2020 Sep 12 - Brexit Update

I had a bit of computer problem last week but I’m not the government so it cost less than £10m to fix and unlike some politicians I didn’t later get a visit from the police to ask about the hard drive’s contents. But at least this week we finally have something to talk about this week other than Corona. Yes, it’s a return to Brexit which as any BBC panel show contestant would tell you, “sounds a bit like a breakfast cereal” and which most viewers would interpret as a sign that they were watching a repeat on Dave. The thing with repeats on that channel is that QI stops being “quite interesting” once you’ve heard Stephen talk about it for the 3rd or 4th time.

But something we have heard 3 or 4 times is that Boris is going to get Brexit done and so this week saw eyebrows raised and pro-EU keyboards smashed as the government took the inevitable step of reneging on past promises regarding Ireland which is hardly a surprising turn of events given the past 5 centuries. In this case it relates to a previous promise made to keep unified laws in northern and southern Ireland. Doing so would in effect make Northern Ireland a defacto EU state given that the Republic of Ireland’s laws regarding trade and customs are largely dictated to by Brussels. London would lose control of goings on in Northern Ireland in much the same way that John Delorean did when the FBI knocked on his door. Thus the only two options are [a] splitting Northern Ireland from British control, or [b] agreeing that the two places will in future be subject to different rules, goodness knows what will happen when someone realises that Guinness is owned and controlled by Diageo which has a stock market listing in London, not Brussels or Frankfort.

The expression being brandished by the BBC is “breaking international law” is also curious in two main respects

1. It happens all the time, notoriously by EU countries yet most notably by Tony Blair who invaded Iraq not long after he agreed the very Northern Ireland treaty in question this week. From hero to zero in less time than it takes him to get a spray tan
2. The concept of international law implies that there’s an international court or jurisdiction to which the UK needs to answer. Where is it? Strasbourg? The truth is that “international law” is a synonym here for “EU law” and that kind of gets to the crux of it. If an EU court passes judgement then whether it the UK complies is up for grabs, especially with a trade agreement on the table and EU’s member states keen sell cars and wine to Britain. The Northern Ireland troubles were a terrible time, but 2 decades on there is no demand for an renewed armed uprising, not least over Brexit. Ironically, in an era of violent looting and “peaceful protests” Belfast is one of the few places in the Western world without racial or sectarian violence. 2020 is indeed a strange place, perhaps I should put £50 on West Ham to win the Premiership.
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