The border is never mentioned in the Belfast Peace Agreement . This claim is regarded by Brexiteers as an argument that trumps all else . Today brings the news that Johnson is putting the City Hall Band Back Together . Daniel Moylan is to be appointed as his Senior Brexit Adviser if, and when , he sets foot in No 10 . The news reminded me of a surprising and worrying exchange I had with Daniel last March on Twitter
Of course everything Daniel Moylan said to me has disappeared . A Digital Purge is obviously now standard operating procedure before appointment to avoid spending first few weeks in office defending everything you have said over recent years . That’s disappointing as it was an engaged and surprising exchange . Surprising because , in my view , Daniel held an entrenched position – which he defended resolutely and with a degree of wit – but one which seemed to me to be largely unsustainable .
As far as I recall the exchange was sparked off by my proclaiming that the ‘Backstop’ should have been from the outset called the Good Friday Guarantee . Calling it Backstop made it liable to be portrayed as a bureaucratic impost . Whereas it should be seen for what it was – a principled and high minded measure to preserve the benefits of the Good Friday Agreement . Furthermore Brexiteers by not regarding it as such were wilfully playing fast and loose with all the hard won benefits that peace had brought .
That brought a sharp retort from Daniel rebuking me for traducing the commitment of Brexiteers to peace .
Amongst the recurring arguments in his responses were :
1) Challenge to show where in the GFA it referred to the border and
2) In the course of our exchange a challenge to the claim I made about the status of the agreement
Sadly Daniel’s , often elegantly argued, points are now concealed from , or maybe even lost to , the world . Here is my side of a sparky -but temperately expressed – exchange which lasted over an evening and the following morning.
That is where our exchange ended . Without agreement on anything much other than HMG should not have started from where it did . However the stridency of Daniel’s view that the GFA was being elevated to an entirely unwarranted degree as a means to block Brexit surprised me . His two central points – Border never mentioned in , and challenge to status of GFA , have cropped up frequently in other exchanges with Brexiteers . Although in those cases argued considerably less coherently and often expressed with all the understanding of Nadine Dorries repeating a WhatsApp message from Steve Baker
I share my side of the exchange as casting some light on how Daniel Moylan will approach his new role