The Irish Government now ought to prioritise securing a swift UK-EU Free Trade Agreement

9 Jan

Following the expected ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement by the new Parliament in London and the European Parliament, almost immediately the issue of the longer-term trade and economic relationship will come into focus. The issues, which dogged the withdrawal discussions, will again re-emerge. This is especially true in relation to the Irish border. It is […]

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How Boris Johnson helped change Leo Varadkar’s attitude to Brexit

16 Dec

People, not policies, win elections, and last week’s general election in the UK was no different. Boris Johnson’s clear message won over the British electorate, allowing him to win a majority at Westminster. With this majority comes cause for celebration on both sides of the Irish Sea. This was evident from Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s coast-to-coast […]

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Boris Johnson has delivered a Brexit deal that eurosceptics can – and should – enthusiastically support

18 Oct

The Prime Minister has achieved the remarkable. After a mere 86 days in the job, he has achieved what Remainer pundits, critics and MPs alike have long held was undoable, unattainable, even impossible. Boris Johnson has proved them each and all wrong and truly delivered for this country, not by bringing back a deal that […]

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The Government must hold firm against the demand for future alignment of the British and EU economies

17 Oct

When news that a Brexit withdrawal deal had been reached, its fate at the hands of MPs on Saturday hung in the balance. MPs gunning to vote it down saw their numbers potentially boosted by the DUP, to whom the four pronged Northern Ireland backstop falls short on customs, VAT and consent. But now Jean-Claude […]

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The eight mistakes I saw the UK make in the Brexit negotiations

16 Oct

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, sometimes used to unfairly criticise the past, but it also allows us to learn from our mistakes. During my 14 years as a MEP, I saw a number of mistakes which led us to where we are now in the negotiations. I list the main ones here, not necessarily to […]

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Why I – a Brexit Party MEP – trust Boris Johnson to do a deal and deliver Brexit by the end of this month

15 Oct

Shortly after the 2015 General Election, I received a note from Boris Johnson which read: “I don’t know what effect all that fish has had on your brain, but you seem to be the only person who correctly forecast the outcome.” My prediction had been published in my local newspaper and had included not only […]

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Busting the Project Fear health myths about a UK-US free trade deal

15 Oct

According to a recent article in the Financial Times, ministers have been warned that the UK’s efforts to strike a US trade deal after Brexit could “severely limit” Britain’s ability to negotiate a deal with both the EU and other third countries.  The warning comes from a report written by the UK Department for Environment, […]

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Why the Irish Taoiseach has a vested interest in keeping the UK locked into EU economic structures

14 Oct

The Irish Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, has played a strong hand in the Brexit negotiations, bringing in both the Good Friday Agreement and any possible border friction, real or imagined, to try to keep the UK locked into the EU’s economic structure throughout any transition period and then in perpetuity through a future UK/EU Free Trade […]

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There is no reason to be bamboozled about dealing with the Irish border post-Brexit

8 Oct

In all the discussion about the Irish border, most of us can end up feeling pretty bamboozled by the whole thing.   However, there are some facts that are worth remembering which actually provide the keys to a future solution. Firstly, it is worth reminding ourselves of the present situation. The UK and Republic of […]

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The legal way to exit the EU by 31st October is through a transition in the EEA

8 Oct

It is just possible as of today that by 17th/18th October at the European Council meeting, using perhaps even its well-tried mechanism of stopping the clock, an agreement on a EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement under Article 50 can be achieved and the UK leaves the EU on 31st October with Conservative, DUP, some Labour and Independent […]

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How to protect both the UK border and EU Single Market in a post-Brexit world

5 Oct

Further to this piece of 19th September investigating the risk of increased smuggling across the Irish border after Brexit, we set out below a legally operable cross-agency operational plan to be established between the Customs and Enforcement Agencies of the United Kingdom, Ireland and the European Union to protect both the EU Single Market and […]

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It’s time for some statesmanship from Leo Varadkar

3 Oct

The path to a negotiated Brexit deal is now broadly dependent on the statesmanship of one man. The Prime Minister’s letter to the EU with a new Brexit offer has landed well in the UK with the support of the DUP, the ERG, Remain-supporting Tories, an important number of Labour MPs, even possibly some Liberal […]

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What is a border? Demystifying customs controls and checks in Northern Ireland

2 Oct

The UK Government has now made proposals for resolving the Irish border to the EU. They have been characterised as creating two borders for Northern Ireland, one with Ireland and one with Great Britain. In order to understand why this is not the threat that some suggest, we need to understand how borders have evolved […]

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Boris Johnson’s new Brexit offer to Jean-Claude Juncker

2 Oct

What follows is the text of the letter Boris Johnson has today sent to Jean-Claude Juncker, setting out the UK Government’s proposals for a new Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland A FAIR AND REASONABLE COMPROMISE: UK PROPOSALS FOR A NEW PROTOCOL ON IRELAND/NORTHERN IRELAND Dear Jean-Claude, There is now very little time in which to negotiate […]

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Some special Brexit arrangements for Northern Ireland are likely – but the backstop was always a questionable solution

30 Sep

Is there an alternative to the Irish backstop? Even before the Withdrawal Agreement was finalised last year this question has been central to the Brexit debate. The EU and the Irish Government have insisted on the backstop as a guarantee of maintaining an open border in Ireland. Although they have pledged to look at alternative […]

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How to ensure the island of Ireland is no ‘smugglers’ paradise’ post-Brexit

19 Sep

During a recent media interview, Fianna Fáil senator Mark Daly said that in the event of Brexit, the border between the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland would effectively promote a “smugglers charter” which would transform the Irish border to a “back door into Europe”. Other commentators have argued the risk of smuggling can […]

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Numerous checks on livestock already occur in Northern Ireland – but no additional border checks need be required post-Brexit

17 Sep

Imagine that I am a sheep farmer specialising in breeding, selling and exporting lambs in Armagh, Northern Ireland. I also buy lambs from local farms and markets, consolidating them into batches with my own lambs and arranging transport for the export to external markets. I export approximately 400 lambs every 2 days (an average of […]

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It’s time for some perspective to replace the Operation Yellowhammer hysteria

14 Sep

We are inured by now to the biased reporting of Brexit which those opposed to it perpetrate in the media. Even so, I listened with more than the usual incredulity and irritation to one BBC correspondent giving his opinion on the Operation Yellowhammer papers (a five-page out-of-date summary of the Government’s Reasonable Worst Case Planning […]

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The out-of-date Operation Yellowhammer document fails to justify the doom-mongers’ scare stories

12 Sep

We now finally all have sight of the official Yellowhammer briefing, but I’m not sure it was worth the wait. The newly-published summary – of the Government’s ‘Reasonable Worst Case Planning Assumptions’ in a no-deal Brexit scenario – certainly does not support the widespread claims that even the Government thinks ‘crashing out of the EU without […]

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How to fix the Brexit deal so a sovereign UK can agree a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement with the EU

2 Sep

The next week in Parliament is bound to be tumultuous, but I believe all MPs should remember that some of us have spent the summer fashioning the tools to enable the United Kingdom and the EU to agree a deal. In July, the Prosperity-UK Alternative Arrangements Commission – for which I chair the 20-strong panel […]

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Boris Johnson’s appointment should prompt Leo Varadkar to reset the Irish Government’s Brexit stance

26 Jul

Last weekend Northern Ireland played host to the British Open for the first time since 1948. Irishman Shane Lowry won emphatically and as the week rolled on, the congratulations continued to roll in for the Offaly man. Naturally our media-savvy Taoiseach was quick with the praise and, as so often is the case, what was […]

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Some more friendly advice from me for Boris Johnson

26 Jul

The next few weeks will see an outpouring of advice for Boris Johnson. All the commentators who’ve spent the last few weeks denouncing him as a walking disaster, womaniser and serial liar will rush to tell him to redeem himself by doing what they want. Which makes me, as someone impartially opposed to his politics, […]

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