Monday, 24 June 2019

Invisible borders

Some of the fantasists in the Conservative Party have, it seems, come up with a wizard wheeze to avoid a hard border across Ireland which, according to them, could be up and running within three years if work started now.  Given that work is not starting now, and that all government projects over-run, it might be available in about five to ten years’ time, I suppose.  The problem is that it does not, in fact, avoid the need for a hard border at all, it merely avoids the need for infrastructure on the border itself, by moving the effective border to farms and factories wherever they may be found.  Like all the so-called ‘alternative arrangements’, it confuses the issue of there being a border with that border being visible at a specific geographic location, as though it is the location of the border – rather than the obstacles it raises – which is the problem.
It gets worse.  Whilst the ‘plan’ does indeed propose a means of keeping the whole of Ireland in a single regime for many purposes, it does so by taking the Republic half-way out of the EU’s regulatory regime and putting it under the UK’s regime instead.  So, in the specific and oft-quoted case that the UK agrees to accept chlorinated chicken from the US, the ‘solution’ to preventing it going across an open border into EU territory in Ireland is that Ireland asks for and is granted an exemption from the EU’s rules on chlorinated chicken, and agrees to accept the same product itself.  In essence, it seeks to mitigate a border problem between the UK and the Republic by imposing a border of some sort between the Republic and the rest of the EU, because otherwise there is nothing to prevent Ireland becoming a back-door to the EU for non-compliant products.
The blithe, casual and arrogant assumption that this will ever be acceptable to either the EU or the Republic shows the extent to which the Anglo-British not-nationalists-at-all still don’t really understand the concept that Ireland is a sovereign state and not subject to the whims of its larger neighbour.  I’m not sure that they’ll ever get it.

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