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Friday, 2 September 2016

David Davis on the Irish Border: Brexit and the Two Irelands

David Davis, one of Mrs May’s Three Brexiteers, has gone to Ireland and promised that Brexit will not bring a Hard Border back to Ireland. People will be able to come and go as they do now. He is in no position to make any such wild promise, for two reasons.

First, on the Brexit scenario table is one option which involves imposing tariffs on goods imported from our former friends next door and allowing free entry for goods from our new friends a long way away, enticed into co-operaton by Dr Fox Enterprises. Under that scenario, the United Kingdom would have to establish Customs posts between Northern Ireland and Ireland in order to control smuggling of former-friends' goods from the Republic.

Second, there is a  Brexit scenario which favours getting rid of European Union regulations and red tape. That could, for example, include offering farmers de-regulation as compensation for the loss of EU subsidies. In that situation, Ireland would want – indeed, would be required by its own commitment to EU standards - to  institute Health and Safety checks on UK agricultural produce being sent across the border. This is not an unusual situation: countries like the USA and Russia repeatedly slap bans on foreign food imports of one kind or another for Health and Safety reasons. It doesn’t happen often in the EU because there are common standards. But there are Brexiteers itching to lower standards in pursuit of someone’s fast buck.

There are lots of other promises out there from Mrs May’s Cabinet ministers. All of them are worthless until such time as Mrs May picks a Brexit plan which other countries will agree to, if indeed she can find any such plan.

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