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Just before European Union leaders agreed their guidelines for the Brexit negotiations last week, the president of the EU council, Donald Tusk, said: It is clear that progress on people, money and Ireland must come first. It was rather startling to find Irish concerns up there on the list of fundamental priorities, with the rights of EU citizens in Britain.
And when the guidelines were agreed, it was clear that this was more than rhetoric. EU governments have essentially committed themselves to allowing Northern Ireland to rejoin the EU if Ireland is united. This is a very big dealrather startling to find Irish concerns up there on the list of fundamental priorities,
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What you got ?
Britain’s departure from the EU is (in principle) to be final; Northern Ireland’s is now contingent. Britain is getting a divorce; Northern Ireland is being offered a trial separation. For Britain, there is a one-way ticket; for Northern Ireland, there is an automatic right of return. The implicit offer is two unions for the price of one: unite Ireland and you reunite with Europe.