This is one of the madder ideas floating around. But it has a close cousin – Ireland is propped up only by the EU and without its direct hosepipe of cash would collapse.
Much talk this day on a hard, wet, soft, chewy…ok not that one… border.
Tell me, harden this border will you, for me? Tell me where the border will be placed… The border is so twisty turny topsy turvey…
This is a tiny part of the border, in Louth. It cuts through motorways (zig zagging) and houses and farms and barns….
So, wheres the hard border going to be?
Here are some more fun and games.
- The UK doesn’t leave the Customs Union. By far the simplest. But the demented ideologues of Brexit see leaving the CU as the talismanic, totemic, ne plus ultra of Brexit. So that is a non starter
- A full hard militarised India-Pakistan, West Bank type border. Not going to happen.
- Ireland leaves the EU. Err no, thats a non starter.
- A united Ireland. Definitionally no UK EU land border in that case. This is a long way off so wont happen if at all before March 2019. So that is a non starter
- NI as part of the CU, but rUK not. Politically that would be a non starter for the DUP who are the tail that wags the westminster dog so that is off. Economically most NI trade is with the UK so thats that dead in the water.
- So some form of increased hardness over the existing border is going to happen.
- This can’t be done with electronic surveillance and IT alone. Leave aside the technical, legal and other challenges.
- A return to the days of spiked roads and hard customs posts would be a gift without parallel to the still active dissident republicans. So thats a problem
- Anything in between would allow for an increase in the massive smuggling that already goes on. Where now it is confined to fuel , this would expand to Every. Single. Thing. Presumably Brexit doesn’t mean “lets give more cash to ex IRA and UVF hoods who now engage in smuggling” .
- So expect a border zone of control, where there is much increased mobile customs and immigration, much more intrusive and engaged than now, increased disruption to the daily lives of those on and near the border. Thats going be popular.
Ireland has an opportunity to position itself as a leader in an emerging technology, or perhaps a reemerging one. All it takes is political vision, a willingness to face down some entrenched local vested interests and a desire to make a change. This of course means it wont happen, but we can dream!
So, with Brexit still on the table we need to think about how we in Ireland are going to reorient ourselves from the UK. The UK seems set for a harder than a softer brexit. Recall that some of the chief ideologues in the brexit camp see a race to the bottom of regulation (including health and safety) as a desirable thing. So we may find that things are either less easily imported (tariff and non tariff barriers) or impossible (deemed unsafe or unhealthy) Whether willingly or not, we are going to have to move further away from our close relationship. Some suggestions below, with plenty to annoy everyone. Note : to forestall the inevitable screams, noting issues does not, necessarily, imply suggesting them as options. Nothing, we are told, should be off the table. So, heres some ideas to spark debate.
With each day that passes and the ramifications of Brexit become evermore entwined. leaving aside the damage that is being done to the UK’s economic and political reputation, we now see the stirrings, deliberate and calculated, of a pot of debate on a putative Irexit, an Irish exit from the European union. Like it or not this debate will continue, and to ignore it is neither politic nor possible. That it is ridiculous and risible is obvious to even a casual analysis, but we have seen with Trump and Brexit that mere foolishness does not deter a polity from a course of action.