1. Exquisite Tweets from @PickardJE, @kevinhorourke

    PreoccupationsCollected by Preoccupations

    senior UK gov figure on the consequences for Ireland of a no-deal Brexit: “They would be hit the hardest, they would be fucked, less food security, smaller country, small economy, less ability to manoeuvre, if you think our house prices will fall 30% theirs will go down 50-60%”

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    PickardJE

    Jim Pickard

  2. Presumably the intention here is not to threaten punishment (so Irish commentators should calm down), but to express what I assume is a common enough assumption in some quarters, namely that in the end Ireland will blink.

    Jim Pickard @
    senior UK gov figure on the consequences for Ireland of a no-deal Brexit: “They would be hit the hardest, they would be fucked, less food security, smaller country, small economy, less ability to manoeuvre, if you think our house prices will fall 30% theirs will go down 50-60%”

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    kevinhorourke

    Kevin Hjortshøj O'Rourke

    I think that assumption is mistaken, and the politician might reflect on what the consequences for his party are likely to be if they take the country over the edge because they believe this to be so.

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    kevinhorourke

    Kevin Hjortshøj O'Rourke

    It is notable that the politician in question focusses on the damage that would be sustained to the Irish economy in the event of a no deal Brexit. There is no doubt that there would be serious damage.

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    kevinhorourke

    Kevin Hjortshøj O'Rourke

    Although smaller countries are more flexible than larger ones, and countries that are more united find it easier to adjust to new circumstances than countries that are bitterly divided.

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    kevinhorourke

    Kevin Hjortshøj O'Rourke

    But pointing out that he is probably too pessimistic (or should that be optimistic) about the damage a no deal Brexit would do to the Irish economy is to miss the main point.

    To the Irish, the economy is not the major issue here.

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    kevinhorourke

    Kevin Hjortshøj O'Rourke

    There are two choices. 1. Drop the backstop and accept that the outcome will be a Canada style FTA with a border in Ireland. Not a great economic outcome, but certainly not as bad as no deal. BUT, there would be a border.

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    kevinhorourke

    Kevin Hjortshøj O'Rourke

    2. Maintain the backstop demand. If it works, there won't be a border. And there may even be, as a bonus, a good trade deal. If it doesn't work, there is a border, but without the backstop you had one anyway, and a no deal border may prove temporary.

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    kevinhorourke

    Kevin Hjortshøj O'Rourke

    So: the upside of the backstop demand is that it may succeed in preventing a border. This is preferable to the certainty of a border otherwise. The downside of the strategy is that it may lead to the economic damage associated with no deal.

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    kevinhorourke

    Kevin Hjortshøj O'Rourke

    In the end it comes down to what people think is most important. There are some reasonable people in Ireland who think that a border should be accepted, to minimise the economic risk to the country. But the vast majority have decided that the border issue is the top priority.

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    kevinhorourke

    Kevin Hjortshøj O'Rourke

    In other words, their preferences are essentially lexicographic. By all means let's have a good economic deal -- so long as a border is not reimposed on the island.

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    kevinhorourke

    Kevin Hjortshøj O'Rourke

    The politician might do well to remember that other countries' decisions are ultimately determined by other countries' interests, which depend on what they think is important. And that de gustibus non est disputandum.

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    kevinhorourke

    Kevin Hjortshøj O'Rourke

    As far as the Irish are concerned, and as far as the Europeans are concerned, this isn't about economics. It's about political stability and peace. You may deplore that, but sometimes you have to deal with the world as it is, and this is one of those times.

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    kevinhorourke

    Kevin Hjortshøj O'Rourke