10 years on from the onset of the crisis we could take some time to take stock. The government is keen, as are many, to wipe it from memory – keep the recovery going. The recent undoubted recovery has softened memories for the most part. But if we forget the past we will sure as eggs forget the lessons of the past.
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!
Ireland, as we all know, is a predominantly agriculture country and the few bob we dont get by selling pigs and potatoes we get as handouts from the EU. Isnt that right? Hmm
So, having run on a campaign of “taking back control (of our borders)” the latest cunning plan to deal with its only actual EU border is for Brixitian to ….cede control of its border to another EU state. Yep.
This is cracked. Humpty Dumpty , sorry James Brokenshire , the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, has suggested that in order to avoid a hard border at the actual legal border between the EU and Brexitian the Common Travel Area external border would be “the” UK border. Several thoughts come to me on this
British citizens may have to apply online and pay to travel to Europe after the UK leaves the EU, under plans being drawn up by the bloc for a visa waiver programme similar to the US system.The European commission is due to unveil draft legislation for the EU travel information and authorisation system (Etias) later this year as part of a broader response to calls for greater security across the continent following recent terror attacks in France and Belgium.The scheme would cover all visitors to the passport-free 26-nation Schengen zone – of which Britain is not a member – from countries that do not need a visa to enter, EU sources confirmed.
Now.. this is interesting. I have suggested before that we should consider joining Schengen. As things stand post Brexit we will be the ONLY EU country not therein or moving towards same. The Commission document underlying this is here . A discussion is here
Schengen is a visa free zone. We are in another, the Common Travel area. In effect we have over decades adopted a visa and travel scheme that the UK accepts as equivalent to its own, given the open border with Northern Ireland. But post Brexit that will be an open border with a third country.
We may face a choice – preservation of unrestricted movement with Tyrone or with the Tyrol. Can we remain part of the UK immigration system allowing them free movement into the EU and at the same time remain part of the EU system? Can we negotiate something as complex as that with a commission whom we are , in the Apple case, daily denigrating and catcalling? What makes us special snowflakes?
Schengen will deepen. As Europe moves more right this is inevitable. Can we be outside Schengen and truly be within Europe?
Its a mess.