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Border June 21, 2019

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Reading this from Cliff Taylor in the IT is a chastening experience. Even for those of us convinced that Brexit is a poor idea unbelievably badly worked through and potentially catastrophic for this island, his outline of the risks to the Border are disturbing in the extreme.

There is simply no way around the border dilemma. If Northern Ireland leaves the EU trading bloc, then goods and animals need to be checked entering the Republic – as part of the EU single market.

And Taylor points out the illogicality of one recent contribution…

Speaking in Dublin this week, the DUP’s Jeffrey Donaldson called on the Dublin Government to enter talks with the DUP to find a way forward.

To which he notes:

But no way exists which combines the kind of Brexit which the DUP has supported with the absence of a trade Border on the island. A time-limit on the backstop would only be a fig-leaf covering over the real issues and would inevitably sets up risks and uncertainty for the future. Now the EU insists there will be no renegotiation of the withdrawal agreement and so the collision course is set, when the new UK prime minister heads to Brussels and starts banging the table about the backstop.


It is interesting to compare and contrast that analysis with this from Slugger – which takes a remarkably rosy view of Donaldson’s supposed contribution. But then Taylor is dealing with the practicalities of the matter, not Donaldson’s self-serving rhetoric. And those practicalities are simply not going to be wished away. Indeed I’d argue that one persistent problem in all this is an inability to grasp (on the part of the British, but not restricted to them, Eoghan Harris at the last weekend was another falling prey to this) that there is quite literally no solution within the context of a hard or no-deal Brexit for the problems and challenges unique to the island. No negotiation, no fudge, no rhetoric is going to change that basic reality. And it is uniquely dishonest of those like Donaldson to argue otherwise.

As Taylor notes…

The latest report to set out the consequences of a no-deal for the Irish Border was published by the North’s Department of Economic Development and written by Michael Lux, who headed the European Commission’s directorate general for tax and customs for 25 years and Eric Pickett, a German lawyer specialising in customs, trade and WTO law. The department itself said its conclusions are a “sobering reflection” on the limited options available in relation to border trade in the event of a no-deal Brexit.


What is at issue here are the kind of controls which were in place at the Irish Border before the EU single market in 1993, when customs posts controlled the movement of goods. The report says that things could be done to reduce border checks and limit, to an extent, the cost to business. But there is simply no way to avoid physical checks to ensure customs rules are being met, food is safe and animals are not carrying any risk of disease.

And as Taylor says, the so-called WTO option, indeed all other options, do not work. They cannot work.

Which hasn’t stopped the DUP and most Tories (bar May, oddly enough) from pretending that they can:

These risks rise as UK rules diverge from EU ones, or products enter the UK from outside the EU and are being shipped on through the Irish Border. But full alignment of rules North and South – the essence of the backstop – is rejected by the DUP and, despite signing up to it, by the Conservatives. And the DUP also rejects checks on goods entering the North. And so we end up going around in the same circle we have been in for the last few years.


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