Michel Barnier rebuffs UK calls for flexibility on the Irish Border

Chief negotiator says EU ready to improve proposal but will not accept British ideas for compromise

Michel Barnier has rebuffed British calls for the European Union to soften its stance on the contested issue of the Irish border and said a “moment of truth” was fast approaching on a Brexit deal.

May will appeal directly to EU leaders at a summit in Salzburg to soften their stance over UK access to the single market and customs union. She is expected to tell them on Wednesday night that Brussels needs to shift. A senior No 10 official said: “To come to a successful conclusion, just as the UK has evolved its position, the EU will need to do the same.”

Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, said the bloc was ready to improve its proposal on avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland but stopped short of accepting British ideas for compromise, after the Brexit secretary, Dominic Raab, called on the EU to show flexibility.

“The European council in October will be the moment of truth, it is the moment when we shall see if we have an agreement,” Barnier said.

The Irish border has emerged as the biggest stumbling block to the Brexit deal that Theresa May hopes to strike with the EU this autumn. While the EU and UK have agreed there should be no hard border to prevent any return to violence, they are deadlocked over how to manage what will become a 310-mile frontier between the UK and EU.

Both sides have proposed fallback plans, known as backstops, that would kick into place if trade talks fail to settle the question. The EU’s involves Northern Ireland following EU law on customs and goods, a plan May has said no British prime minister could ever accept.

Barnier said the EU was working to improve its proposal, adding that the problem had been caused by “the UK’s decision to leave the EU, its single market and the customs union”. Seeking to counter British criticism that the EU plan eroded UK sovereignty, he said: “What we talking about here is not a land border, not a sea border, it is a set of technical checks and controls. We respect the territorial integrity of the UK and we respect the constitutional order of the UK.”

Barnier was speaking after a 90-minute meeting with the EU’s 27 European affairs ministers at a summit in Brussels. Many countries intervened in the debate to stress the importance of reaching a deal and its timing.

Ireland’s deputy prime minister, Simon Coveney, got a full update from Barnier on the backstop developments and later described his meeting as “excellent”. The Irish cabinet had earlier agreed to hire 451 new staff for border duties out of a total of 1,077 needed for ports and airports.

Ireland is among several EU countries concerned that having an emergency summit in November will take the pressure off the British in the coming weeks.

May will appeal to EU leaders at a summit in Salzburg to soften their stance over UK access to the single market and customs union. She is expected to tell them on Wednesday night that Brussels needs to shift. A senior No 10 official said: “To come to a successful conclusion, just as the UK has evolved its position, the EU will need to do the same.”

Downing Street believes that the UK has developed its negotiating position to reach the Chequers plan and it is now time for other EU countries to show some flexibility in order to finally strike a deal. The prime minister will argue that with “goodwill and determination” the UK and the EU could avoid a “disorderly” Brexit that would be damaging for both sides and instead strike a deal that benefited both.

“Neither side can demand the ‘unacceptable’ of the other, such as an external customs border between different parts of the United Kingdom. No other country would accept it if they were in the same situation,” she will say.

May will tell her fellow leaders that the EU’s current proposal does not respect the constitutional and economic integrity of the UK as it effectively suggests a customs border down the Irish Sea with its backstop plan.

She is expected to deny suggestions by EU officials that the UK is attempting to cherry-pick by seeking the rights of membership without the obligations.

“That is not what we are doing,” she will say. “What we are proposing is a fair arrangement that will work for the EU’s economy as well as the UK’s, without undermining the single market.”

No 10 has been cautiously optimistic in recent days that the UK can expect a softening of tone at the Salzburg summit from some EU leaders who are keen to nail down a Brexit deal this autumn.

It remains to be seen whether that translates into a shift in negotiating position from Brussels, where officials have been more sceptical. The EU27 will wait to discuss next steps, including whether to relax Barnier’s negotiating mandate, until May has left the room.

Meanwhile, Brussels is preparing to step up its legal action against the UK in a case of alleged customs fraud. The European commission has accused HM Revenue and Customs of negligence in controls that enabled Chinese fraudsters to evade duties, causing a €2.7bn (£2.4bn) loss to the EU budget.

The commission will announce the next step in the process on Wednesday, the final stage before it can take the government to the European court of justice.

Brussels launched the action in March, and British officials see the timing of the latest move – on the eve of the Salzburg summit – as provocative. “I can only speculate on the reasons, but it seems pretty obvious what is going on,” a No 10 insider said.

A government spokesman said: “The UK does not accept liability for the alleged losses or recognise the estimate of alleged duty evaded. We take customs fraud very seriously and we continue to evolve our response as new threats emerge.”

The alleged fraud has raised tensions between the EU and UK, contributing to mistrust about British officials’ ability to collect duties on behalf of the bloc, as proposed by the government in its unprecedented customs partnership.

With many thanks to: The Guardian for the original story.

Brexit: UK ‘has two weeks’ to submit border plans

Irish border

Disagreements remain over how the Irish border should be treated after Brexit

The UK must submit written proposals on how it plans to keep a frictionless Irish border after Brexit in the next two weeks, Ireland’s foreign minister has said.
Simon Coveney said if that does not happen the UK will face an uncertain summer of talks.
Both the UK and EU say they are committed to keeping the Irish border open after Brexit.
However, a practical solution has not been agreed.
Brexit: All you need to know
Full text of the EU-UK statement
The EU and Ireland both insist Britain’s withdrawal treaty must lock in a backstop arrangement guaranteeing Northern Ireland will abide by EU regulations in case a future trade pact does not remove the need for border controls.
Britain has signed up to this, but has rejected the EU’s interpretation of what the backstop means.
“In the next two weeks, we need to see written proposals, it needs to happen two weeks from the summit,” Mr Coveney told the Irish Times newspaper, referring to a June summit of EU leaders that is supposed to mark significant progress on the issue.
“If there is no progress on the backstop, we are in for an uncertain summer.
“At this point we need written proposals on the Irish backstop consistent with what was agreed. We await written proposals from the British side.”
In February, the EU proposed a backstop which would involve the UK, in respect of Northern Ireland, maintaining full alignment with those rules of the EU’s single market and customs union which support north-south cooperation.
Prime Minister Theresa May said she could never agree to that as it would “threaten the constitutional integrity of the UK by creating a customs and regulatory border down the Irish Sea”.

With many thanks to: BBC News for the original story.

 

Secretary of State for the North of Ireland Speech to the British – Irish Association Annual Conference

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, the Rt Hon Karen Bradley MP, gave the following speech to the Annual Conference of the British-Irish Association on Friday 7 September 2018.

Delivered on:
7 September 2018 (Speaker’s notes, may differ from delivered version)

Secretary of State Karen Broadly, photographed at Stormont House.

Since 1972 the BIA has played a key role in bringing together politicians, civil servants, academics, business people, faith leaders, journalist, commentators and many more to promote dialogue and understanding throughout these islands and to try and shape a better future together.

So thank you for everything you have done and I am sure will continue to do in the years to come.

This is of course my first BIA conference since the Prime Minister asked me to take on the role of Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in January, something that I had absolutely no hesitation in accepting.

And as Secretary of State, I know what an amazing place Northern Ireland is and what it has to offer.

Indeed, it’s not surprising that nearly all of my predecessors look back on their time with huge affection, with a number regarding it as the most rewarding and important job they ever had in government.

So as I’ve gone out and about over the past nine months, meeting as many people as I can, it’s impossible not to be struck by the warmth of the place. Its beauty, its spirit and, yes, its history but also its massive potential.

I’ve made a point of visiting with my family some of the great attractions that Northern Ireland has to offer: the Fermanagh lakes, the Giant’s Causeway, the Titanic Visitor attraction, to name but a few. And each time they can’t wait to come back for more.

So Northern Ireland is a very special place, and I believe one with a great future.

And this year of course we have been marking the 20th anniversary of the Belfast or Good Friday Agreement, an historic landmark in the history not just of Northern Ireland but of these islands as a whole.

It was, as I said in April, a triumph of politics over the previous decades of violence, division and despair.

Twenty years on it is perhaps easy for some to lose sight of the magnitude of what was achieved in 1998.

So let me spell some them out.

The constitutional position of Northern Ireland settled on the principle of consent.

The Irish constitution amended to reflect that fact.

Political institutions to accommodate and give expression to both the main traditions in Northern Ireland.

Strong new bodies to foster greater North-South and East-West co-operation.

Powerful protections for people’s rights, culture and identities.

Reforms to make policing and the criminal justice system more accountable and acceptable across the community.

And of course the consequences of all of this: a more peaceful, stable and prosperous Northern Ireland that is in so many ways unrecognisable since the dark days of the troubles, notwithstanding the severe threat we continue to face from dissident republicans.

All of these gains were hard fought, the result of years of painstaking discussions and negotiations, and we should never forget just how precious they are or indeed shy away from making the case for the 1998 Agreement.

It is our duty to do whatever is necessary to protect and defend it, and that is what this Government will continue to do.

So let me reiterate for the avoidance of any doubt: the UK Government remains steadfast in its support for the Belfast Agreement, the bedrock on which the progress across the three interlocking relationships – within Northern Ireland, between Northern Ireland and Ireland and between the UK and Ireland – has been made over the past twenty years.

We will do nothing that undermines this, including as the UK leaves the EU next March.

And over recent years Northern Ireland has continued to take many great steps forward, not least on the economy.

Unemployment, which in 2010 stood at just over 7 per cent, is now 3.8 per cent, one of the lowest figures on record and significantly below the EU average.

Meanwhile employment, at just over 69 per cent, is at near record levels. In all, 63,000 more people are in work in Northern Ireland today than in 2010 … with nearly 19,000 new jobs in the past year. That’s more people with the security of a regular pay packet for them and their families.

Average weekly earnings have grown at a faster rate in Northern Ireland than in any other UK region.

There are over 12,000 more businesses than was the case 8 years ago.

Over 900 overseas companies have invested in Northern Ireland, making it the most popular location for FDI outside of London and the South East – the highest number of FDI jobs per head of any part of the UK.

Since 2011, exports are up by 11per cent, and external sales, including to the rest of the UK, are up 18 per cent.

Tourism is booming, as anyone who has seen the cruise ships docked in Belfast this year will testify.

We have more people staying for longer than ever before, with impressive new hotels to accommodate them and more in the pipeline.

And of course next year the eyes of the world will once again be on Northern Ireland as the oldest and most famous golfing championship in the word, the Open, is played at Royal Portrush.

None of this has happened by accident. It has been the result of the hard work of the people of Northern Ireland, with productivity increasing in Northern Ireland at a faster rate than in any other UK region.

And, I might add, a fiscally responsible UK Government prepared to take the necessary measures and pursue policies at a national level to allow business and enterprise to thrive across the whole of the UK, with the result that we now have the lowest levels of unemployment across the country than at any time in over 40 years.

A UK Government that despite severe pressures on public expenditure continues to recognise Northern Ireland’s special circumstances through generous support in the Block Grant.

We have maintained public spending in Northern Ireland at around 20 per cent per head higher than the UK average.

Over the current spending review period UK Government financial support to the Northern Ireland Executive has increased by 5 per cent in real terms.

The Prime Minister’s recent pledge of an additional £20.5 billion to the NHS by 2024, which means an extra £760 million a year by 2023-24 for Northern Ireland under the Barnett formula.

We’ve helped hard working people: some 745,000 people in Northern Ireland will have gained by an average of £182 as a result of our increases to the personal allowance and higher rate tax threshold.

We’ve increased the National Living Wage to £7.83, delivering a £600 annual pay rise to full-time workers in Northern Ireland.

And we’ve committed substantial additional security funding to help the PSNI tackle the continuing terrorist threat: £160 million over this spending review period and £230 million in the last one.

These are just a few examples of how Northern Ireland has shared in our national economic recovery in recent years, and how Northern Ireland benefits from the strength and security of being part of the world’s fifth largest economy.

Yet for all the successes there are significant challenges too.

Economic growth in the past year has been flat, lower than the UK as a whole and in Ireland.

Rates of economic inactivity remain higher than in other parts of the UK.

Hospital waiting lists are longer than in England and are getting worse.

There are other examples of where a current lack of ministerial decision making is holding Northern Ireland back.

Corporation tax has yet to be devolved, meaning that Northern Ireland remains at an economic disadvantage when it comes to competing for foreign direct investment with Ireland.

Construction projects worth up to £2bn are at risk due to the lack of key planning decisions, including plans for a new £30m quay for cruise ships, a new £175m transport hub for Belfast, a £280m power plant, the North-South electricity interconnector worth around £200m and a £50m office block at Belfast Harbour.

Strategies for building a stronger society and a shared future, as well as tackling paramilitary activity, have lost momentum.

And of course while I continue to ensure that Northern Ireland’s interests and needs are represented at the heart of Government, Northern Ireland would be better placed to meet the challenges and opportunities of Brexit with an Executive in place.

In the absence of a devolved Executive we have brought forward measures at Westminster to ensure good governance and stability.

In July the Government took a budget through Westminster to enable the continued delivery of public services

And before the summer recess I announced plans to bring forward legislation enabling me to make key public appointments, for example to a reconstituted Policing Board.

But none of this is any substitute for devolution – a locally elected Assembly and Executive taking decisions on behalf of all the people of Northern Ireland.

And while I am not saying that a devolved government would solve all the problems I’ve just mentioned overnight, I am convinced that it could make a real difference to people’s lives and helping to unlock even further the undoubted and enormous potential that Northern Ireland has to offer.

The absolute priority, therefore, for this Government – as I know it is the Irish Government – is to see a restoration of the devolved power sharing institutions at Stormont, and all the other related bodies, at the earliest opportunity.

And yesterday in the House of Commons I set out a plan to try help bring that about.

I announced that I intend to bring forward legislation that will provide for a limited and prescribed period in which there will be no legal obligation to set a date for an election.

Importantly, during this time an Executive may be formed at any point without the requirement for further legislation. This will provide the opportunity to re-establish political talks aimed at restoring the Executive as soon as possible.

The legislation I intend to introduce after the party conference recess will also include provisions to give greater clarity and certainty to enable NI departments to continue to take decisions in Northern Ireland in the public interest and to ensure the continued delivery of public services.

I intend to consult parties in Northern Ireland over how this might best be done.

I also intend, therefore, to use the next few weeks to engage in further discussions with the parties and the Irish Government, in accordance with the well-established three stranded approach with the intention of establishing a basis for moving into more formal political dialogue that leads to a restoration of the institutions.

Finally, I also announced that I would be bringing forward a reduction in MLA pay.

I believe that the people of Northern Ireland want to see a restoration of their political institutions and that is what this Government is committed to achieving.

Stable and effective devolved government is the right thing for Northern Ireland.

And I am in no doubt that it is best for the Union.

ends –

With many thanks to: GOV.UK for the original posting.

Media queries should be directed to Bob Honey, NIO Communications Team, on 07956 579 286

Follow this link to find out more: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/secretary-of-state-speech-to-the-british-irish-association-annual-conference

I would call on all like-minded people to boycott the upcoming vist of US President Donald Trump to Ireland in November the whole 32 Counties for his treatment off the Palestinian people

The United States is ending all funding for the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency, the US State Department says.

It described the organisation, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (Unrwa), as “irredeemably flawed”.

The US administration has “carefully reviewed” the issue and “will not make additional contributions to Unrwa,” spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.

A spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas later said the move was an “assault” against his people.

“Such a punishment will not succeed to change the fact that the United States no longer has a role in the region and that it is not a part of the solution,” Nabil Abu Rudeina told Reuters news agency.

He added that the decision was “a defiance of UN resolutions”.

A spokesman for Unrwa, Chris Gunness, defended the agency in a series of tweets.

“We reject in the strongest possible terms the criticism that Unrwa’s schools, health centres, and emergency assistance programs are ‘irredeemably flawed’,” he wrote.

The latest move comes after the US announced back in January that it would withhold more than half of a tranche of funding for the agency.

What is Unrwa?

Unrwa was originally set up to take care of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians displaced by the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.

The agency says it currently supports more than five million Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, including providing health care, education and social services.

The US has been the largest single donor to Unrwa, providing $368m (£284m) in 2016 and funding almost 30% of its operations in the region.

The Trump administration had pledged $60m to Unrwa in January, but withheld another $65m.

The remaining payment of $65m is now expected to be cancelled.

Why is the US critical of Unrwa?

The US disagrees with Unrwa, and Palestinian officials, on a number of issues.

US President Donald Trump has previously complained that the US received “no appreciation or respect” for the large sums of aid it provided to the region.

Earlier this year, he threatened to cut aid to the Palestinians over what he called their unwillingness to negotiate with Israel.

Image captionThe US has said Unrwa needs to become more accountable

The US and Israel also disagree with Unrwa on which Palestinians are refugees with a right to return to the homes they fled following the 1948 war.

Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, said earlier this week that Unrwa exaggerated the number of Palestinian refugees, and needed to reform.

“You’re looking at the fact that, yes, there’s an endless number of refugees that continue to get assistance, but more importantly, the Palestinians continue to bash America,” she said.

The state department says the US is contributing a “very disproportionate share of the burden of Unrwa’s costs”.

It complains of a business model and fiscal practices, linked to an “exponentially expanding community of entitled beneficiaries”, which is “unsustainable and has been in crisis mode for many years”.

What does the Palestinian side say?

On Friday, the Palestinian ambassador to Washington, Hossam Zomlot, accused the US of “endorsing the most extreme Israeli narrative on all issues including the rights of more than five million Palestinian refugees”.

The US “is damaging not only an already volatile situation but the prospects for future peace”, he told AFP.

Image captionNikki Haley has criticised Palestinian officials for “bashing America”

Palestinian officials have already accused the Trump administration of worsening tensions due to its pro-Israel stance.

In December, Mr Trump controversially recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, despite it being claimed by both sides.

His move overturned decades of US neutrality on the issue, attracted international criticism, and led to the Palestinian Authority cutting off dialogue in Washington.

In May, the US also opened an embassy in Jerusalem, a move described by Palestinian officials as a “blatant provocation”.

What’s the Israeli view?

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has previously called for Unrwa’s funding to be cut gradually and its responsibilities transferred to the UN’s global refugee agency, the UNHCR, arguing that it “perpetuates the Palestinian problem”.

However, he said that “every step taken also contains some risk”.

Some Israelis have raised concerns that weakening Unrwa could cause regional instability and create more extremism in the region.

How has the international community reacted?

Earlier on Friday, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said his country would increase its contributions to the agency because its funding crisis was fuelling uncertainty.

“The loss of this organisation could unleash an uncontrollable chain reaction,” Mr Maas said.

Meanwhile, the UN’s secretary general, Antonio Guterres, has said he has “full confidence” in Unrwa, and called on other countries “to help fill the remaining financial aid.

With many thanks to: BBC England for the original story.

DUP’s only ambition is hard Irish border

LORD Adonis says the DUP want the hardest Brexit because all they want is a hard border for cultural and political reasons, note not economic.

The DUP’s sole contribution to the Brexit negotiations has been to use every opportunity to block the only chance of avoiding a border by resisting any and every attempt to devise a backstop

The great advantage for them is that they can blame the British for the outcome. Lies, all lies, say the DUP while hurling personal abuse at Adonis. Of course he’s right. When did the DUP stop wanting a border as hard as possible? After all, at one stage Peter Robinson wanted a fence, extolling the Israeli model he visited at the illegally occupied Golan Heights. The evidence supports Adonis.

The DUP’s sole contribution to the Brexit negotiations has been to use every opportunity to block the only chance of avoiding a border by resisting any and every opportunity to block the only chance of avoiding a border by resisting any and every attempt to devise a backstop.

It was the DUP which raised the hare that the north staying in the customs union and single market had ‘constitutional implications’. Not a bit of it. Britain gave Hong Kong back to China in 1997. Beijing is sovereign and decides who runs Hong Kong but Hong Kong still has a separate customs and tax arrangements. There are several examples of countries which have more than one tariff and tax system. Besides, all agricultural produce coming into the north is already checked at the ports.

During the Second World War patriotic, jingoistic unionists had no objection to the north not having conscription like, all together now, ‘the rest of the UK’, No one remembers any unionist begging, – ‘Conscript us too.’ Furthermore you had to have an ID card to travel to Britain during the war and some years afterwards. Any constitutional implications there?

However, do you smell any hypocrisy? Despite the DUP and their friends amoung the more repellent Brexiteers successfully holding up progress on the backstop which without question would be economically and socially benicial to everyone in the north, the pathetic Theresa May still indulges them. Truly, as George Osborne said last year, she is a dead woman walking. Her moderate, sensible MP’s watch with astonishment as she staggers on absorbing the blows and ridicule of ideologues in her party and their DUP spear carriers. That’s what she was doing her last week.

She knew she would achieve nothing except please the DUP and reckoned the humiliation was worth it. Can you imagine a two-and-a-half-hour dinner with that lot? That’s one occasion when you wouldn’t want to be a fly on the wall. You’d have dropped off with boredom. Famously when she was home secretary May was known to journalists covering parliament as ‘the worst lunch in Westminster’. Awkward silences, robotic answers, empty soliloquies, blank recorder. Now add to that the wit of the scintillating Foster and dour Dodds. What a sparkler that dinner must have been.

Only Arelene Foster, perhaps not for the first time, didn’t seem to understand what she was doing inviting May to Fermanagh. Who did she think she was representing? Not the 58.6 per cent of Fermanagh/South Tyrone voters who voted Remain in a 68 per cent turnout. In fact what the DUP were doing last week was a microcosm of what they have been doing since June 2016 and that is misrepresting the peoe of the north.

By doing their damnedest to prevent a backstop and thereby ensure a hard border the DUP are damaging the futures of everyone in the north. At no point have they presented any plans to replace the EU subsidies which pay 87 per cent of farm income here or the Peace IV funding which supplies millions of pounds to the north. What has the DUP proposed should be done after 2020? Nothing.

What have they asked the British government to do? When you look, you find the DUP has no independent positions on any Brexit issue but one. Thy pathetically parrot the latest line Theresa May squawks, including about the Chequers white paper which Depooty Dodds supported before his friends left in tatters on the floor of the Commons. No doubt Depooty Dodds is waiting for Theresa May’s next pronouncement on Chequers so that he knows what line to take. The only specific action the DUP has taken is to ensure a hard border.

With many thanks to: Brian Feeney and The Irish News for the original story.

Leave voters would rather lose the North of Ireland than give up the benefits of Brexit

This article was first published in the Telegraph

By Lord Ashcroft

It seems ironic, when we remember the sound and fury generated on both sides of the referendum campaign, that the biggest sticking point in the Brexit negotiations – the Irish border – is one that was hardly mentioned before the vote. As with so much in politics, how you see this conundrum depends on who you are and where you sit.

My latest research finds that for Nationalists in Northern Ireland, the practicality of customs checks is almost beside the point: any kind of border in an island that they see as one country is unthinkable. For them, avoiding a hard border eclipses any other potential goal of the Brexit negotiations.

But most Unionists in Northern Ireland, especially those who voted to leave the EU, believe the border issue is being deliberately exaggerated. Most think technology would make customs checks quick and easy, and do not believe a border must necessarily be a problem: as one North Antrim voter put it, “there are countries in the EU that have got a border with non-EU countries. Look and learn.” Avoiding a hard border came much lower on the Unionists’ Brexit priority list than ensuring the UK could negotiate its own trade deals and was no longer bound by EU rules.

This view is heartily shared by Leave voters in England, Scotland and Wales. Given the choice of leaving the customs union and avoiding a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic, two thirds of them said they would rather leave the customs union.

But while Northern Ireland Unionists are determined that they should have the same deal as the rest of the UK, only one third of voters in Britain say it would be unacceptable for Northern Ireland to have a different EU status from the rest of the country; almost as many say this would be tolerable to get a workable deal.

There is more uncomfortable news for Unionists. A majority in Britain said Northern Ireland’s place in the UK was up to its people to decide – but if the province voted to leave, most said they wouldn’t mind either way. We also asked Leave voters in Britain whether they would leave the EU, or keep England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales together in the UK, if it were impossible to do both. Most, including more than seven in 10 Tory voters, said they would rather leave the EU.

Most people on both sides think the Brexit process is taking too long. Remainers largely blame politicians pushing for a hard Brexit, but Leave voters accuse those who want to prevent or soften our withdrawal, or the EU and European governments. While no-one envies Theresa May her task, leavers say they would see any extended “implementation period”, during which the UK continued to abide by Brussels rules, as an excuse for keeping us in the EU for as long as possible, rather than a genuine attempt to get our post-Brexit arrangements right.

Given these views – impatience with the process, determination for the UK to operate an independent trade policy, and the suspicion that Brexit opponents are deliberately throwing up hurdles – it is not hard to imagine how Leave voters would react if told the UK would not be taking back as much control as they hoped because of the Irish border, an issue they believe is being blown out of proportion.

Those who have pondered Brexit’s consequences for UK union have usually focused on the resentment felt in places where majorities voted to remain in the EU. There is certainly something in this. To many of the Remain voters we spoke to in Northern Ireland, their neighbour looked comparatively more modern and prosperous by the year. When we asked how people would vote in a referendum tomorrow, staying in the UK outpolled unification by just 49 per cent to 44 per cent. (Steady on, came the reply: a majority in the Republic said they were in favour of a united Ireland in principle, but it would not be practical or affordable for them in the next few years).

But there is another risk: that a question like the Irish border, which most Leave voters see as a relatively minor practical issue that could be resolved, should prevent the majority getting the Brexit they think they voted for.

Download the Full Report: ‘Brexit, the Border and the Union’

With many thanks to: Lord Ashcroft for the origional posting LORDASHCROFT.COM

Follow this link to find out more: https://lordashcroftpolls.com/

Catholics will outnumber North’s Protestants by the centenary of the state of the North of Ireland.

CATHOLICS will outnumber Protestants in the North of Ireland by 2021, a leading academic has suggested.

Dr Paul Nolan speaking at a meeting of interface community workers in Belfast hosted by The Community Relations Council.

The 2011 official census figures put the Protestant population at 48 per cent, and Catholics at 45 per cent, while more recent figures from 2016 show 44 per cent of working age adults are Catholic and 40 per cent Protestant.

Paul Nolan, an Independant researcher, best known for the three North of Ireland Peace Monitoring Reports, told BBCNI news it is likely by the centenary of the fundation of the state Catholics will out-number Protestants.

“Three years from now we will end up, I think, in the ironic situation on the centenary of the state where we actually have a state that has a Catholic majority,” he said.

He said there is no need for this predicition to cause undue alarm amoung unionists as being a Catholic does not necessarily mean supporting a United Ireland.

Mr Nolan pointed out that although 45 per cent identified in the 2011 census as being from a Catholic background, only 25 per cent claimed an exclusively Irish identity.

“The future of unionism depends entirely upon one thing – and I mean unionism with a small ‘u’ – it depends on winning the support of people who do not regard themselves to be unionists with a capital ‘U’,” he said.

“In other words people who do not identify with the traditional trappings of unionism; people who would give their support for a UK government framework and that’s a sizeable proportion of Catholics provided they are not alienated by any form of triumphalism or anything that seems to be a rejection of their cultural identity as nationalists.”

He suggested it is likely debate on a future United Ireland would move to whether it might mean “two paraliaments – one in Belfast and one in Dublin”.

” I think the more that gets unpacted, the more opinion will move back and forward. It’s not going to go just in one direction,” the academic said. His analysis comes after DUP leader Arlene Foster said she would “probably” leave in the event of a United Ireland.

Party colleague Christopher Salford said while Ms Foster’s veiws were “reflective of a lot of unionists [who] feel they would effectively be pushed into the Irish sea”, he would be amoung any exodus. ” For my part though, I would never leave this island,” he said. “We need to show that you can be British and Irish at the same time.” Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald said unionists “have to be at home in a new Ireland” and nothing, from the flag to the anthem would be “taboo”.

With many thanks to: The Irish News and Bimpe Archer for the origional story.

 

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