Soapbox: Democracy is a Non-negotiable

dentist treating a patient

Dr Dan Boucher was the TUV/Reform UK candidate for Belfast South and Mid Down and is a former DUP Director of Policy and Research. We approached last week’s General Election on a very different basis to that of 12 December 2019. Back then, in Northern Ireland we enjoyed the right to stand for election to make all the laws to which we were subject. But since 1 January 2021 this right has been taken from us through the application of …

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Farming in transition

Agriculture is worth around £1.7bn to the Northern Ireland economy, 4% of total economic activity, according to figures published by the Department for the Economy. This compares to farming comprising just 1% of the UK economy – so farming is worth four times more to our economy, proportionately, than to the rest of the UK. But it is a sector that is in transition and worried. Post-Brexit trade deals agreed by the UK with major agricultural economies Australia, New Zealand …

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The Alliance Party should lead the economic debate by ending its Brexit Reversal Policy…

a crowd of people holding signs and flags

The UK governments’ formal accession to the CPTPP trade area this weekend should be the catalyst for the Alliance Party to review its Brexit reversal policy. On Sunday, the Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenock signed a treaty which gives the UK access to the £12 trillion Indo Pacific trade bloc and a chance for the UK to expand beyond the confines of the European Union. Admittedly this is one of the very few trade-deal successes that we have witnessed …

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7 years after ‘that’ vote…

Metro newspaper

MY social media memories today from 7 years ago are of the results of the Brexit referendum vote, 23 June 2016. The seven-year anniversary of the ‘leave’ campaign’s victory was yesterday. The vote that David Cameron said would reveal “the future we want for our children” and “goes to the heart of the kind of country we want to be”. I remember feeling rather incredulous at the time, knowing in my gut that NI/ the north of Ireland was about …

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WATCH: QUB Post-Brexit Clinic

Picture of four Queen's University academics: Prof David Phinnemore, Dr Billy Melo Araujo, Prof Katy Hayward and Dr Lisa Whitten

The latest in regular Post-Brexit Clinics run by Queen’s University was run on Friday morning. If you missed it, here’s a chance to catch up with both the opinion polling that the academics have been using to track sentiment and reaction to Brexit and the Protocol, and to get an update on legal action around the Protocol, and dynamic regulatory alignment. Clinic regulars Professors David Phinnemore and Katy Hayward were joined by Dr Billy Melo Araujo and Dr Lisa Whitten. …

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What if the proposed protocol reforms are rejected?

white and black no smoking sign

David Allen Green has long been my British legal blogger of choice. I may not always agree with him politically, but he is often very insightful in his de-construction of the legal issues facing Britain. In a recent blogpost entitled The seven ways the matter of Brexit and the island of Ireland can be ultimately resolved, he turned his attention to the protocol, and I quote: One: the European Union and/or the Single Market ceasing to exist. This is highly …

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The real choices emerging: implement a Protocol deal without unionist consent; or accept a DUP veto on the UK resetting its relations with the EU

24 hours on, the chances of success for Rishi Sunak’s mission are no clearer.  Optimism however has the edge on the EU stage.  As its cheerleader the FT describes it solving the Protocol quandary presages an entire reset of the UK’s future relations with the EU, quoting for instance the veteran diplomat Kim Darroch: It will make a real, positive, difference in Northern Ireland. It will stand up Sumac’s claim to be a problem solver. It will get us back …

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The Act of Disunion?

The latest ruling from the Supreme Court should surprise no-one. The justices affirmed previous precedent and confirmed what was obvious: the Protocol was lawfully implemented. Since the ruling, there have been calls to ditch the Good Friday Agreement. Anti- Agreement unionists say the consent principle isn’t worth the paper it’s written on because it didn’t stop the Protocol If the Agreement should go because it’s useless, what does that say about the Act of Union? In its ruling, the Supreme …

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A Cordon Sanitaire between the EU and UK…

aerial photography of forest

Recent discussions about the Protocol in Northern Ireland have focused on the problems it poses for the DUP. But from an EU perspective it seeks to solve a far larger problem for the EU as a whole. Much of the analysis of Brexit has been in terms of it being an English nationalist project. What has been missed is the extent to which it is also a political libertarian project. Much of the driving force behind Brexiteer ideology has been …

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So on the third anniversary of Brexit, how do you think it is going?

Today is the third anniversary of the UK’s liberation from under the jackboot of the EU technocracy. Since Brexit, the uplands have never been sunnier, or maybe not… Those party poopers at the IMF decided to rain on the parade by pointing out that even Russia seems to be doing better than the UK. According to the IMF, the UK economy is expected to contract by 0.5% while the Russian economy is expected to grow by 1%. “Even Russia’s economy …

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Rather than keep slagging off the DUP over the Protocol, let’s recognise their better points

Nerves on all sides are stretched like skins on a drum waiting to see what emerges from the forthcoming Protocol negotiations.  Every cautious word is parsed and construed for signs of progress or the lack of it. Make no mistake a big push is on for a positive outcome on two fronts; to end the deadlock in the relations between the UK and EU and to come up with enough to restore the DUP to the Assembly. Never mind the …

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Sunset clauses and statutory instruments: How Brexit is allowing the UK to be redrawn…

Whilst there is a lot of attention on the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland as a source of tension and complexity in intra-UK relations, a far more consequential effect of Brexit is coming into view – one which will irrevocably change the constitution of the UK. Extraction of the UK from the EU was never going to be a straightforward case of divorce – it was to provoke a fundamental remodelling of the UK state. We are still in the early …

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The Brexit effect on UK business…

Bugger Brexit.London Street art Shoreditch.Shot on film, Kodak Portra 800, Nikon FM2n

This new video from the FT is an essential watch. It goes into detail about the disastrous effect that Brexit has had on UK business – in short, it is not good. Some of the stuff is just madness, like the tea company that went from being able to deliver their product in 2 days to taking three months due to customs. Or the company that had to close one of its UK warehouses and move it to Poland to …

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Houses of sand: Unionism has a problem with younger voters. A huge one.

Whither the union. I find myself becoming weary as I write this. Articles about the demise of the union, about unionist malaise and mistakes, are so common these days that they all sound the same. I stopped writing them at one point because I had nothing new to add. Even now, people write these pieces with a weird air of arrogance. They want you to know that they and they alone have figured out that unionism is in a difficult …

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After the funeral of the age, back to the reality of today

The greatest public obsequies in history are over. The hangover begins now. The death of the Queen allowed millions to think of the nation as a big family which could unite at such a time.  Every nation or a distinct component of it needs an identity to survive.  For a large majority, the Queen was at the heart of it. Whether the unity survives both for the nation and- come to think of it- even the royal family- are quite …

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Five ways to scrap the protocol…

The UK has refused to engage with extensive proposals from the EU to introduce an “Express Lane” for goods intended only for consumption in N. Ireland, and to radically reduce the amount of paperwork associated with phytosanitary controls. The Joint EU UK committee to oversee the workings of the protocol hasn’t even met since last February. Instead, the UK has gone for a “maximalist” position, passing legislation in the Commons to give Ministers the power to disapply large parts of an international Treaty, …

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The voice of sanity over the Protocol is drowned in Tory leadership Brexit frenzy

  Although by instinct I prefer to hunt for the substance behind political attitudes however perverse they seem, I’m reduced to calling the latest on the Protocol –   bonkers, plain and not so simple. The Tory leadership fight has tipped it into the surreal. First in a dash to complete his legacy, Johnson rushed to complete the Protocol Bill’s early Commons stages on the last full day on Thursday. Then it’s over to Lords in September and a new government. …

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UK trade performance falls to worst level on record…

Close-up of dahlias using focus stacking. Ont their final days.

Like a mirage in the desert, the Brexit sunlit uplands are further away than ever. As the FT reports: The weak performance of UK exports and a surge in imports will add to pressure on the government over the damaging economic effects of Brexit as the official figures corroborate academic studies showing a rupture in UK exports since the new border controls were imposed in 2021. The data showed(opens a new window) that the UK’s current account deficit was 8.3 …

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On one thing MPs are agreed: the EU need to show greater flexibility. So is the Protocol Bill only “displacement activity?”

The mouse didn’t roar as the House of Commons sent the Protocol Bill on its way yesterday. “Only if enacted” said an uncharacteristically strident Jeffrey Donaldson, would the DUP go back to Stormont, advancing the curious argument that the Protocol Bill would “give back to the elected representatives in Northern Ireland the power to take the decisions that they have not been able to take.”(It would give them to Westminster not Stormont). Most MPs including the Conservatives who spoke, were …

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Johnson sends an ultimatum to the DUP : return to the Assembly or we won’t proceed with the Protocol bill. Is the threat credible?

Political gaming  has intensified as the Times and the FT report that the UK government will not proceed with the Protocol Bill unless the DUP promises to return to the Assembly. As the bill will at best take a year to pass Parliament are the DUP being invited to buy a pig in a poke? Can this ultimatum over ride the DUP’s demands for “action not words?.  Is the briefing to the papers credible anyway except as short term pressure …

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