Crisis? What Crisis? Well… perhaps a hard border crisis. September 30, 2016Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
Apocalyptic views are still current. For instance, former taoiseach John Bruton recently said “Brexit will devastate trade flows, and human contact, within Ireland, with incalculable consequences”. Indeed, Bruton sees the consequences for peace on the island as so serious that they should arguably be the subject of a second referendum.
These deep fears stem from an anticipated need for the EU’s external tariff to be applied on trade with the UK, and for migration controls at either the Border with the Republic or when people leave Northern Ireland for Britain.
At all levels there is a feeling that Ireland may have to take the side of the EU in the upcoming negotiations.
This is not necessarily the view of the Irish Government, nor of senior officials who have been meeting British officials to plan a strategy for Ireland that will maintain free trade and free movement. Although pressures to behave like good Europeans may well intensify, the intention of the Irish Government, like the UK government, is to keep the land Border open. Neither see a serious danger to peace on the island.
Uh-huh? Not necessarily the view of the Irish government he says? The intention of the UK government he says?
Well what of that Irish government? Indeed what of that UK government? For the actual Irish and British governments seem to have somewhat different views this very week. As reported also in the IT:
Demands by a leading British minister to quit the EU’s customs union will make it “extremely difficult” to maintain an open Border with Northern Ireland, Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan has said.
Saying he was “surprised” by international trade secretary Liam Fox’s declaration, Mr Flanagan cautioned: “I’m not sure that is widely shared among his colleagues.”
In a speech, the Conservative minister suggested that the UK would leave the customs union and negotiate its own trade deals as an independent member of the World Trade Organisation.
Now in fairness Gudgin has some good proposals about the manner in which matters should proceed.
Pessimists can, and do, argue the UK is likely to need border controls in Northern Ireland to prevent illegal immigration. If large flows of illegal immigrants do occur, the problem can be managed mainly though the UK’s systems of national insurance numbers for workers. Even if this system was circumvented, the obvious point of control is not at Northern Ireland’s porous southern Border, but at the limited number of exit points to Britain.
The DUP opposes such controls as a weakening of the ties between Northern Ireland and Britain, but border controls, if needed, will not represent any such weakening. Instead, they will be a practical solution to a specific problem, just as removing shoes and belts to board aircraft is a practical response to security threats for all modern air travellers.
But should and will are two different issues, and really, as Flanagan’s alarm suggests, the noises coming out of Britain – the divergent noises – are far from reassuring. Those who want a hard exit in the UK would near enough guarantee the imposition of a hard border on the island. Those who want a softer exit seem blissfully unaware of the fact the EU is not going to concede freedom of movement once Brexit actually is complete.
It would be a laughably pathetic situation if it wasn’t so serious in its implications for this island.