a-Fisking we shall go – Ray Bassett in the Belfast Newsletter

Good old Ray.  He keeps the IREXIT pot stirred, even when its boiled dry.   Below, a fisking of his latest brexity irexity musings in the Belfast Newsletter.

The Irish government has placed

Wrong tense. PLACES. Has implies there is some sort of time limitation

 huge importance on maintaining a “frictionless” border on the island of Ireland.

Why quotes? This construction is that of HMG.

 This is understandable, given the history of the border and also the need to preserve the stability engendered by the Good Friday Agreement.


However, Dublin has completely placed the onus on the British government to come up with a solution.

Mad, innit? Expecting those who caused a problem to solve it.

It has worked on the basis that it was the UK’s decision to leave the EU that caused the problem

This is indeed what is known as “a fact”.

 and hence has absented itself from making any suggestions.

Yeah, that’s what known as “not a fact” : https://www.google.ie/search?q=irish+government+border+brexit&source=lnms&tbm=nws&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjK86KtzP7bAhUHJ8AKHZ6MCfQQ_AUICigB&biw=1131&bih=685

  Its only contribution was to ask the British government to stay in the single market and customs union,

So it HAS made a suggestion? Make your mind up Ray.

something that Prime Minister Theresa May and her cabinet have ruled out as not reflecting the wishes of those who voted for Brexit.

Funny, theres a lot of people who apparently voted for something that wasn’t on the ballot paper.

 The Irish government even initially refused to enter direct talks with London on the matter, instead choosing to work only through the EU negotiators.

For a diplomat to misunderstand how the EU works on trade policy is rather… startling.

They have belatedly gone back on that refusal as the possibility of forcing the UK to stay in the Customs Union has receded.

So,  Ray, Ireland and the UK are in bilateral talks are they (are they f…)

However, one option which has not been seriously considered, to date, is that Ireland should itself agree to depart the EU Customs Union to preserve frictionless movement of goods and people with the UK.

God, no there are other options that haven’t been seriulsy considered. That we all do a Jim Jones; that we join NAFTA; that we petition to become a state of India. The world is full of things nobody considers seriously. I wonder why

  Since Ireland is the main beneficiary of the current arrangement, this is surprising.

Err. 15% of exports from Ireland go to the UK. 40%+ of the UK’s go to the EU. See Ray, 40>15. Small, far away.

The Irish Government could ask the EU for a special arrangement, so it could stay in the EU but outside the EU Customs Union but maintaining, as far as possible a customs union with the UK.

We could. We could also ask for a blockchain GREEN unicorn to go with the one the UK is seeking. Seeking fruitlessly for the last 2 years lets recall.

 If this was not possible as it breaches the need to “maintain the integrity of the Union’s Legal Order”,

Its not coz it does.

then membership of the European Free Trade Area (EFTA), on the lines of Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein could be considered as an option If avoiding a hard border in Ireland is so important politically, then there is an onus on the Irish Government to examine all options for its avoidance.

3 of 4 EFTA members are members of the EEA ; the fourth, Switzerland, is all but. EFTA goods moving to EU require a rules of origina check so theres a hard border with the EU Ray. Also , EFTA members are not part of the FTA for agriculture. So, there goes our agribusiness exports ex EU. Still, I suppose we can go back to driving live cattle onto the Liverpool mailboat, eh?

 This option certainly has its attractions for all the parties concerned, Ireland, the UK and the EU.

Non sequiter.

 There is no doubt, but that Ireland has benefitted economically and culturally from its membership of the EU.


 However, the attractiveness of full membership, once the UK departs, will have been reduced considerably.


The UK is still Ireland’s most important trading partner.

WRONG. Ray knows that this is a falsehood. The CSO data are crystal clear on that.

The Welsh port of Holyhead alone took 425,000 HGV vehicles on the Irish Sea route in 2016 and is now the second busiest Ferry port in the UK, second only to Dover.

So : transhipment isn’t Trade Ray . Plus, that’s double counting as this shows https://gov.wales/docs/statistics/2017/171214-sea-transport-2016-a-en.pdf ; the real figure is perhaps 200k. Still a lot but …

Other Welsh and English ports receive large volumes of Irish goods on their way to markets around the world.


While it would be possible to establish some streamlined customs arrangements with the UK, many of these goods will ultimately pass through the English Channel ports to EU countries and be subject again to custom procedures.

Ray is old enough to remember lorries with TIR on them . the TIR convention works well, still, and is designed EXACTLY to deal with this. Much more of a concern tbh is Dover being clogged up .

 It would be much better to have one set of customs to deal with, rather than two.


 In addition, as Ireland has prospered economically, it has moved away from being a net recipient of EU funds.

Yep. Ray has training in economics and is familiar with the concept of  beta-convergence, something the EU has put great store upon.

 The Irish net contribution this year will be over €800m and rising, soon to top the €1bn mark, similar per capita to the UK’s present contribution.

Great isn’t it? We have made it into the top tier of wealthy nations.

This is even before the EU proposes measures to fill the gap in the budget left by the UK’s departure. These measures are likely to adversely affect Ireland, as the EU will be seeking larger payments from the present net donors, as well as cuts to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), an area where Ireland gets most of its receipts from the EU.

Except, there probably isn’t one. https://www.ft.com/content/0ac525c2-4839-11e8-8ee8-cae73aab7ccb

 In addition, the Irish have always mistakenly looked on the EU as an economic project.

And we know this, how? If its economic only how come 81% of the population consider themselves citzens of not just Ireland but also the EU, amongst the highest in the union? https://ec.europa.eu/ireland/tags/future-europe_en .

 As the more grandiose political schemes of Europhiles like Macron, SPD in Germany, become more apparent, then Ireland will have less enthusiasm for Brussels.

Grandiose such as “an ever closer union of the peoples” ? The thing we keep voting for? That one

 In addition, it should be admitted that much of the Euro enthusiasm in Ireland has been traditionally a form of Anglophobia.

That’s just Horlicks.

With the UK no longer there, the love affair with Brussels will increasingly cool, as Ireland is forced to give up even more of its sovereignty.

So sayeth Ray.

This will be particularly true when the EU seeks to curb Ireland’s attractiveness to Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), because of its corporation tax rate of 12.5%.

Tax rates being of course a totally national competence.

The move to a common consolidated corporation tax (CCCT) would move even the most Europhile Irish politician to reconsider the country’s continued participation in the Euro project.

Confusion here Ray. The Euro has nothing to do with tax. And it’s a common consolidated company tax BASE not a tax. The CCCCB proposal does have drawbacks for Ireland but its not as though the sole and single basis of our success is on tax is it? I mean, that’s presumably what you would have said in your diplomatic job, no? Anyhow, theres a long debate ahead of any CCCCB directive and Ireland wont be alone in its concerns.

  If Ireland was outside the EU, then the ability of Brussels to dictate its tax rates would have been eliminated.

Sigh. Tax rates and policies are not controlled by or dictated from Brussels. You KNOW this Ray

 The EFTA type arrangement would, of course, maintain full and free access to the Single Market.

Err. None of the existing members have “full and free”. Do some study.

An EFTA type arrangement would greatly suit Ireland in the fishing area. Ireland is allocated an even smaller % of the total fish caught in its own rich fishing grounds, than the UK is in its waters. Once the UK regains control of its maritime resources, other EU countries will be looking at enhanced quotas off Ireland as compensation. In an EFTA type arrangement, Ireland could, like Norway, greatly revive its fishing communities and, in conjunction with the UK, end the huge over fishing which is going on at present around our islands. For Ireland, this is important because 90% of the country’s exclusive economic zone is actually maritime, by far the highest in the EU.

I propose Lucey’s Piscine Law of Brexit – once they start talking about Fish, they have lost. Here Ray, some fishy facts : https://brianmlucey.wordpress.com/2018/02/05/fishy-figures-on-ireland-and-the-eu/

 For Ireland to opt for an EFTA style deal with the EU, would relieve the UK of the need to solve the thorny issue of the Irish border.

That’s all right then. We wouldn’t want the brits to be inconvenienced would we?

 It would also maintain the present mutually beneficial arrangements between the two islands.

Like the UK staying in the CU would.

The downside for Ireland would be its exclusion from the decision-making process in Brussels.

And everything else in the EU.

 However, with a voting share of between 1-2% in the Council of Ministers, it is arguable whether Ireland, at present, has much of a say in EU law making.

Apart from the giant bits where it has a veto.

 In addition, there are attractions to the EU for agreeing Ireland’s exit to an EFTA linkage. The usefulness of Ireland in the negotiations has now passed, with the UK agreeing to a generous financial settlement.

Err. Yeah. Whatevs

 To countries on the European mainland, Germany, France, Netherlands etc., it is doubtful whether the huge difficulties in finding a solution to the Irish border is worth the candle.

Probably not. But then, that’s what families do.

 As the EU showed in its notorious Bailout for Ireland, it was more than willing to dispense with Ireland’s national interests when faced with wider EU considerations.

The bastards, giving us money and liquidity when nobody else would. How very dare they!

Given the small size of the Irish economy, relative to the whole EU, it is extremely unlikely that the issue of the Irish border will be allowed scupper the wider deal.

Not what anyone is saying so far Ray.

Ireland is situated in the middle of anglophone North Atlantic countries, with the UK to the east and Canada to the west.

And Spain and France and Portugal to the south. And Iceland to the north.

 It will be separated from the rest of the EU, not only by water but also by the UK.

U huh. Inter cert geography took I see

Geographically, historically and linguistically it will be an oddity in the EU.

Why historically? Links between the continent and Ireland go back millennia. Literally. God’s sake Ray. Get a grip.

 If a free trade area is established by the USA, Canada and the UK, it would be a much more natural fit for Ireland, than to be left as a small English-speaking State on the periphery of a centralising EU Superstate

This, while Trumpolini is trashing NAFTA. You REALLY think anyone will get into bed with the USA? Really?

. Better to take matters into our own hands and seek EFTA membership, for a period, to assess the country’s future options, post Brexit.
for a period. How long Ray?
Read more at: https://www.newsletter.co.uk/news/opinion/ireland-should-quit-customs-union-to-avoid-a-hard-border-1-8551603

Nah, don’t

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