Britain hands control, to Ireland!
Voters may be surprised to hear the feuding Tory government is close to handing the final say on the UK’s EU exit treaty to a decision, by referendum, of the people of Ireland! This may seem incredible but it’s the logical conclusion of events now unfolding in London as the Tory party continues its farcical Brexit “policy”.
Tory cabinet ministers are bitterly divided over the precise meaning of Brexit, two years after the referendum which was supposed to settle the question. It’s now clear the referendum raised many more questions than answers. The main Brexit negotiations are between Tory government factions in London, trying, and thus far failing, to hammer out an agreed position.
The latest round of Tory Brexit conflict concerns the Irish border, which has defied all attempts at resolution in London. There is an irreconcilable conflict between the wish to sever links with the EU on one hand and, on the other hand, Britain’s commitments arising from the Good Friday Agreement and subsequent accords, including the backstop provision agreed in principle with the EU27 in December 2017, to maintain an open border, free of infrastructure, after Brexit.
Various words and phrases have been proposed and disposed of, trying to resolve this problem. EU confidence in British good faith was severely damaged by David Davis’s actions in December 2017 when he publicly disavowed, as a mere “statement of intent”, the text which he had just agreed with the EU27, on Britain’s behalf. Davis withdrew this statement in a hurry, and reaffirmed the agreement, amid a furious reaction from Dublin and Brussels.
The latest argument concerns an alleged time limit on the “backstop” which guarantees continuity of existing agreements after EU exit, so as to keep the Irish border open and unhindered. David Davis, who as noted above has previous form in trying to wriggle out of agreements, now wishes the backstop to be interpreted as either time limited or without limit, as Tory party whims might dictate.
It has been argued that this fudge should satisfy the Irish government however there is absolutely no reason to support this view. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has been very clear that there can be no agreement unless the existing rights of Irish citizens to travel freely, do business and socialise across the border remain unfettered, without time limit. Furthermore, even if Varadkar were minded to agree with such an uncertain, conditional proposal he does not have the power to do so.
In the unlikely event that Varadkar & the Irish authorities were to agree to David Davis’s latest “statement of intent” then it is open to any Irish citizen to challenge that decision in the Irish courts and it is inconceivable the courts would disallow such a plea, based on the landmark judgment in the Crotty case. The Irish Supreme Court (Crotty vs Taoiseach 1987) ruled that the government has no power to enter into any agreement or provision of EU treaties that reduces or limits the rights of Irish citizens unless this decision is referred to the people by way of referendum.
British EU negotiators seem to be blissfully unaware of this provision in Irish law but the government in Dublin are very much aware of it. They know that any agreement which infringes the rights of Irish citizens must be referred to a referendum. They also know there is no chance of such a referendum succeeding.
No doubt UK voters may wonder they are to be denied a say on the final terms of any deal with the EU, while EU citizens may be asked to decide on the British exit treaty in a referendum, in Ireland! Irish law requires that any alteration in the rights of the people must be approved by the people. The UK government has powers to limit the rights of citizens through executive action, royal prerogative and parliamentary shenanigans. I can think of only one phrase adequate to describe this insane state of affairs; “those whom the Gods wish to destroy they first make mad.”