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Donnelly and FF. And meanwhile, no cause for rejoicing – the UK government Brexit White Paper… February 3, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

IEL made an interesting point in comments yesterday in relation to Fianna Fáil’s newest catch, that being ‘social democrat’ Stephen Donnelly.

He noted that given the disarray both amongst the Tories and Fine Gael in relation to Brexit FF might find a Donnelly who has been elevated to their Brexit spokesperson (thought that might be a double-edged sword) finding an open goal for FF.

Whatever else about Donnelly he is someone who will have tried to cover all the angles. I’d think IEL is correct, any embarrassment at former pronouncements on twitter about his new political home will be rapidly forgotten, if they have any currency at all amongst those who vote for him.

Moreover I can’t help but feel that it is the SDs who lost out more when he left them, rather than the other way around. He very neatly framed the exit as one where, reading not too closely between the lines, he was a man at the end of his tether with a vehicle that was not working. That that narrative may be many things other than correct is hardly the point. That, I’d suspect, is the perception from those who admired him. Whether they can continue to do so now he has moved from Independent status to Fianna Fáil is another matter again, but I’d think (and IEL notes that he has no rival in North Wicklow) that he’s in a reasonably good position politically.

Of course there are other issues. It speaks volumes about the fluidity of Irish politics on the centre left and centre right that one can move so seemingly effortlessly from one party to another (and for the record I’d more than half thought he would go for the LP should that party register an uptick in the next year or so – which shows you how rubbish my powers of political prediction actually are). Or is that more Donnelly than the parties he has been and is a member of?

Meanwhile, what of that disarray in the Tories? What of Brexit? For he surely will have his work cut out for him. From the Guardian:

The white paper restates the government’s desire to keep an open border with Ireland. But it does not give a firm commitment on this. Note the word “aim” in paragraph 4.4.
“We recognise that for the people of Northern Ireland and Ireland, the ability to move freely across the border is an essential part of daily life. When the UK leaves the EU we aim to have as seamless and frictionless a border as possible between Northern Ireland and Ireland, so that we can continue to see the trade and everyday movements we have seen up to now.”
As my colleague Lisa O’Carroll reported yesterday, some experts think this will be impossible.

Section, or is it chapter, 4 is the part of the White Paper the above is taken from. If you want to read the whole White Paper it is here – not a lot of mentions of Ireland. Two pages and a bit is what is devoted to the ‘strong and historic ties with Ireland’. And reading through it the absence of detail is conspicuous.

The same is true of Annex B dealing with UK/Ireland (pp73). A lot of aspirational stuff. No detail.

And if you’re interested in the report mentioned above written by Lisa O’Carroll detailing the Northern Ireland Affairs Select Committee deliberations this week go no further than here…

Let’s just say that the picture painted wasn’t positive:

Retired customs trade lawyer Michael Lux, who worked for the German ministry of finance, has said Theresa May can do what she likes once the UK leaves the European Union but that Ireland Taoiseach Enda Kenny will have to apply EU law with no choice but to have customs checks on the border. He said:
If Northern Ireland is no longer part of the customs union, Ireland is obliged to apply all these rules, what is done on the UK side if it’s outside the EU they can do what they want.


His two hours of evidence drew audible gasps from MPs as he told how every vehicle carrying goods worth more than €300 crossing from Ireland into Northern Ireland would have to be stopped, even if only “for a few minutes” and checked.
Every driver would have to have an “export declaration” document before travel which would have to be cross-checked by a human being at a border check.
“It is important to understand, it isn’t just about customs, it is also about VAT and excise on alcohol and cigarettes,” he said.
Dux, who has 40 years experience in customs trade law, told how dogs taken for a walk from south of the border would need documentation as would horses being ridden for pleasure on the border region. This is currently the case on the German/Swiss border, he said.


Even if the export declaration paperwork was electronic, a customs official would still be required to check the reference number for the freight and declare the “export movement closed” he said.

And behold this great shining moment for workers on this island.

Lux told how cross-border customs charges and possible tariffs could be the death-knell for cross-border dairy production.
Medium-sized businesses might need two people to do the administration, or they could use an agent which would charge typically between €50 and €80 per consignment for an export declaration number, explained Lux.

So, if Lux is even half accurate then the very best outcome is disastrous for this island. And note the ‘audible gasps from MPs’… but what did they expect? Yet again a basic aspect of Brexit, which many of us here and elsewhere pointed to, wasn’t considered, or was dismissed as unimportant, by many proponents (and it’s notable how low key the coverage of the select committee has been in the Irish media this week).

Ireland was an afterthought. The collateral damage another example of the problematic aspects of the dispensations on these islands. Utterly abysmal.


1. sonofstan - February 3, 2017

“Ireland Taoiseach Enda Kenny will have to apply EU law with no choice but to have customs checks on the border”

We should build a wall and make the Brits pay for it

Liked by 2 people

2. An Cathaoirleach - February 3, 2017

Mr Lux, if anything, is playing down the level of disruption.

VAT & Customs Duty is payable at point of entry, requiring evidence of payment to be produced at the border. While it is possible to suspend payments for good to be re-exported within a fixed period, there is a level of administration involved, which is onerous. It is hard to explain to anyone who never experienced handling imports before the Single European Act came into place, how messy it is going to be.

Customs Duties belong to the Commission, but are administered locally. Many businesses, which currently use materials from the UK will find themselves getting visits from Customs officials checking their paperwork, to confirm their declarations, separate from normal VAT audits. If there is a local (EU) option, it is easier to pay a higher nominal price than to deal with the administrative hassle. EU Audit teams will ensure that the system is run properly because they pay the Revenue to do it for them by way of returning 40% of the duties collected for the service.

There will also be the obligation to stop private individuals to prevent smuggling. The assumption that vehicles will be waived through is a myth.

As it is an EU border, Frontex will also be present. Expect to see several hundred Poles & others patrolling with Gardaí & soldiers to ensure the integrity of the EU’s outer limits.


3. GW - February 3, 2017

And furthermore…

Monbiot recently noted that, if (big if), a trade agreement between Little Britain and the US is hastily cobbled together, the content will favour US capitalist interests.

So expect food and environment standards that currently apply in within the EU to be shredded.

So the north and south of Ireland will be working on completely different regimes in these areas. I guess there’s some food produced in the north that couldn’t be imported into the south. And watertables and airflows are notorious ignorers of arbitrary borders.


ivorthorne - February 3, 2017

This will be a major issue for UK agriculture. They export lots to the EU and would hope to continue exporting there even if they lose out a little.

If the US – with its lower standards – starts competing with UK providers in the UK market, they will end up at a disadvantage. They will have a choice between producing products that can be exported to the EU or producing products that can compete with US companies in the UK market.

What this means for NI, well, it doesn’t look good.


4. bjg - February 3, 2017

Richard North had a piece during the week about the effects of Brexit on Cheltenham http://www.eureferendum.com/blogview.aspx?blogno=86363

There is no point in Enda Kenny’s having meetings with Theresa May: his [probably impossible] task is to persuade the EU to come up with a solution. bjg


GW - February 3, 2017

I don’t think GCHQ has much to worry about. The theft and export of our data will be one of the few industries Little Britain has left. Wotcher Staatsicherheit!

Yes I did briefly scan the climate change denier’s offering.


5. ivorthorne - February 3, 2017

I believe the whole White Paper was an afterthought. I’m told according to some of the graphs you get 14 weeks minimum holidays in the UK.

Sounds lovely!


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