Here’s a frightening thought: you’re going to base your views on what’s going to happen with Brexit on the views of someone else. Or several someones.
Take the prospects for agreement. In the online Independent, there’s an encouraging article today headed “Theresa May to accept checks between Northern Ireland and Great Britain in major concession to avoid Brexit deal”. The report goes on to claim that “Under proposals to be brought forward by the UK government, Britain is expected to accept some checks taking place between Northern Ireland and Great Britain”. A little puzzlingly, the article goes on to cite Theresa May as saying “That I should assent for a legal separation of the United Kingdom into two customs territories is not credible.” Which looks like a classic case of Britain holding two contradictory opinions at once. But the Independent notes that Theresa May has deliberately “left the door open to regulatory checks at Irish Sea ports, which are technically different but similar to customs checks.” You say po-tay-to, I say po-tah-to.
Arlene Foster, though, says (you guessed) NO. “Our only red line is that we are not treated any different from the rest of the United Kingdom, that there are no trade barriers put up between Northern Ireland and our biggest market – which, of course, is Great Britain”.
Which sounds nice and clear-cut, except that as onenEU official pointed out, ““There are checks which take place already [between Northern Ireland and Great Britain] in relation to some agricultural products.” And would refusal of north of Ireland bank notes by half the traders in England count as an impediment to trade?
According to the Independent, this technical distinction between regulatory inspections and customs inspections could well be the key to unlock the British border in Ireland problem.
Some people doubt Theresa May’s commitment to having the north treated exactly as the rest of the UK (Nigel Dodds wrote the lyrics, Sammy Wilson the music for that one). I beg to disagree. She wants the north to be seen as an “integral part of the UK” because if she doesn’t , the DUP may pull the plug on her government. And there’s a second, less cited reason: if she allows the north to become obviously semi-detached or more from the rest of the UK, what then would be likely to happen in the case of Scotland? You guessed it; and a UK which consisted only of England and Wales would look so hideously truncated, England would almost certainly say “To hell with this. We are England. Wales: make your own way.”
But I come back to my initial point: in some respects, we’re all prisoners to what the mainstream media tell us. Except, of course, if we do some independent thinking and punch a large hole through that prison wall.
” notably left the door open to regulatory checks at Irish Sea ports, which are technically different but similar to customs checks.
“that I should assent for a legal separation of the United Kingdom into two customs territories is not credible”.
Under proposals to be brought forward by the UK government, Britain is expected to accept some checks taking place between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.