Christine Jardine – Windsor Framework a hopeful sign for future relations with EU

In the Scotsman this week, Christine Jardine pointed out the irony of Rishi Sunak’s pronouncement on Northern Ireland’s special and unique position:

The picture became even more ridiculous when this arch-Brexiteer enthusiastically proclaimed the benefits Northern Ireland could derive from being in both the EU single market and the UK. Is that not what we all used to have?

Are what Rishi Sunak described with a smile as the “exciting prospects” for Northern Ireland not what we all used to take for granted? And yet even as the Tories basked in this self-proclaimed Brexit victory, there was just the slightest hint, a tiny glimmer of hope that our future relationship with the European Union might be salvageable.

It’s good to hear a Lib Dem actually talking about the problems with Brexit:

The reality remains that the Conservatives erected immense barriers to trade between the UK and the EU. Farmers, fishermen and small businesses across Britain remain tied up in red tape and the Conservative government are, as yet, doing nothing to help them. But in recognising the importance of creating a special agreement for Northern Ireland, they may, perhaps, have taken an important step towards reconciliation.

But the SNP saw it as an excuse to get something for Scotland:

When the overwhelming response on all sides was relief that there might be a way forward acceptable to the people of Northern Ireland while preserving the Good Friday Agreement, the SNP was determined to sing a different tune. They could not resist the temptation to try to leverage the plight of Northern Ireland for their own selfish ends when the Prime Minister was asked: “If there can be a very special status for the province of Northern Ireland, why can there not be a very special status for the nation of Scotland?”

The question seemed not only to miss the point but to be either blind to, or deliberately ignoring, the century of pain and struggle that Northern Ireland has endured to reach this point. Or the practical problems created by the fact that Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with a country of the European Union.

Surely, this once, they could have made an effort to move beyond their narrow, myopic obsession to recognise the bigger picture and acknowledge there is something more important than separatism.

Christine looks at how best to build for the future:

Similarly, we must work to ensure that this important progress for Northern Ireland also becomes a significant first step towards building a fresh bridge between the United Kingdom and the EU, consolidating the relationship which has taken on a new importance since the illegal invasion of Ukraine.

You can read her whole article here.

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  • Mel Borthwaite 9th Mar '23 - 12:51pm

    I understand that Christine Jardine is 100% against Scottish independence but the fact is that Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU while England and Wales voted to leave. It is perfectly valid for the SNP to point out that Northern Ireland has now been given a special deal and to suggest that Scotland should get a similar arrangement in recognition of the way the country voted in 2016. Of course, we know that this won’t happen, but it is valid for the SNP to point out that Scotland was taken out of the EU against the wishes of its people and to suggest that Scotland would be able to secure such an arrangement if it became an independent member of the EU.
    Rather than criticising the SNP for trying to get a better deal for Scotland, I want to hear Liberal Democrat MPs setting out how the whole UK can get back into the EU – if there is no plan for this, perhaps the people of Scotland will have no choice but to consider an independent route to rejoining the EU.

  • I think for the first time l completely agree with Mel Borthwaite. The Windsor framework changes everything. A brexiteer PM now supports closer links with EU. So now we can call at least for closer defence links and hope to rejoin some of the agencies.

  • Leekliberal 9th Mar '23 - 6:57pm

    Like Mel ‘I want to hear Liberal Democrat MPs setting out how the whole UK can get back into the EU’ Even a Lib Dem campaign to get less punishing trade terms from the EU would be a start. All I hear from our leadership is silence on Brexit and this is seriously demotivating me. This issue needs debating at our Spring Conference. Does anyone know if there is a motion to achieve this that I can sign?

  • Martin Gray 9th Mar '23 - 7:03pm

    As now & in 2016 Scotland was part of the UK …
    The UK voted to leave the EU…The chances of Scotland joining the EU is virtually nil ..
    The Windsor Framework is an excercise in rebranding…

  • Mel Borthwaite 9th Mar ’23 – 12:51pm:
    …the fact is that Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU while England and Wales voted to leave.

    Both Scotland and Northern Ireland voted for the whole of the United Kingdom to remain in the EU. They did not vote for Scotland or Northern Ireland to remain and the rest of the UK to leave as that wasn’t an option. We joined the then EEC as a United Kingdom with a single vote, not as four separate nations each with their own vote.

    Taking the Scottish Independence and EU Referendums together, over 20% more Scots voted for Scotland to remain in the UK (2,001,926) than voted for the UK to remain in the EU (1,661,191).

  • Mel Borthwaite 9th Mar ’23 – 12:51pm:
    It is perfectly valid for the SNP to point out that Northern Ireland has now been given a special deal…

    It’s just the existing Protocol with some rough edges sanded off. Nothing has changed for trade with the EU. Overall it’s a net negative, not least because all goods traders are subject to bureaucratic EU laws even though only a small percentage actually export to the EU. There are also EU imposed minimum VAT and duty rates and restrictions on state aid. Northern Ireland may not fully benefit from UK trade deals.

    …and to suggest that Scotland should get a similar arrangement…

    Scotland would fare even worse. Scottish businesses already have full tariff and quota free access to the EU ‘single market’, so in return for a small reduction in export documentation the entire Scottish trade policy for goods would be outsourced to the EU. With less than 3% of the UK population, Northern Ireland may be treated as a minor aberration in trade agreements; that’s unlikely to be the case for Scotland. Would India be willing to drop its 150% tariff on Scotch whisky if Scotland was prevented from reciprocating with tariff reductions on Indian goods? That would be a big loss to Scotland’s economy.

    ‘A Golden Trade Deal – The billion-pound opportunity for the Scotch Whisky Market’ [June 2022]:

  • Lib Dem MP speaks up for the EU, then last night a crushing local byelection victory in that MP’s constituency.
    I know there were local factors , but it didn’t do any harm!

  • Mark Frankel 10th Mar '23 - 8:22am

    If Jeff would care to look at the press announcement on the trade negotiations with India, he will see it is all ‘jam tomorrow’. The Indians have agreed to nothing. What will they exact in return for reducing the tariff on whiskey? Visas, visas and more visas. Jeff seems to think that the rest of the world has the UK’s interests at heart. They don’t. At least when UK were in the EU we could influence their trade policy to our advantage, which we did in particular with financial services. Now regulatory divergence is more likely to work in the EU’s long-term favour than in the UK’s.

  • David Chalmers 15th Mar '23 - 3:32pm

    FIRC LDEG and LIBG are hosting a debate at Spring Conference in rooms 1 & 2 at the Novotel on Saturday evening at 18.15 – the focus of which will be to look at the Windsor Framework and it’s implications for our party’s Europe policy. Come early to her a seat.

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