a-Fisking we shall go : David Raynes in Conservative Woman

Every now and again a piece of perfectly congealed boneheadedness comes along. Why do they come on a Friday from the brexstremists, making me fisk them when I should be heading for a beer? Anyhow, here we go, with a piece of internally inconsistent and condescending foolishness of note. So bad is it that the author knew, and allowed a sign, reproduced above, of a vandalised “welcome to NI” sign be its picture lede. 

Is the Irish border really the unsolvable Brexit problem the EU Commission would have us believe?

Well, it is not just the commission, is it.Lets recall this ever fresh comment from a conservative of note. Ready….1.2..3..

“The position of countries has been violently altered. The modes of thought of men, the whole outlook on affairs, the grouping of parties, all have encountered violent and tremendous change in the deluge of the world. But as the deluge subsides and the waters fall short we see the dreary steeples of Fermanagh and Tyrone emerging once again. The integrity of their quarrel is one of the few institutions that have been unaltered in the cataclysm which has swept the world”

W Churchill, Esq.

So, yeah, pretty much unsolvable.

It keeps coming up,

Funny that . Imagine a border coming up in debates about a country “taking control of its border”. Its almost like it’s a …a … border?

 on Any Questions, Question Time, Daily Politics and so on. It is presented, especially by the ignorant or duplicitous (those with Brexit-preventing intent?),

three different things here. And all in the mind of the beholder.

 as a deal-breaker,

It is that.

 an unsolvable barrier to Brexit.

To a hard Brexit, yep.

We are told by the EU Commission that a system for the Irish border must be agreed before the interminable talks move on.

And, indeed, that is what the tattermedallion rags of the UK governance system agreed

There is no doubt

I has a doubt. Therefore there is a doubt. You mean “I, Brexit Britain, have no doubt”

a false worry about avoiding a ‘hard border’, and probably crocodile tears about the Good Friday Agreement

This is a lovely little dig. Kudos. Remember the Arlene Forster statement on crocodiles?

. If anyone wants a ‘hard border’ or the threat of it, it is the EU, not the UK or Irish governments or peoples.

Later we find our author worked for decades in customs and excise. In all that time, which spanned of course AN ACTUAL NO SHIT HARD CUSTOMS BORDER IN IRELAND pre 1993, he never noticed the WTO and its strictures

It would be ridiculous, of course, to pretend that all this could be resolved without properly understanding the nature of the ongoing EU/UK relationship, including mutual respect for standards and non-tariff barriers to trade, and Michel Barnier must know that.

Fair enough

 This is much more than discourtesy from the Commission, it is simply not negotiation in good faith and with goodwill.

The UK is talking, openly, about tearing up the GFA. So, lets not have lessons on good faith and goodwill, or how dark is Mr Kettle shall we, Mr Pot?

Much of the talk is about lorries queued up waiting ‘to clear Customs’, as if the speakers do not know that in the 21st century Customs all over the world are moving to instant electronic clearance and (if needed) ‘Post Clearance Audit’ at traders’ premises.

So, all those trucks at the Turkish/EU border, the Norway/EU border, the US borders with its NAFTA colleagues, they are…mirages?

After 36 years in UK Customs and several years advising Customs Services internationally (some of it for the EU), it is quite plain to me that, with goodwill, a frictionless post-Brexit Irish border could be developed.

With goodwill and a lot of time, maybe. In the timeframe we are talking about? Nope.

 Goods would be cleared electronically, instantly, much as they are today, in vast quantities, from all over the world, at Heathrow.

Sigh. Here. Heathrow is a airport. Its secure. Goods come in. They get scanned, examined and xrayed for a whole pile of reasons. They DO NOT get loaded onto a truck and driven off towards Reading at speed. There is the hardest of borders at a airport. For gods sake man, try to be consistent.

The proposed system would use an enhanced ‘Trusted Trader’ or ‘Authorised Economic Operator scheme’ based on the successful model of the US/Canada border, as described in the Daily Telegraph and which David Davis has allegedly visited.

That would be the Canada US border which has a militarised hard border? That one? Where there are customs and border posts? That one?

Goodwill is the key word. It seems clear

To you, if nobody else

that the EU Commission, at least, is not operating with goodwill or in the interests of the Irish Republic

Not the name of the state but hey, torysplain on.

 or even of other member states

You know this, how?

 It is, in my view, using the Irish border as a stick to unnerve the UK

If even the remotest prospect of a return to conflict at worst or at best the souring of relations with what was your closest ally is not unnerving, well..

– maybe even to try to reverse the Brexit decision.

What was the nationality of the chap who said, to paraphrase “nations do not have friends they have interests”?

 Some politicians and public figures/commentators,

Name them.

with little real understanding of modern Customs procedures,

such as the magic soft borders at Heathrow and the US border, those procedures?

are falling for it,

Those with whom I disagree are fools

or mischievously using it for their own ends.


or maybe knaves

The best long-term interests of Ireland, in a changing world, would probably be to join the UK outside the EU, in an English-speaking mutually co-operative zone, free of the EU protectionist tendency and with the continuing free movement of people and rights to settle or work which we have had for generations in what is called the Common Travel Area.

This is crystallised stupidity. It conflates, unforgivable in a supposed customs expert, at least three things : a common travel area, a free trade area and a customs union. It is ludicrious to suggest that we would remove ourselves from a union in which we can influence to become once again a true vassal state of the UK.


That is ultimately for Ireland to decide,

Gee, thanks

 but in deciding they should recognise that with the UK gone, the benefits for Ireland of EU membership are very limited indeed,

Err. No. We trade much much more, Mr Customs Expert, with the EU than the UK. All the evidence (too much to link to here but email me) is that we made the gains we made in 1973 and much more so in 1993 from the EU

and likely to be very much less than hitherto. Ireland is certainly extraordinarily dependent on trade with the UK


 and apparently, even after the Brexit vote, becoming more so.

Nope. One month does not a swallow make. Irish exports to the UK are about 12-13% of total. This is down from 75% in 1973.


 If Ireland chooses not to join the UK outside the EU,


 or perhaps is not yet ready, we should respect that decision and work with mutual goodwill to develop the system I describe.

What system? Heathrow and Windsor-Detroit hard militarised border?

Even in the depths of the Troubles, Irish Customs and UK Customs were able to work together with mutual trust and in secrecy.

With a hard border. Customs posts. Barbed wire.

Future co-operation could be enhanced by a jointly staffed Irish/UK Customs Co-operation Unit and an additional Protocol legally obliging both parties to deal with routine control and transgressions in either direction and to deepen the already strong co-operation.

Your missing something. Ireland is in the EU. This is thus not a national competemcy. Wilful purblindness is not an excuse.

There will be transgressions, as there are now, on any border.

Brexit means “lets enrich the remnants of the provos” does it?

Different VAT and Excise duty, especially hydrocarbon oils duty and other charges against business, always make for criminal opportunism. But as history has shown Customs services the world over, none of this is unsurmountable, given goodwill.

One sentence ago you were saying it was. WT actual F?

Goodwill is the important word. Let us have some, Monsieur Barnier.



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