U.K. & EU Fight Over Northern Ireland

Jun 2014
Cleveland, Ohio

BRUSSELS — European Council President Donald Tusk says he hopes to hear suggestions from British Prime Minister Theresa May on how to keep the Irish border open following Brexit, after she rejected the EU’s proposal.

May says the plan to keep Northern Ireland in the EU’s customs union would “undermine the constitutional integrity of the U.K.”

Tusk said Thursday that “in a few hours I will be asking in London whether the U.K. government has a better idea that would be as effective in preventing a hard border.”

He said “no one has come up with anything wiser” than the option outlined in the EU’s draft Brexit withdrawal text, which aims to keep people, goods, services and money flowing between the U.K.’s territory and EU member Ireland.

The Republic of Ireland (Southern Ireland or the Irish Free State, etc.) is not a part of the U.K., but Northern Ireland is.

More on that here: https://www.irishpost.co.uk/life-style/difference-uk-britain-british-isles-north-south-ireland-explained-85459

Thus, the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland is international, and since the Republic of Ireland is and will continue to be a member of the EU, that's a big deal for trade, etc.

The Irish prime minister has said it is “not OK” for Theresa May to renege on a deal involving a “backstop” solution to the Irish border question that could mean Northern Ireland remaining in the customs union.

Dublin showed growing signs of frustration with the British government on Wednesday after the UK prime minister appeared to retreat from the agreement she made in December.


Varadkar’s deputy, Simon Coveney, warned it would be “hard to see” how May could deliver on her promise of an invisible border if the UK left the customs union and the single market.


“The problem here is the British government’s stated position [in December], and still now, is they want to make sure there is no border infrastructure between Northern Ireland and Ireland, they don’t want trade barriers between Northern Ireland and the UK, and that the UK is leaving the customs union and the single market – and those things are simply not compatible.

“It’s hard to see that being done if the British government continues to pursue leaving the customs union and the single market; it’s hard to see how you avoid border structures in that kind of context,” he said.


For the most part, this subject is above my paygrade. It's literally byzantine in its complexity and all the disputes appear to center on the economic impacts of Brexit, which I don't feel I have any handle on either.

Your thoughts? Is it possible, IYO, that all this fighting over Northern Ireland could undermine the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, and actual warfare break out again in this region? Twenty years is not long, for a peace accord that ended 800 years of conflict.

Nobody seems to think UK PM May is particularly useful. Could she fuck this up that badly, do you think?
Feb 2010
Sunny Bournemouth, Dorset
If Britain leaves, especially with no deal, then a de facto land border will exist between Northern Ireland which will have left the EU, and Ireland, (Eire) which remains a member. If that happens then Britain will be in breach of the Good Friday peace agreement, and there's every chance (and already stirrings) that the sectarian violence there will restart.
Likes: Madeline
Oct 2014
British expat in USA
With the Irish Republic updating some of its laws to make it less of a Catholic theocracy, I think the possibility of Irish unification has significantly increased. It's probably still very small, but if the reality of a hard border becomes too much to live with and if the hard-right government in London is more concerned to drop the customs agreement than to have peace in Ireland, it might be a viable alternative.

Then if Scotland decides to have another independence referendum in order to get back into the EU, we really could see the UK breaking up.
Sep 2012
Ireland will one day become one island with one government. Brexit will accelerate this inevitability. The deep religious schisms that created much of the strife in the past have diminished. The Irish Catholic church is no longer as strict or as powerful as it was decades ago. The people of Ireland share more with each other then they do with Englishmen. Just look at the celebration on both sides of Ireland when an Irishman won the Open.

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