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The subject that almost collapses Brexit conversations



  Theresa May walking out of number 10 Downing Street Copyright of image
AFP

The drafting of the UK Brexit agreement with the EU has finally been agreed, but negotiations were about to finish this week on the tinderbox question of the Irish border.

When Theresa May appointed ministers to her specially formed Brexit Cabinet Committee, it was an early sign that she had not understood the importance and importance of the Irish border.

The Secretary of Northern Ireland was notoriously absent from the lineup.

I interviewed James Brokenshire shortly after and had to clumsily defend his exclusion in favor of, among others, the Secretary of International Development and the Conservative President Party.

The truth is that, during those early stages, the Prime Minister was more concerned about keeping his own party united than about addressing the practical problems of Brexit.

The cabinet committee was a carefully balanced selection of outgoing and remaining.

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Pacemaker

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Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire was not appointed to the Cabinet Brexit committee

Also, he seemed to reason, if he included the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, how could he exclude his equivalents representing Scotland and Wales?

However, it did not go unnoticed in Dublin.

From the beginning there has been frustration in what they see as an internal politicking of the party at the expense of dealing with one of the really important issues of Brexit: the border.

& # 39; A way of words & # 39;

From the point of view of the Irish government, since the Brexit vote, Brussels seems more concerned than Westminster because of the implications for Northern Ireland.

From London, the consistent message has been: "We will solve all this when we come to negotiate the talks".

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The Irish government has made it clear that they do not want to see a hard border in place after Brexit

There is some sense in the position of the United Kingdom.

The point of friction has never been about the free movement of people but the transport of goods.

The final trade agreement could ultimately decide if there is a need for customs posts on the island of Ireland.

However, the Irish government is not willing to wait until 201

9.

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Reuters

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There are currently no checkpoints along the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland

He now wants a guarantee of absence of physical presence or infrastructure where Northern Ireland meets the Republic of Ireland.

And since they could veto the negotiations by moving on to that vital trade issue, the UK had to listen.

It was with this in mind that a form of words was developed on Downing Street to satisfy the Irish.

What seems strange is that they did not keep the DUP fully informed.

Derailing the deal

In the midst of all the fuss and what was to be the anticipated celebration of an apparent agreement on Monday, the trade unionists were left fuming.

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Reuters

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The DUP entered into a trust and supply agreement with the Conservatives after the general elections in June

For weeks, they issued quite explicit warnings that Northern Ireland should not be treated differently than England, Scotland or Wales.

The saddest came from Sammy Wilson, the DUP deputy always straight for East Antrim.

He said that anything else could ruin his relationship with the conservative government, which depends on the support of the Democratic Unionists in Westminster.

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Sammy Wilson said that Northern Ireland should not be treated differently or be "medium in" the EU

"If there is any indication that to placate Dublin and the EU, they are willing to treat Northern Ireland differently than the rest of the United Kingdom, then they can not trust our vote," Wilson announced. last Thursday.

Remember that it was only days before the United Kingdom presented the controversial text that derailed the whole deal.

Not showing DUP those words before Theresa May traveled to Brussels seems really remarkable, particularly because they seemed to promise that Northern Ireland would really be treated differently.

They will not accept that Dublin has anything to say in the everyday affairs north of the border and they have even accused the taoiseach Leo Varadkar of pushing Ireland's agenda together in these torturous negotiations.

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Pacemaker

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When security checkpoints were in place, an additional hour could be added to a round trip between Belfast and Dublin

The deputy leader of the DUP, Nigel Dodds, recently exposed the constitutional difficulties for the party to have Northern Ireland tied to EU regulations.

"Northern Ireland would have to have someone other than the United Kingdom to speak for it and vote for it in the European Councils," he told me at the DUP party conference.

"Who would it be? It would be Dublin, it would be completely unacceptable."

Conspiracy Theories

Many conspiracy theories have been promoted, particularly in Belfast, where the position of the DUP is more clearly understood.

Some commentators have written pieces that say that it is not feasible that Downing Street has misinterpreted it and that there is a negotiation ploy in play here.

Reality seems to be much simpler.

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RTÉ

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Donald Tusk said that the UK offer on Brexit should be acceptable to the Republic of Ireland before negotiations can continue

Given the exhaustion of time and Donald Tusk reinforcing that the Irish government had the right to veto the talks to move to phase two, the negotiators achieved the best wording they could find.

But there is a simple problem with that: what the DUP, London and Dublin want are mutually exclusive.

The Irish government does not require trade disputes between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

The DUP insists that there can be no trade differences between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.

And the British negotiating team does not want the whole The United Kingdom will be linked to EU trade rules.

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Press eye

Caption

Nigel Dodds is the deputy leader of the DUP

At first some seemed to think that the question of the Irish border could easily be answered because nobody wanted a "hard border".

The practical challenges meant that it was never the case and a failure to understand that at an early stage he left Theresa May in the middle of two Brexit negotiations, one with the EU and the other with the DUP.


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