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“An Irexit would have to be of the red white and blue variety” February 21, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Kevin O’Rourke, Chichele Professor of Economic History at the University of Oxford lays it on the line in the IT this week.

He argues that there is…

No wiggle room here, as there is for example in some of the provisions regarding monetary union, and for good reason: the customs union has been the uncontested heart of the European project since the 1950s. As long as the North is outside the EU and its customs union and the Republic is inside, there will have to be Border controls between North and South to rule out trade diversion.

And while:

We all hope that these will be as unobtrusive as possible – if you like, that they will not be “hard”. Technology can surely help. Perhaps there can be customs posts for lorries away from the Border, with cars passing freely. But customs controls of some sort there will have to be.

I suppose that would be a solution of some sort – cars speed across the border in either direction, but it would still invite all the problems that we know of. And how to police it? The logistical and political implications for both sides of the border are enormous. It would presumably require only specified crossing points for trucks. How does that work? I often cross the border into Donegal and back at Clady. Are roads to be narrowed, shut? How does that work?

Which he acknowledges:

The return of the Border, however soft, is appalling and dangerous. I understand people wish Britain had not placed us in this position, but it has (Britain, mark you, not the EU). And closing our eyes, sticking our fingers in our ears, and hoping that a fairy godmother will magic our problems away will not help.

He continues:

It is logically coherent, if lunatic, to argue that Ireland should quit the EU and join the UK customs union. (Leaving the EU would on its own obviously not suffice to avoid a North-South border: our exit from the EU would have to be of the red, white, and blue variety.)

And that is something that should be spelled out in full. There’s no position of independent sovereignty in this for the ROI should we cast adrift from the EU. Alan Dukes says almost precisely the same thing in the SBP this weekend. For all that McGurk et al bang on about sovereignty what they really mean, and McGurk to his credit hasn’t shied away eventually (though it took him a while to get there) from accepting that his argument means realigning with what he calls the mothership ie. the UK. As a Republican and a leftist that’s a position I find unacceptable in the extreme – that the journey of this island towards sovereignty is ended by an effective return to economic dominance of the UK. It’s an interesting question as to why McGurk, in particular, finds that acceptable. But O’Rourke doesn’t sugar the pill:

It is also logically coherent to argue that Northern Ireland should remain within the EU, and I wish it would. That seems like something worth arguing for. But it is logically incoherent to argue that if we remain in the EU and its customs union, and the North leaves both, there can be some special deal that will avoid the need for a customs frontier on the island.

Perhaps O’Rourke is thinking of the Arnold’s and McGurk’s of this world when he writes the following:

Those who say Ireland should leave the EU know they are in a small minority. Many will not come out and argue for their position particularly strongly for fear of being laughed out of court. The evidence that our prosperity is based on EU membership is overwhelming. Still, expect them, in the months and years ahead, to claim that the return of a customs frontier somehow shows that “the EU” has let Ireland down.

They’re already doing it. McGurk continually, week after week, argue that the EU is the one at fault in all this as if the UK had been forced towards the exit rather than pulling itself out by its own efforts. But O’Rourke is spot on to point out that:

The Brexit campaign shows that such dishonesty can pay. Which is why it is so important that everyone understand that if the North leaves the EU and its customs union, and we remain inside it, there is nothing that the EU or anyone else can do to prevent the return of such a frontier.


1. An Sionnach Fionn - February 21, 2017

One single customs post, one single customs officer on the border would be the casus belli the “Dissidents” have been searching for over the last 19 years. Even a frontier with an array of so-called “technological customs” would be subject to attack.

Cameras are repeatedly attacked. So police are sent in to guard the cameras. And then soldiers sent in to guard the police.

Whatever way one games it, the outcomes are the same. And sure as day follows night, somewhere sometime some itchy-fingered policeman or soldier stoke local community tensions by shooting down not just a UK citizen but technically an Irish and EU one too.

And then we’re off to the races.

Personally, I’m entirely pessimistic. The Daily Telegraph’s Simon Heffer and similar Britnat ilk are fuelling the Brexit show and one gets the impression they’d almost welcome a return to 1980s’ Thatcherite Britain. Bombs included.

British nostalgia taken to the nth degree.


GW - February 21, 2017

Exactly. And the security biz economic and deep state interests in Little Britain will love being at the races again.

It’s likely that Little Britain under the Tories will need to pick a fight with someone, to distract from the disappointment over Brexit. It may be Norway over fishing, or it may be over the border.

Liked by 2 people

EWI - February 21, 2017

They’re already at it:

The Department of Foreign Affairs has said efforts are continuing to resolve the dispute between Ireland and Britain over ownership of Lough Foyle.

It follows a claim by Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire that the whole of the lough is owned by the UK.



2. GW - February 21, 2017

Good stuff. The ‘return to the national’ is turning out to be a racist and anti-immigrant dead end.

For those interested in EU-wide worker’s campaigns there’s Europe needs a payrise.

It’s time for OUR recovery.


3. makedoanmend - February 21, 2017

I’m taking a livestock based degree at the moment in a UK jurisdication. I learned yesterday that England is systemically dismantling its internal oversight of animal diagnostic reporting stations (especially post mortem where long terms trends in disease are tracked), having reduced the number of centres from 14 down to 6 by 2017. The aim in England is to privatise a public necessity for short term gain, with the inevitable avoidance by farmers, who faced with mounting overhead costs to fund privatisation, decide to reduce these costs by refusing to bring animals in for post mortems and reporting health data. Already many stations just refuse to process reports and carcasses as they don’t have the staff. (Also, these cuts affect the country’s ability to respond to epidemics!)

Scotland, whose own budget is a % of the UK, has seen massive cuts but the SNP has found money to largely maintain their stations in working order – food exports (especially meat and fish) are vital to the economy. However, once the English privatise, the budget goes to zero and the Scottish government receives a % of zero.

The EU must know this and they must know the ramifications. This will be a factor during negotiations.

Ireland better had be on its game during these negotiations. They are going to get very technical on so many levels.

Hoopla about UK nationalism and extreme capitalistic ideology are already baked into the cake and the ramification for the future are bleak indeed.

The real devil will be in such details as outlined above.

These negotiations are for keeps. They will affect our futures in unknown ways.

Liked by 2 people

GW - February 21, 2017

Thanks for that – just one example of a bonfire of environmental and public health measures that are already taking place.

You would hope that the Irish civil servants are making the right connections with the their EU equivalents who will be negotiating.

I have to wonder when English farmers are going to wake up to the consequences of Brexit for them.


4. CL - February 21, 2017

“Theresa May’s hope that the border in Ireland could be “seamless and frictionless” post Brexit was a political possibility, the Brexit select committee was told this morning.
Experts told MPs on the committee that a unique arrangement for a unique problem would be difficult but not impossible.”


shea - February 22, 2017


the post above from makedoanmend is interesting.

Does the state have the structures to spot stuff or gather intelligence like that. Not james bond stuff but look outs. tons of things with big consequences in all this. Alot of comment on brexit is lobbying for this not to happen or that not to happen, but there needs to be talk about what to do if x y or z does happen.


EWI - February 22, 2017

Of particular concern is the possibility that the UK might deliberately try to squeeze us out of the EU (with or without Trump assistance).


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