52 thoughts on “A Mere Spectator

  1. Brother Barnabas

    let’s first note that james forsyth, the author of the piece, is a columnist with the sun

    carry on now

      1. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

        Where’s the contempt? Where did he say not to bother with it?
        You’re assuming a lot. Probably correctly to be fair, but, nonetheless… Calm down, dear.

      1. realPolithicks

        pollie will be along presently to let you know that paddy was something something something..blighty blah blah blah…etc etc…what ho chaps!

  2. Cú Chulainn

    Britain lost control when they packed the Lusitania with explosives.. it’s just taking them a long time to realise..

    1. McVitty

      I guess you are saying they lost control during WW1 when they made a deal (with the American bankers) to get America off the fence, what ever it takes – some say the Wall St bankers wanted America in the war because they themselves had lent to much to Britain. Same result, a ship going down under mysterious circumstances, America entering the war and saving Britain, which ultimately lead to the Balfour letters. Most people are unfamiliar, amazingly.

      This is when the road forked away from sovereignty of the citizen to the elitist power dynamics that undermine us all – the structures that gave us the order of things we see today that dis-empower and divide. Ironically, now elites are using a threat of extortionate fee if the leave the EU. The devil is consistent.

      One thing is for certain, the people have asked for their sovereignty back in a referendum with unprecedented turnout – and I fail to see it as a bad thing.

      1. Cú Chulainn

        McVitty, that’s pretty much it. In allowing the US into the war, the British, rather than admitting they couldn’t beat Germany, gave them the keys to become the new world leaders. The difference now is that the only chance Britain has to remain relevant is in Europe. But, once more stupid pride about Germany and they make the wrong decision for the wrong reason. There are no great trade deals and the power elite are going to rape and pillage the UK starting with the NHS.

  3. Brother Barnabas

    the EU took control of brexit or the EU had no option other than to accept control of brexit when it became starkly apparent that britain hadn’t a clue what was happening, when it was happening or how it was supposed to happen

    1. DeKloot

      Indeed. Further, the only consistency regarding Brexit is the EU’s position which has remained broadly unchanged from the outset. The Tories continue to eat themselves alive and hurtle towards the cliff.

      All the posturing is coming to an end though. The best thing for May is for a few years of a breather. But with an election looming towards the end of that breather, the last thing the mad dogs of British politics will want is an election where Brexit will be campaigned for. Again.

      Hence the cannibalism.

      I have to be honest I almost want a hard no deal Brexit just to see the all $hit go down.

  4. ReproButina

    It would have been a smart move to wait until they knew what they wanted before triggering Article 50.

    Sadly there’s just no smart in Sasamach.

  5. nellyb

    Spectator is entertaining, give them a break!

    [Title]How the Irish see Brexit
    They view it through the prism of impotence and historical schadenfreude

    “This episode is emblematic of the broad Irish response to all things Brexit. A strange new groupthink has dissolved the lines between the establishment and the one-time ‘rebels’ — and the befuddled watching creatures look from one to the other and are unable to say which is which. The climate persisting in Britain since 24 June 2016 has completely taken Ireland in its grip and rendered common sense a rarity.”

    And it labors on to our amusement, have a go :-)

  6. Alan mc gee

    the British voted to leave and the British/Irish border is being used as a rod to whip the British electorates back.
    disgraceful stuff, and England will not have a bit of it.
    indeed if we obfuscate their will, how welcome will we be (our children be) in the 52% of the country that voted leave?

        1. ReproButina

          That’s what’s happening but there’s an issue with the border.

          What’s your solution to the border?

          1. ReproButina

            For a lot of those years there were custom posts and closed roads. Is your solution to go back to that? If not, what’s your solution?

          2. ReproButina

            The British claim they don’t and the EU definitely don’t but the British have yet to come up with an acceptable solution.

            What’s yours?

  7. Steph Pinker

    Why is Ollie [Cromwell] et al., on the receiving end of such vitriolic, personal and abusive comments by so many BS commenters? It’s like a Hyena pack hunt here every day when (s)he posts comments, and even in his/ her absence there are many baying for blood.

    It’s been going on for months, but it’s hypocritical of so many others who [sometimes] post under different usernames, and who are even more abusive towards him/ her, yet the group-think still seems to prevail? For a comment section which, through its particular demographic, supporters – and ideology – advocates free speech and tolerance for all – it is apparent that unless a consensus is met, there is very little tolerance of others – and that’s where the pack presence takes hold.

    It’s pretty sad to read insulting, imaginary, disrespectful personal comments between anonymous people on the internet, and it’s worse to see other anonymous people join in to scavenge for the scraps.

    1. MaryLou's ArmaLite

      Many Liberals are not very liberal when they encounter a view that differs from theirs.

      Shinnerbots are intolerant to everyone and everything not Sinn Fein.

    2. ReproButina

      Because he’s a racist troll who sets out to annoy people and goad for a response. It’s not rocket science.

      1. Steph Pinker

        Ok; however, if he is so reprehensible to the point whereby you and others have to resort to insults, why do you bother engaging with him? There are many who post on BS with more – or less – insightful views regarding a multitude of issues, yet, the same pack mentality doesn’t apply. Why is he different to any other ‘troll’ and subjected to such abuse? If you don’t agree with his POV, then make your point and move on.

        I’ve no idea whether he is a troll, or whether he really believes in what he posts and happens to have a very thick skin; but, I do take objection to seeing him/ her being insulted, belittled, castigated and ridiculed every day, especially when it’s behind his back and not present to defend himself

        There have been a few people who used to comment on BS through the years and these same people added to debate and discourse, and, in spite of their personal views on particular issues which weren’t popular in many instances, they weren’t treated to the sort of vulgar and fatuous ill-treatment as that which passes as acceptable on BS currently – this is my point.

        Play the ball, not the man.

        1. SOQ

          He is a self admitted troll who goes out of his way to goad and offend people. He also dominates every thread on Brexit to the point where some people have given up reading let alone commenting on this site.

          It is no surprise why there is such hostility towards him and imo it is rightly deserved.

        2. ReproButina

          I tend not to reply to him anymore but will occasionally respond to his more outlandish Sasamach lies. His every post contains an insult aimed at the Irish, Ireland or posters on this site. If every time you went to the pub there was a guy spreading hate and lies and insulting everyone present just for kicks what would you do? Engaging with him is pointless as he has no interest in discussion. Ignoring him doesn’t spare you his constant needling and going somewhere else iis denying yourself something you otherwise enjoy.

          1. Toe Up

            His username in and of itself is used to troll commenters. That shows his intentions even before he actually posts anything.

          2. scottser

            i actually encourage ollie’s posts as i do all of the extremist nonsense coming from right-wing brexiters as i believe it will lead ultimately to the isolation of the DUP and a 32 county republic.
            that aside, ollie is probably a first-year undergrad student from tallaght – i wouldn’t be too preturbed about upsetting the sensibilities of one of his online personas.

    3. Ollie Cromwell

      Thank you for your concerns but rest assured they are unwarranted.
      Far from being perturbed by the mob I get satisfaction from seeing it displayed in all its ugly glory.
      Online pile-ons and groupthink are invariably driven by fear and self-loathing and this one is no different.
      The fear is the fear of the unknown.The mob rattle their pitchforks when confronted with a discordant noise in their echo-chamber.It’s part of the Irish psyche of wanting to belong.To be told what to do and how to behave.First by the British.Then the Catholic Church.Followed by the EU.And now by a government of the Establishment which has no effective opposition and is virtually unchallenged by an acquiesant media.
      The self-loathing comes from the shame of knowing how this came about.The capitulation in the face of adversity.Nice,Lisbon,Bailing out the bondholders,successive scandals and abuse in the top echelons of Irish life,business,government and police.
      All of this appears to be an acceptance by the Irish that opposition is futile.
      Instead the online pursuers of confirmation bias channel their self-loathing and anger towards Brexit and the decision by a majority of British voters in the largest democratic vote in the country’s history to do precisely what the Irish haven’t had the courage to do.
      The very first comment on this article dismisses it because the author also writes for the Sun – as do many other freelance journalists and politicians.
      The fact that the article in question hasn’t been published in print or online yet means he and everyone else commenting on it hasn’t read it.
      Instead they imagine a totally anonymous person to be a fat racist,bigoted,Little Englander who is also a BS moderator who works nights, or is unemployed or as I was called yesterday a tan b@stard or whatever other ludicrous thing they come up with to make themselves feel safe and part of the group.
      It would be hilarious if it wasn’t so sad that that is the level of debate about Brexit in Ireland where on the rare occasion a dissenting voice is heard it’s pilloried and abused.
      I haven’t read the article myself yet either but perhaps this is why James Forsyth thinks the EU have been able to get away so easily with using the Irish border to weaponise Brexit.

      1. Brother Barnabas

        charger, you get pilloried and abused because you’re an obnoxious and idiotic racist – not because you present a dissenting voice

        contrast the reception you routinely receive with, for example, how newsjustin is routinely received

        he too presents a dissenting voice (and a position that many would actually find objectionable – so he’s into far deeper waters than you are; people might think brexit is stupid, but nobody could find it objectionable or offensive). unlike your comments, newsjustin’s ‘dissenting’ comments were genuinely appreciated – people, while disagreeing with him, thanked him for this thoughtful, insightful, informed contributions

        the difference is that he’s polite and respectful,

        (as for the James Forsyth and the Sun thing – I didn’t dismiss it on that basis, but it’s relevant information. I could though have dismissed it because I happen to know James Forsyth quite well – or did at one time. he’s a bumptious fool. his brother is a nice fellow, though)

        1. Ollie Cromwell

          But you still haven’t read the article you’re passing an opinion on.
          Not only a fool but a sanctimonious and arrogant fool.

  8. sparkilicious

    Of course we are being used by Europe to turn the screws on the U.K. Ireland is pretty much the only thing that can stymie Brexit and its chances of doing so increase by the day. Clearly this is going to get the knickers of John Waters, the Irexit brigade and the readership of the Spectator in a twist. But for the rest of us it’s a consensual, pleasurable bit of using… like willing subs at a BDSM party.

  9. Ollie Cromwell

    Here’s the article for anyone who wants to read it before passing judgement.

    Divide and rule: how the EU used Ireland to take control of Brexit
    Thanks to her own incompetence, Theresa May now faces an impossible choice

    James Forsyth

    The story of Britain and Ireland’s relationship has, all too often, been one of mutual incomprehension: 1066 and All That summed up the view on this side of St George’s Channel with the line that ‘Every time the English tried to solve the Irish question, the Irish changed the question.’ But Theresa May’s problem right now is that the Irish — and the European Union — won’t change the question and the only answers they’ll accept are unacceptable to Mrs May and her cabinet.

    To the astonishment of many, the Irish border has become the defining issue of Brexit. There is now a serious and growing risk that the issue will lead to the UK and the EU failing to reach a withdrawal agreement — with all the dire consequences that would entail.

    It’s easy to see why the issue didn’t receive the same attention during the referendum campaign. The Irish border is 300-odd miles long with trade of about £6 billion going across it; the Dover-Calais trade is worth 20 times that. But the problem is harder to solve because the EU is saying that, while it is prepared to wait to solve all the other trade issues, it wants the Irish situation resolved by the time Britain formally leaves the EU in March.

    The EU’s proposed solution is crude. It wants to maintain frictionless trade on the island of Ireland by, if it deems necessary, imposing checks on trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It is a rhetorical trick to say that this safeguards the Good Friday Agreement. This EU plan violates the delicate balance struck by Good Friday more than Brexit does. It would ease Northern Ireland away from the UK and push it more towards Dublin’s orbit. Under the Barnier plan, if a Northern Irish business objected to a proposed new regulation, its best bet would be to lobby a member of the Irish government. You don’t have to be from the ‘Ulster Says No’ school of politics to regard this threat to Northern Ireland’s status as unreasonable, even provocative.
    The EU has always had three conditions for a Brexit deal. Britain must agree how much it will pay in the future, even before we know what we’ll be getting in exchange for the money. Next, the EU wants to resolve the rights of three million EU citizens already living in the UK (which ought to be easy). The final condition is Ireland. This bit never quite made sense: how could Irish border arrangements be finalised, without knowing what the post-Brexit trading relationship would be?

    But the EU wanted Ireland included to show that this small member state wouldn’t be hurt by its large neighbour leaving. As one Secretary of State said to me recently, Brits don’t quite appreciate how much the EU regards itself not just as a postwar peace pact, but as a way of stopping small states being pushed around by large ones. The Greeks would be entitled to a wry smile at that.

    More importantly, the EU also realised that insisting on progress in Ireland could tie Britain’s hands in the trade negotiations to come. And if Britain had also signed away the money in the withdrawal agreement — which is the plan — Brussels would have got the Brits to throw away their best cards before the main negotiations even began. They remain tantalisingly close to this goal.

    In a post-election panic, Theresa May went along with this bizarre sequencing of the talks: agreeing money, agreeing Northern Ireland, and then discussing everything else. Worse, she accepted the argument that any additional infrastructure at the border could not be accepted for security reasons. So the obvious solution — using technology — was in effect ruled out. This is why the talks are taking so long: every time the EU stalls, the Prime Minister comes under more domestic pressure and then offers more up to the EU.

    At various points, Mrs May’s negotiators have believed they were the clever ones, that they could somehow use the Irish border issue to get the EU to agree to a special deal for the whole of the UK. After all, what could work on the Irish border could surely be applied to the English Channel too. As late as last month, the government believed that it could pressure the EU to engage with its Chequers plan, that would have seen the UK effectively remain in the single market for goods and preserve several of the benefits of customs union membership, on the basis that it was the only approach that worked for the Irish border. But despite positive sounds from the Irish, this pleading had no effect on Brussels — and was rejected, in brutal form, by the European Council President Donald Tusk in Salzburg.

    Mrs May now stands embarrassingly exposed. In December she signed up to a plan saying that if the trade talks failed, the UK would offer guarantees on Northern Ireland. It would ‘maintain full alignment with those rules of the internal market and the customs union which, now or in the future, support North-South co-operation, the all-island economy and the protection of the 1998 Agreement.’ What did this mean? At the time, No. 10 told ministers it didn’t mean very much: just making sure UK standards were no lower than European ones. Don’t worry, No. 10 insisted, it will all become clear in time.

    But in one of the many inexplicable acts of incompetence by the UK government during this process, the government didn’t seek to put its interpretation into writing. When the EU produced its own legal definition, it became clear that No. 10’s assurances had been wrong. Mrs May had signed a document agreeing that, in the event of the trade talks not delivering a solution, Northern Ireland would follow EU rules — even if Britain did not. She had unwittingly given herself a choice: soften Brexit beyond all recognition or abandon Ulster.

    May was quick to declare that jettisoning Northern Ireland would be unacceptable to any British PM. But in truth, it was particularly unacceptable to her because she is reliant on the Democratic Unionist Party for her parliamentary majority. On nearly every issue, the DUP have a price. But not the Union: that is priceless to them. If they sense that Mrs May is putting the Union at risk, there will be no repairing that breach, no matter how much special funding for Northern Ireland is on offer.

    May is now faced with an unpalatable choice: a Northern Ireland-specific backstop that would enrage the DUP, alarm the Scottish Conservatives and upset Unionist MPs, or a UK-wide backstop that would allow us to leave only with the EU’s permission. This would enrage her party and be the bad deal she has so often warned about.

    On Sunday Dominic Raab, the Brexit Secretary, went to Brussels to stress that a deal couldn’t be done on these terms. Mrs May cannot proceed with anything that leaves her choosing between stiffing the DUP or stiffing the Brexiteers. But the EU is unsympathetic: Michel Barnier worked hard to back the Brits into this corner. Why let them escape now? The widespread belief in Brussels is that the UK will, in time, swallow whatever deal is offered — however unpalatable — because Mrs May has closed off all other options. It sees how the UK has backed down before in these talks. It sees how little serious no-deal planning has been done. It calculates that there is another climbdown coming. But this is a dangerous assumption. It overestimates Mrs May’s room for manoeuvre. Tellingly, when she met the cabinet this week, no one wanted to accept what the EU was offering.

    What happens next? Well, the best option in the current circumstances is an all-UK backstop that would come with an exit mechanism. The House of Commons would almost certainly prefer this kind of deal to no deal.

    Another option is being whispered about in private by cabinet ministers: a mitigated ‘no deal’. The UK would pay the EU money in exchange for a series of mini agreements that would ensure that the planes could keep flying, that customs checks were kept as manageable as possible, and the EU and the UK could trade together in the way that advanced economies do when they don’t have a trade agreement. It would be expensive. I understand that at cabinet this week Philip Hammond explicitly argued that the UK should pay the EU almost all of the £39 billion, even if it leaves without a deal, to facilitate these kinds of arrangements. An acrimonious no deal is still an option, with Mrs May reneging on whatever she promised last December — with significant disruption. Ironically, this would hit Ireland as hard, if not harder, than the United Kingdom.

    There has been a subtle shift in recent days within the cabinet. Ministers who used to say Britain could not possibly leave without a deal are now starting to say they could not possibly give in to this pressure from Brussels. One cabinet member — a Brexit swing-voter — now believes Mrs May should start to tell voters how tough no deal will be but that the EU may well have left us with no respectable alternative. The threat of cabinet resignations has also receded (for the time being). Nothing is being agreed with the EU, so there is nothing to walk out over.

    But no deal still poses a host of problems. First, the lack of preparation — which is, amazingly, deliberate. Mr Hammond was reluctant to fund no-deal planning, worrying that if he gave his colleagues a plan for how to deal with no deal, they’d take it. Serious planning only started this summer. It would be a special kind of incompetence to end up in a no-deal scenario, while not having properly prepared for it. Public anger at EU intransigence would soon be replaced with irritation at the bungling British government.

    This is assuming that no deal is allowed to proceed. The reason that so many Remain-leaning MPs put up with John Bercow staying as Speaker — despite the culture of bullying he has presided over — is because they think he’ll help them block a no-deal Brexit.

    A second referendum is still a possibility. Voters would be asked to choose between a no-deal Brexit, or abandoning the whole idea of Brexit. With the Tory party split on what to do, handing this choice over to the electorate might become the easiest thing to do. The EU would certainly move the March deadline, if it thought the Brits would come crawling back. Or there could be a reason-able deal. But that would require both sides to realise what the other can and cannot accept. The EU cannot expect the UK to, essentially, cede a part of its territory. Nor can the UK expect to keep so many benefits of EU membership, having decided to leave.

    The issue of the Irish border has made both the UK and the EU forget these truths. But if no deal is agreed, the outcome would be precisely what both sides say they do not want: a hard border in Ireland.

    1. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

      Did you hear Simon Coveney with John Humphreys yesterday morning, Ollie?
      That was an interesting interview.

    2. scottser

      there won’t be a hard border in northern ireland. i bet denis o’brien gets the contract to build it though..

  10. ReproButina

    A couple of things jump out for me. Firstly “The EU would certainly move the March deadline, if it thought the Brits would come crawling back. ” This simply can’t happen. The March deadline is part of Article 50. As soon as the British Taoiseach triggered A50 the 2 year countdown began. Talk now is of extending the transitional period but that doesn’t stop the tick tock to Sasamach.

    And secondly: “Mrs May now stands embarrassingly exposed. In December she signed up to a plan saying that if the trade talks failed, the UK would offer guarantees on Northern Ireland. It would ‘maintain full alignment with those rules of the internal market and the customs union which, now or in the future, support North-South co-operation, the all-island economy and the protection of the 1998 Agreement.’ … Mrs May had signed a document agreeing that, in the event of the trade talks not delivering a solution, Northern Ireland would follow EU rules — even if Britain did not.”

    I’ve been repeatedly told by posters here that this backstop doesn’t exist and Britain hasn’t signed up to anything so in your face losers!

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