Fudging on Fermanagh: the UK Government is in a mess on the future of the Irish border
The importance of the Irish border to the Brexit process has once again made itself clear this week, following the realisation by the UK Government and the EU that it is central to an agreement on the single market and customs. Who would have thought that Britain’s new land border with the EU, in a region with a fragile peace after a long and violent conflict, would be important?
Shockingly, to many in Westminster and Brussels, it really is important.
The UK Government has promised that there will be no hard border in Ireland after Brexit. They have also continued to state that there will be ‘technological solutions’ to the issues of tax, trade and customs. However, any such solutions are currently about as concrete as steam in the wind.
The Brexit Committee met this week and after two and a half hours of discussion, were unable to agree on Northern Ireland. One source quoted in the media said that the feeling at the meeting was ‘’that they needed to think about it some more.’’
After all this time, and after already making an agreement with the EU on the Irish border, Her Majesty’s Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, still don’t have a clue as to what will be happening. They don’t even know what they want to happen.
Make no mistake about it, the Irish border will be relevant to every single part of Britain’s agreement with the EU. Agreements on immigration, customs, trade, legislation and freedom of movement will stand or fall when they arrive at the Irish border.
If you were listening to media commentary, such as regular appearances by cabinet ministers such as Amber Rudd on the Andre Marr Show, you may get the impression that the future of the Irish border is not in question as the transition process will be flawless. Who are they trying to fool?
The fundamental pillar of the Brexit negotiations is and will be the Irish border. It is surely about time that the UK Government realises that.