Peter Foster @pmdfoster Europe Editor of the Daily Telegraph. Formerly based in Washington DC, Beijing and New Delhi. Opinions my own. Jul. 26, 2019 2 min read

NEW: Incoming Johnson administration being warned that 'no deal' means passing legislation to bring 'direct rule' back to Northern Ireland.

This will be politically utterly toxic - and put UK and Irish govt on collision path 1/thread 

This is a hugely under-appreciated issue for any no deal, since it would effectively mean a UK government, propped up by @duponline, legislating to effectively suspend the Good Frirday Agreement. /2

It would also put rocket-boosters under Nationalist/Sinn Fein demands of a border poll /3

Brexiteers are understandably shying from the idea, but as @Jacob_Rees_Mogg tells my colleague @CamillaTominey he is NOT ruling it out. /4

Clearly such 'direct rule' would - as @simoncoveney told me in an interview last May, be "unbalanced" and hugely problematic for the Irish government /5 

Why is it necessary to impose 'direct rule' - something which @michaelgove (now in charge of 'no deal' planning' admitted in March was a "real possibility".... /6 

It is because under the devolution settlement - per Buick judgment - the Northern Ireland Civil Service has incredibly limited powers. Here is @DLidington explaining to #Brexit select cmme earlier this month - worth reading in full /7

It is true that legislation for talks to re-form the power-sharing executive [the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Act 2019] creates some powers for the Secretary of State, but am told they are “very modest” /8

And 'modest' is NOT going to cut it in a 'no deal' scenario where Northern Ireland is facing massive upheaval of the kind outlined in the recent NICS paper warning 40,000 jobs at risk. 

So as @jl_owen explains to me, the risk of NOT passing direct rule is even more alarming than passing it. Northern Ireland would be completely rudderless "like the treasury with no chancellor or Government" going on a public spending spree. /10

There is lots of 'no deal' legislation that the government can avoid passing, but can they really go 'over the cliff' with no legal basis to manage the worst-hit, most politically vulnerable and febrile region of the UK? /11

That's a biiiiig call.

As one senior Tory says to me: "it poses the question of how much Boris Johnson cares at all about Northern Ireland". /12

There's lots of glib talk about no deal, but this is a serious nettle that is going to need to be grasped one way or the other.

Work is ongoing to stand up Stormont government, but given what is ahead, a lot to expect Sinn Fein to do deal now. /13

Just one of the reasons why I'm sceptical that, when really faced with the reality, @BorisJohnson will do a 'no deal'.

Must it starts with legislation to effectively suspend the Good Friday Agreement? /14 ENDS

You can follow @pmdfoster.


Tip: mention @threader_app on a Twitter thread with the keyword “compile” to get a link to it.

Enjoy Threader? Sign up.

Threader is an independent project created by only two developers. The site gets 500,000+ visits a month and our iOS Twitter client was featured as an App of the Day by Apple. Running this space is expensive and time consuming. If you find Threader useful, please consider supporting us to make it a sustainable project.