The UK approach to the border might be called a farce, but farce is supposed to be funnyby Iain McLean / December 1, 2017 / Leave a comment
“It is the responsibility of the United Kingdom to ensure that its approach to the challenges of the Irish border in the context of its withdrawal from the European Union takes into account and protects the very specific and interwoven political, economic, security, societal and agricultural context and frameworks on the island of Ireland.” (European Commission 21/09/17)
“The UK must… guarantee… that it would protect the operation of the Good Friday agreement in all its parts, [and] ensure, by means of continued regulatory alignment between the north and the south, there is no hardening of the border on the island of Ireland.” (European Parliament 29/11/17)
Ireland is the deal-breaker. People who understand the issues have been warning the UK of this for over a year. The Commission’s position is starkly: You broke it. You fix it. The Parliament, rightly, says that the only way to fix it is for the UK to agree “continued regulatory alignment.” That means that either Northern Ireland stays in the EU Customs Union (and if that entails customs inspections on the Larne ferry, so be it; that is not the EU’s problem); or the UK mimics the rules of the customs union to every last jot and tittle.
The specifics of the border pose near-intractable problems. The Irish border is 500 km long, where Ireland is only 150 km wide; there are roads that cross it four times in 10 km. Why? Because of earlier brinkmanship, compounded by bad faith in Westminster and Ulster.
In autumn 1921, negotiations to bring peace to Ireland and independence to what became the Fre…