is where we are heading but there will be of course high drama towards the end of the year

    1. Ivan Horrocks -

      ‘Away with the fairies’, about sums up the whole situation, Sean. Ultimately it’s always been very simple hasn’t it and takes us right back to cake. And so goodbye it’s goodbye Danish pasties, Viennese whirls, apple struddles and all the other continental delights, and hello to all those US specialities. No doubt some US cake-maker can come up with an entirely new cake to welcome the UK as the 51st state of the Union.

      1. Andrew (Andy) Crow -

        “No doubt some US cake-maker can come up with an entirely new cake to welcome the UK as the 51st state of the Union.”

        Israel is already the 51st of the Union and has been for decades. I’ve been told just last week, by a commentator down under, that the 52nd State option has already been bagged by Australia.

        So I conclude that at best we’re* looking at being 53rd State of an empire which shows the sort of signs of peripheral and core corruption which indicates it’s collapse is under way.

        Tickets for the Titanic anyone ?

        *When I say ‘we’, I’m using the term to mean Little England, because I’m pretty sure Scotland is set to extricate itself from this poisonous situation and demand independence.

        On the Irish border issue specifically, Stuart Campbell has floated on the Wings Over Scotland website the suggestion that the new, post Brexit border would be better drawn, in many respects, between Scotland and England.

        Both NI and Scotland voted to remain in the EU, so logical result of responding to ‘the will of the People’ would be to redraw the border in accordance with those expressed wishes.

        Westminster opinion doesn’t see this because its view of Europe puts Europe across the channel to the south of London, and sees no other sea routes.

        In political terms this makes sense of a democratic referendum result, if we consider ‘regional’, that is to say national preferences within the UK, rather than pretend the referendum was offering a unanimous approval of ‘Leave’ across the whole of Britain.

        In practical terms a border between Scotland and England is about a third the length of the internal Irish border and has few established crossing points. Not to mention the traditional cross border animosity of the Border Reivers tradition has ceased to be an issue quite a long time ago. Whereas border tensions in Ireland are still potentially a very hot potato.

        This ought to keep everyone happy if we believe the will of the People was expressed in the referendum.

        In due course Wales will perhaps feel confident to join the Celtic union to its west rather than cling to its eastern neighbour….but that’s not for me to say.

        Ireland is said to be investing in its port facilities now, in readiness for increased direct sea trade to the continental mainland.

        Similar expansion of Scottish ports is currently constrained by Westminster’s holding and limiting Scotland’s meagre and grudging housekeeping budget.

  4. Sean Danaher -

    thanks for the links. Yes it is interesting I have been following on twitter.

    I’m not at all sure there will be a 2nd ref. but demographics alone should give a remain majority as the 15-17 year olds in 2016 are very strongly pro-remain and many of the older levers will have died. Having said that the very old 85+ are supposedly pro Remain.

    If I were a Scot I would be really fed up. A supposed Union of equals turns out to be Greater England after all.

  5. Michael Green -

    Things may become a lot clearer within a few days.
    Firstly, it is not certain that the Brexomaniacs will have enough MPs to get No Deal through Parliament, if a substantial majority think it is a really bad idea.
    This will leave Parliament with two fig-leaf options.
    One fig-leaf will be to pretend that a bad deal is a good deal, in which case there may be enough votes to get it through
    The second fig-leaf will be to achieve Remain while saving face by going for a People’s Vote. Although any Brexiters I know are immune to reason, Remain might still scrape home in a referendum.
    We may know the answer quite soon because of the Labour Party Conference. If Hard Momentum can keep Brexit off the agenda, then they may be able to block People’s Vote as an anti-Corbyn plot. If Grass-roots members succeed in getting a People’s Vote through, it will be an attractive option for Tory Remain MPs and there will be a chance.
    I guess it is more likely that Labour will fudge and we will be left with the first fig-leaf. But I can hope.

  6. Peter May -

    But there will be some distinct legal problems with no deal. Because there is in UK legislation:
    No border in Ireland.
    No deal creates one – automatically.

  7. Andrew (Andy) Crow -

    Most of this negotiation could and should have been undertaken before the signing of Article 50.

    Theresa May’s need to appear decisive has led us into the abyss of a very chaotic situation.

    ‘No deal is better than a bad deal’ should have been interpreted as the status quo ante being preferable to a bad Brexit deal. In reality the ‘No Deal’ prospect we are facing is an oxymoron. We cannot have no deal at all with the EU. That really is not an option.

    May had her tail tweaked by a small minority of vociferous ERG Brexiteers in a failing attempt to keep her party intact with no apparent regard for the country as whole….let alone Her two neighbouring countries of Ireland and Scotland.

    Her statement of intent to preserve ‘her’ precious Union, in the aftermath of the Saltzberg rejection of ‘Chequers’, therefore is mere empty rhetoric.

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