Why didn’t the EU take a smarter & more business like approach towards the UK? You can leave if you like & still have full access to the single market, but at a certain price & fee of one billion a year? They would still get the contribution back?

Because – and this is REALLY IMPORTANT – the UK did not want access to any aspect of the EU.

The EU’s approach was to be guided by what the UK wanted. There were several options available to the UK, with varying levels of access to the EU and related price tags. The UK wanted the no-access, zero-cost option. So that is what they got.


Will a post-Brexit UK replace Northern Ireland’s EU grants?

However, I expect all the money will end up “resting” in the tax-haven bank accounts of various Tory cronies.


Less snarkily, the savings from our EU contribution are going to be needed to offset the economic damage of Brexit. Whether there will be anything left over for the regions, as well as all the other programs the EU supported, is open to question.


I am 25, from the UK and I don’t yet have a passport. Should I apply for one before we leave the EU? What differences would it make to me if I wait?

Whether you apply now or after Brexit is irrelevant. It will be a British passport in either case, and your rights will be adjusted behind the scenes. After Brexit, the colour of the cover might change, and possibly some of the wording inside.

However, if you are planning to travel by air to Northern Ireland or the Irish Republic, it is advisable to take a passport as proof of identity. This is because of changes to air travel security following the 9/11 attacks in the US, and doesn’t apply to travel by ferry. It isn’t necessary to go through passport control, as Northern Ireland is part of the UK, and Ireland is part of the UK/Ireland Common Travel Zone (which predates the EU). In theory, you could use your driving licence as proof of identity instead of a passport, but I’ve never tried that personally.


With Brexit does the EU really have more to lose than Great Britain?

I’m aware of the bias of the source. Regardless, is this claim in any way defensible?

From a negotiating perceptive, the EU has far more to lose than the UK. Great Britain is in a much better negotiating position.

Oh, la. So funny…

Britain’s membership fee is the only thing mentioned, and frankly our £8bn net contribution is neither here nor there in the EU’s budget. It’s about 6% annually: roughly the annual cost of admin, or of the Horizon 2020 research and innovation project, but that’s it. No biggie.

What the ‘nuclear option’ also entails is the UK welshing on contributions to which it has already agreed, the so-called ‘divorce settlement’. This covers things like paying towards Farage’s MEP pension, for example. But I’m sure he’ll be happy to forego his pension as the price of ‘bringin back are souvenirty !!!!!’. Not.

It will be rough adjusting to WTO rules if everything goes well. Crashing out could send our economy into a tailspin. We’re still on an austerity footing from the last recession, and we cannot afford the nuclear option. We might even drag the global economy down with us.

Imagine how popular that would make us with those markets we’re hoping to trade with as an independent nation. For that matter, even supposing the nuclear option didn’t have the disastrous consequences I’ve outlined: would you rush to sign a business deal with someone who’s just walked out of a major contract without fulfilling their end of the bargain?

I’m really hoping this is just silly posturing on the UK side, like a boxers’ face-off before the fight, and that they won’t simply flounce off in a hissy fit before they even get in the ring.

How do Northern Irish protestants feel about the increasing likelihood of a united Ireland after Brexit?

The old guard, those who lived through the Troubles and were involved at some level in sectarianism, are crapping themselves in private, and publicly trying to pretend that a united Ireland will never happen, that Mother Britain will never abandon her red-headed stepchild. Rather like the Protestants of Donegal, almost a century ago, just before they found themselves in the Irish Free State.

The younger generation – at least, those that managed to avoid the sectarian brainwashing from their elders – don’t mind one way or another. Some would actively welcome the change.

Those are the broad strokes. There are some older people who view UI with equanimity, and some younger people who think that Ulster will continue to say no. There’s also a variation in attitudes to UI with education level, and with experience of living outside NI.

OTOH, I know some very bitter, elderly, pro-Brexit, unionist-voting Protestants who would actually like to vote Sinn Fein, if only a certain SF candidate were running.

Takes all sorts, so it does.

For the people of Northern Ireland, which is worse, A) a hard border with the Republic of Ireland or B) reunification of Ireland?


My personal preference is for Brexit to be cancelled.

I am from the Republic, but now live in Northern Ireland. My brothers live 20 minutes drive away, in the Republic. I’ve lived in various parts of the UK for all my adult life, and, purely for my own personal convenience, would prefer to stay in the UK. For me to return to the Republic would require quite a learning curve as I haven’t a notion how things like healthcare work, and I’d have all the hassle of transferring my UK accounts, child benefit, National Insurance credits, pension entitlement, private pension, etc., etc. and it’s just such a draaaaaagggg. Ugh. Then there’s the annoyance of custody and access arrangements for my half-Brit kiddo…

I was born shortly before the Troubles started, and many of my earliest memories are of nervous boy-soldiers hiding in ditches along the border, chicanes and road humps at border crossing points, and long drive-arounds because so many roads were simply closed to traffic. After the peace deal, it was glorious. Northern Ireland, Republic, UK or united Ireland, it didn’t matter – we were all European. Sure, it was irritating still having to change money – sterling to euros, and Northern Irish notes to English – and flights to Northern Ireland still boarded as far from the terminal as they could get and still be part of the same airport – but none of it mattered any more. Unionists didn’t have to worry about being forced into the cloudy grey skies of a “Free State” (a lot of them have never dropped the term), and the nationalists had as many links with the Republic as they could want (and still have their lovely free NHS). No more searches at shop entrances, no more Friday traffic standstills in Belfast as bomb disposal checked out the 20-odd bomb threats called in, no more checking the news before you went out for a drink to see if the pub you were going to was a) still standing and b) reachable without braving a ‘suspicious package’.

Now, I don’t see how a border of some kind can be avoided. It might be where the old border was, or it might be an imaginary passport boundary over the Irish Sea. It might mean many roads are closed to goods vehicles, or there could be special cameras and weighing points. People in cars and buses might be subject to random stop and search. Any of these could rile up the paramilitaries on one side or another, and we’ll be back where we started.

Is it possible that Northern Ireland could stay in the EU and at the same time keep being a part of the United Kingdom?

I am looking for solution of the problem of having border dividing again island of Ireland.

Northern Ireland, as part of the UK, will be leaving the EU. There’s no way around that. The EU today has indicated that Northern Ireland would automatically get EU membership as part of a united Ireland, but that is some way off. There would need to be strong evidence that Northern Ireland voters want a united Ireland (maybe after the Tories can’t seem to find the cash to replace NI’s EU subsidies after Brexit?), followed by a referendum, followed by whatever negotiations and transitional arrangements are necessary, etc., etc. It won’t be soon, and it won’t be quick.

Brexit means that there ought to be a customs border, and a travel border for EU and RoW travellers entering Northern Ireland from the Republic. Much has been suggested regarding how this can be achieved without plunging the province into terrorism again, such as using traffic cameras for customs control and having the travel border between GB and the island of Ireland. So far, there are no good solutions and no solid plans.

Could a hard border on Northern Ireland really happen? Is it more likely that NI will receive special EU status?

A NI-Republic border ought to happen, as Northern Ireland will be outside the EU following Brexit. There’s no basis in law that I am aware of to suppose that Northern Ireland would get special EU status, although I understand that the EU is willing to consider it – thereby giving more thought to the province than Westminster has since the EU referendum was mooted.

Technically, Brexit breaks the Good Friday Agreement, under which the border is invisible. In addition, during the Brexit vote in Parliament, an amendment to Article 50 which would have protected the Good Friday Agreement during the Brexit process was comprehensively voted down – effectively, Parliament voted to break GFA.

Complicating the issue even more is the historic Common Travel Area between the UK and Ireland. This works just fine if both the UK and Ireland are in the EU, or outside the EU. No one knows how this will operate, or even if it can, after Brexit.

Then, there’s Gibraltar, where similar issues apply.

~Sigh~. Look before you leap. Actions have consequences. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Too many spanners, not enough broth.

Will the overseas tuition fee status apply to the EU students in the UK?

After Brexit, and assuming no deal, I would imagine that EU students fees would default to the amount paid by overseas students – that is, much higher.

With a reciprocation deal, EU student fees could be anywhere between the current level and the overseas level.

UK university fees are amongst the highest in Europe even for Home students, with no prospect of change anytime soon. I can’t imagine why anyone would come here to study, unless they got a fully-paid scholarship to do so. I certainly wouldn’t advise studying in the UK: fortunately, I’m Irish and can send the offspring to EU universities!