Solving the Irish border

The EU has long decided to use the Irish border issue as one to try to force the UK to stay  in the Customs Union, keep all EU rules and make the exit payment they want which is not a legal requirement on the UK. It is most important that the UK civil service negotiators understand this is a silly ruse, and robustly put the alternatve case. Let me remind them what it is.

The border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, part of the UK, is already a complex one. It is a currency, VAT, Excise and criminal law jurisdiction border. This means there are already so called hard border arrangements to ensure any goods moving across the border pay the right amount of VAT to the right authorities, and pay the relevant Excise duties. There are anti smuggling systems in place as there is obviously current scope to exploit differences of VAT and Excise by criminals. There are ways of handling movement of criminals across the frontier, and electronic systems for trade through TIR, registered economic operators and the rest.

If we also need to levy customs duties when we leave because the EU refuses the UK offer of tariff free trade, so be it. The same methods used for Vat and Excise can be used for the customs levies. It can be done electronically away from the border as it is today.

Before we entered the EU we had a free travel area with the Republic and all involved in the neotiations wish this to continue, so it is difficult to see new problems concerning movement of people. When the Uk legislates its new borders system for movement of people it is likely to seek to reduce migrant numbers into the UK by changing benefit rules and requiring work permits, not by imposing new controls at the frontier. We already have external border checks on illegals and on criminals seeking to cross. We will continue to welcome as many tourists, visitors and people who pay their own bills who wish to come.

I trust  the UK will give a robust defence of this approach and demonstrate that the Irish border is a put up job by the EU to push us back into conformity.





  1. oldtimer
    April 21, 2018

    It has been clear for a while that some have wanted to weaponise the border issue to frustrate Brexit, if only to turn it into Brino. The Irish PM and certain former UK PMs have been vocal about it.

    Your post sets out the matter very clearly. UK negotiators should not compromise the Brexit decision. They do not have the authority to do so.

    1. Timaction
      April 21, 2018

      The UK negotiators should have been sacked for incompetence by now and Mr Davis replaced. It has not been a negotiation but rule and policy taking from the EU by the supplicant UK. Disgraceful conduct, then hiding it in news management with a equally useless compliant msm. Mrs May now has a reputation for hiding her appalling policy decisions in the middle of the night. Thankfully we have the courage of the DUP, NOT the Tory party to protect us.
      When are the Tory’s going to take control of our borders (8 years in office) to protect the provision of health, housing, education and all public services for the tax paying English people? When is Ms Rudd sending us English people a letter to apologise for her complete incompetence in all things Home Office?
      When is Mr Hunt going to send the English people a letter apologising for his incompetence for not charging or recharging foreign Nationals for their health care or planning to increase provision to match the Governments mass migration policy?

      1. Hope
        April 21, 2018

        May made this possible by incrementL steps that you and our leavers have allowed. You all reminded her recently with a letter, despite this she stated in the mansion May House speech she would not walk away or resort to WTO. Therefore she has no cards to bargain with and let the EU know the same publicly. May has now reneged on all main points of her Lancaster speech, dropped all red lines as given away more in addition i.e. Waters and fishing stocks. She promised a line by line examination of the EU financial bill and offered £20 billion, EU rejected it so she has now agree £100 billion! Borders are not secure during the xtension as a vassal state more countries will join EU and May has agree to pay welfare benefits to EU citizens not yet born and even if they do not live in the country! May agreed in a December whether there was a d al or not that regulatory alignment would apply to all of the U.K.! Did none of you listen?

        Wind rush scandal: May lost hindered of thousands of illegal immigrants, earlier this year Rudd lost 56,000! How do you lose 56,000 people? John Reid Labour HS, 12 years go, stated the Home Office was not fit for purpose. 8 of those years have passed under Tory govt and hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants lost by May, record numbers of immigration on record came to the country under May, NI numbers showing that the numbers were even higher than those published by the Home Office!

        At what point do you and the leavers get the drift May is incompetent, untrustworthy, cannot keep her word, and is a disgrace to herself, the party and Nation? May has been unable to keep the citizens of this country safe as HS and PM bit thinks it is okay to bomb Syria! She appears to me to be a few bricks short of a load when it comes to judgement, decision making, keeping her word. A walking disaster as the last election showed, and again, she said six times publicly there would not be an election!

        1. Peter
          April 22, 2018

          Well said. It has been obvious for some time that May will not be removed and she will delay and concede until we have Brexit in Name Only.

        2. Lifelogic
          April 23, 2018

          Indeed but she is, alas, rather like most of her dire party! Only at best perhaps 100 on the sound wing.

          The only positive she has is she is not quite as bad as Corbyn.

    2. Atlas
      April 21, 2018

      Indeed so. Perhaps somebody could remind the PM of her “No deal is better than a bad deal” stance…

      1. Hope
        April 21, 2018

        It matters not because she never keeps her word. The leavers could use the breaking of her red lines, Lancaster speech, extension as a vassal state different from what she promised and additional give aways such as our waters and fishing stocks, or security and defence for nothing in return, Mansion House capitulation promise to EU as reasons to sack her, anyone in private business would be sacked.

        The MP leavers are now content to remain in the EU. There is no other possible explanation.

        Why have Clarke, Soubry Grieve, Hammond, Morgan and others been allowed to keep the whip after voting against the govt under a whipped vote? The Lords followed their mark this week. May happily watching from the sidelines. No action against, P Hammond, Carney, civil service at Treasury or KitKat policy. May has the authority and responsibility to act, she has not. These were her choices, no accident, deliberate choices. May has contrived with these to keep the U.K. In the EU in all but name.

        1. Lifelogic
          April 21, 2018

          I fear you are exactly right. May is clearly another fraud. Cameron claimed to be a “low tax at heart”, “cast iron”, “Eurosceptic” to get elected leader. He turned out to be a Europhile, cast rubber, tax to death, war mongering liar very quickly indeed. Then abandoned the office when he lost.

          May said “Brexit means Brexit and claimed she was strong and stable leader. It turns out she is very dim and not even remotely a Conservative. She is another dreadful, PC bossy LibDim with a broken compass. One who actually really is nasty (with her “go home immigrant vans”) and rather incompetent too. As we see with Windrush and her gesture bombing of Syria and her punishment manifesto election.

          She is essentially the misguided voice of the state sector yet again ignoring the 80% who do not have gold plated state pensions, just have to pay for them.

  2. Mark B
    April 21, 2018

    Good morning.

    I do not blame the EU for doing this, but I do blame the UK Government for signing up to regulatory convergence (Single Market by another name) and note that our kind host no longer talks about the Single Market knowing how our government has capitulated on that.

    I believe that the EU will let the UK Government win this one. It needs May in place and, if she capitulates on this then she and her party are really finished, we would be in the EU in all but name or, as an Associate Member.

    This is what happens when you have a government that fails to plan, does not want to leave the EU, and simply has no clue either about the EU or its history and future.

    It is ironic that, the UK Government was happy to allow the Scots to leave the UK but, when it came to leaving the EU they throw up all manner of barriers.

    I said sometime ago when people were talking about Dr. R. North’s FLEXIT and the dispute between him and our kind host on the best method of leaving the EU. I mentioned that, someone (North or Redwood MP) was going to end up with egg on their faces. I still hold that view.

    1. Hope
      April 21, 2018

      JR, knows perfectly well May was prepared to give away N. Ireland in December when she went grovelling at night to the EU. Thank fully the DUP caught her out being underhand and act of betrayal to this country and Particularly N.Ireland. What did JR and others do? Nothing. Lancaster capitulation, nothing. Red line capitualion, nothing. Whipped not to demonstrate over giving away our territorial waters and fishing stocks, complied.

      Fox: leavers will have to get use to disappoint,England. Davis: we may never leave he EU. Hammond: modest changes only when we leave. Project fear allowed to flourish through Treasury and civil service. Civil service allowed to bargain to hide real cost from public. Carney: still in post despite all predictions being wrong, failing to act on figures and being too political. All a coincidence? I think not. None of this rebutted one jot by May and she still cannot say the befits of leaving after saying you have to beleive in Brexit to deliver it! May even kisses the cheek of th man who makes repeated threats to our nation, who does that?

      Reply I have argued against the concessions. None of them have been voted on, as nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.

      1. Hope
        April 21, 2018

        She failed to secure parallel talks per article 50 and agreed sequential talks, she failed all points in her Lancaster speech, failed all her red lines failed her line by line examination promise to the taxpayer, failed her terms of what extension she wanted, let EU write/ edit the Florence speech, moreover in her Mansion House speech stated she would not walk away or resort to WTO terms, what does she have to fail to deliver, what promise does she have to break for you to see that she will accept any deal at any price all examples to date show this when it is absolutely clear it is already a bad deal that no one in their right mind would agree to. Australia claiming it would not allow 27 other countries to determine its trade policy which she has effectively done under regulatory alignment whether there is a deal or not. She was caught out by the DUP trying giving away N. Ireland!

        BTW, Guido already showing a clip of amay from 2004 where May claims the minister should resign for not taking responsibility and allowing civil service to take the blame. Hypocrite does not begin to describe her actions to date as HS or PM.

      2. Mark B
        April 22, 2018

        Reply to reply

        Will you get to vote on these concessions ? Concessions I remind you, that we should never have made.

        Reply Yes, if they are confirmed as a deal

    2. Denis Cooper
      April 21, 2018

      Notwithstanding typical Remoaner misrepresentations the backstop position which was provisionally accepted by the UK government was actually for full alignment only with “those rules of the Internal Market and the Customs Union which, now or in the future, support North-South cooperation, the all island economy and the protection of the 1998 Agreement”, which could be taken to mean no more than the UK taking effective action to prohibit and prevent the export across the border of any goods which do not meet EU standards.

      Paragraph 49 here:

      I describe it as a “provisional” commitment because as we know that report is not legally binding and “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed”.

  3. Stred
    April 21, 2018

    Everything makes sense here. Unfortunately, the Conservative Party has appointed a leader who seems to be working for the other side and has made mistakes with every policy that has been presented to her, aided by a civil service which is allied to the EU. They will attempt to concede everything to their masters in Brussels.

    1. Iain Lees
      April 21, 2018

      How does “this all make sense” ?

      A currency “border” does not need enforced. There are not taxes on moving a currency across a border. It is not equivalent.

  4. Mick
    April 21, 2018

    I’m fed up with the Eu using the ROI as a stumbling block on our withdrawal, it’s about time your government grew a pair and told the Eu on your bike , let’s have a hard border give Northern Ireland a sweetener of the 40 billion , and keep the rest then walk away from the talks , we voted to leave the dreaded Eu with no strings, so any deal that keeps us in a single market or custom union would be seen as a betrayal of the 17.4 million and would be political suicide for any party

    1. Sir Joe Soap
      April 21, 2018

      Good point-we have that £40 billion then to build a Northern Ireland to dream of – perhaps a tax-free zone for 20 years?

      1. Hope
        April 21, 2018

        Not £40 billion, £100 billion as it also includes U.K. Assets in the EU, per Davis to Patel in parliament.

    2. Man of Kent
      April 21, 2018

      ‘ Fed up with the EU using the ROI as a stumbling block ‘

      Please don’t forget that Ireland pleaded with the EU to take this line in the interest of achieving a United Ireland .

      Indeed they boasted about their skills in diplomacy immediately afterwards .

      The fault of TM has been in undertaking to keep a frictionless border against advice and last December agreeing to mirror EU regulations throughout the UK ‘in the absence of any other agreement ‘.

      She has boxed herself in and needs to go now ,before she can do any further harm .
      So get those letters in Dr Redwood [ and others] and let’s have a change .

      Or if she feels brave enough with a 5% lead over labour call another election .

      Unfortunately her 20% lead last time round evaporated with her ridiculous socialist manifesto .

      All I know is that if we stay in the Customs Union or shadow it I’ll never vote Conservative again but will for any small party that stands for my old values of the individual and the nation state .

      1. L Jones
        April 21, 2018

        Man of Kent – you speak for many of us. Very well put. I do hope that Dr Redwood agrees with you wholeheartedly too. Who knows? He may be one of that ”small party” eventually!

  5. Richard1
    April 21, 2018

    You have to hand it to the EU their ruse has worked pretty well! Commentators and remain supporting politicians,and of course the eu, assure us it is impossible to maintain border arrangements compliant with the Good Friday agreement without being in the customs union and single market, therefore this technicality obliges the U.K. to remain in both. If that really the case of course it would be better to have done with it and stay in the EU.

    You put the alternative case to this contrived issue well. Unfortunately it seems Mrs May and the civil servants working on Brexit are less robust.

    1. Heath
      April 21, 2018

      Exactly! Redwood’s tales of holding all the cards in this negotiation are exposed as false. Better off remaining

      Reply We have very strong cards but we need to play them! I would withdraw the money offer for starters, and tell them we are leaving without a deal in March next year unless they come up with much better trade offer.

      1. Richard1
        April 21, 2018

        Reply to reply: it is completely clear the govt have no intention of pursuing such a strategy. So the question now is what kind of compromised Brexit will we get. I do not see any point in being out of the EU but in the customs union and single market.

      2. alan jutson
        April 21, 2018

        Reply to reply

        If only the Government would support your thinking and position John.
        Unfortunately it does not seem to have the foresight or the will to face up to the EU, play the cards we hold well.

        Instead they just seem to believe all of the EU bluff and bluster, and throw a good and possible winning hand in on every occasion.

        It must make you as sick as the rest of us !

      3. Mark B
        April 22, 2018

        Reply to reply.

        The EU cannot negotiate with itself on trade. The UK must leave the EU first.

        Reply If they wanted to they could agree a Free Trade Agreement now and bring it in the day we leave. If they don’t want to we should leave without paying them any money

    2. stred
      April 21, 2018

      It’s not ‘their ruse’. It’s ours and theirs, worked out in meetings between ex PMs, ex commissioners and ex EU civil servants in the Lords and treacherous MPs. May cannot be quite that stupid. She knows the plan and her job is to use her speech and flexibility of non existent belief skills to keep the Remainers and Leavers in the Party from splitting. They believe that, with the TV media continously lying over the next few years and big money from abroad, Brexit can be reversed or neutered. They also feel safe in London, which is an island of Europhillia and an international socialist stronghold. Any Brexiteer demonstration would be set upon by the usual violent rentacrowd and probably the senior officers would order the ranks to stand by, if not assist.

      1. Denis Cooper
        April 21, 2018

        Yep, Sir Ivan Rogers is sticking his oar in again.

    3. Alison
      April 21, 2018

      It is desperately important that Mrs May goes. The Commission took her measure very early on. They have been nice to her recently – talking, smiling. But we need to remember that her fellow EU Council member cold-shouldered her, totally, several times, in the early weeks of the opening of negotiations, and they did it not just to intimidate, but to cow her.

  6. formula57
    April 21, 2018

    Can we not rely upon Ministers to remind Civil Servants of the case? Perhaps not!

    The UK being willing and able to make border arrangements satisfactory to it, we should simply say “our border, your problem” to the Evil Empire.

    The Republic of Ireland may not of course be allowed by the Evil Empire to make sensible arrangements that work for it. It might therefore reflect that the whole question comes down to one of timing and accelerate matters by exiting the Evil Empire contemporaneously with the UK.

    1. anon
      April 21, 2018

      Strategic thinkers in Ireland are probably already well down that path.

      Most sensible Irish will reconsider the options available to them post Brexit.
      Hence the EU is worried, Ireland is likely to have economic and political advantages in leaving the EU, in short order.

      The Irish “EU” know this and are using this issue to ensure this rolling stone is cemented in. They can only do this if the UK “in effect” agrees to stay in the EU.

      As always we wish them all well in resolving issues in Ireland, subject to democratic agreement of the people.

      Maybe they should run a referendum, in Ireland, on the situation post Brexit.

  7. Kenneth
    April 21, 2018

    We must push ahead with our plans for a physically open border with electronic checks.

    What the Irish decide to do on their side is their business

    1. Timaction
      April 21, 2018

      I agree. I believe its news management contrived by EU and UK negotiators to give up everything the EU wants to keep us in their clutches and under their rules. Regulatory alignment is a guise for EU rule. Only those company’s exporting goods or services to the EU need to comply with their rules and them with ours as we diverge. Same as USA, China, etc. Tax, environment or anything else should be the decision of our Government of the day, not the EU! Mrs May’s dithering and salami slicing concessions is simply NOT acceptable. She has already conceded far to much to the unelected dictators in Brussels under Franco/German rule.

    2. alan jutson
      April 21, 2018


      Agree, we leave with our own plans in place to suit and protect us if no sensible agreement is forthcoming, its then an EU problem, they need to come up with a solution if they do not like what we will propose and put in place.

      Time to stand firm, although unfortunately I have said that many times before recently and our Government have caved in.

  8. Peter Wood
    April 21, 2018

    Good Morning,

    Well I hope we’re not relying on the civil servants to negotiate this aspect for us!

    Thank heaven for the DUP.

  9. GY
    April 21, 2018

    Let’s hope that EU intransigence on this issue ends this charade of a negotiated agreement.

  10. Ian wragg
    April 21, 2018

    This is nothing more than a blatant attempt to bring down the government and force a second referendum. A very risky strategy as we may well vote leave in greater numbers. I do believe that the British people are getting thoroughly fed up with Brussels intransigence.
    You realise that the Tories will be wiped out at the next election. Then again some might think that it’s a price worth paying to stay as a Vassal state of Europe.

    1. Hope
      April 21, 2018

      Letwin made it clear that to act upon the public vote was more important than any issue before parliament. This is the greatest betrayal of the people of this great nation by a handful of politicos who treat the public with utter contempt.

      May has not taken any action against those who voted against the whipped vote. She is using all means to bring about a leave in name only. What PM has ever been prepared to give away part of our nation to a foreign body other than May? She tried to redeem her underhand actions in giving away N. Ireland but was caught out by the DUP. Her party and leavers stood silently by. She has betrayed the British people.

      1. Iago
        April 21, 2018

        Thank you, Hope. Well said.

  11. ChrisS
    April 21, 2018

    The difficulties the EU is making over the Irish border are nothing more than a blatant attempt to help the campaign by Remainer to thwart the referendum result. In doing so they are ignoring the European Parliament’s own report saying that a solution using existing technology is perfectly workable.

    ( )

    By pandering to Varadkar, the 27 have given an absolute veto over any overall Brexit deal to an inexperienced and rather naive Taoiseach. Contrast his increasingly desperate outpourings over Brexit with the carefully measured comments from the vastly experienced Bertie Ahern who has said very clearly that a workable agreement should not be a problem.

    Unfortunately the Irish Border question is demonstrating the massive forces Remainers can bring to bear against Brexit. The truth is that this should have been sorted months ago if there was good will on both sides. There isn’t, and in circumstances like this, it’s always the case that truth and the facts are nothing more than an inconvenience to the EU and Remainers.

    Our Government has to stand firm and threaten to walk away if the 27 refuse to see reason. If we were to capitulate and stay in the/a customs union with the EU, so much time, money and political capital has been invested in Liam Fox and his Department for International Trade that Mrs May’s government could not survive the loss of face around the world.

    It would demonstrate once and for all that no country, even one as large as ours, can ever escape the clutches of Brussels.

    This is thereason why the stakes are so very high.

  12. David D
    April 21, 2018

    Given the pitiful level of skill displayed so far by politicians and officials allegedly representing the UK I doubt that they are likely to suddenly robustly defend any position. Their performance so far has forced May to flout norms of legal process with accusations and attacks on Russia simply to divert attention from the debacle. I could walk round any boot sale held this Sunday and find 50 better negotiators than out dreadful government can field. All I see is failure and capitulation in every report on Brexit.

  13. Epikouros
    April 21, 2018

    The Irish border is a very porous border. Smuggling and exploitation of CAP(moving the same animals repeatedly back and forth to exploit the CAP system) was and is quite a regular occurence. Tariffs will of course increase smuggling but to forestall remainers exploiting this as a reason for staying in the customs union it will have to be pointed out that it is not a major cause for concern. All borders where moving goods clandestinely across is profitable have the same problem but the relevant authorities customs and excise and the like find ways to reduce it. Never stopping it completely but usually to a level that does no serious economic or social damage.

    Leavers are having to contend with scaremongering at an unprecedented level as there are many nefarious vested interest groups contending to wreck Brexit. All have their reasons which are either self interest or misguided. The misguided we can at least find some forgiveness out of pity for having such feeble intellects. The ones who are doing it out of self interest we cannot forgive because they are putting self before country. Civil servants who should hang their heads in shame for so flagrantly breaking the rule of impartiality a major qualification of their job and those who see the EU as a personal milch cow are the worst. Coming a credible second are those politicians in left wing parties (right wing politicians are just misguided) who seek to exploit Brexit to further their causes. This kind of behaviour is enough to turn the most optimistic and humane into a misanthrope.

  14. Jack snell
    April 21, 2018

    Nothing silly about any of this at has the potential to bring us crashing out march 2019 and with no deal as to the where to go? What to do?
    It is obvious now we are not going to be allowed to take the deals we want with them by bespoke arrangement and ignore the others..and because of all the red lines in place we are looking at a FTA by WTO rules..well if government and our negotiaters consider that good enough then let’s get on with it..the new international trade deals as per the Commonwealth and Liam Fox are out there waiting for what will happen in this case is that the Irish Border will just reappear once more with all of it’s trappings customs posts police and doubt about that..but our trade with the biggest trading bloc in the world will be reduced to zilch..nothing silly about any of this

    1. Denis Cooper
      April 21, 2018

      So who is going to install those “trappings”, “customs posts police and army”?

      Given that for the past quarter of a century we have been allowing goods produced to EU standards to enter Northern Ireland from the Irish Republic without any checks at the border, why should we start checking them now? At least for the time being this is their problem, not ours, and we really have no need to do anything beyond offering to help them protect the integrity of their Single Market.

    2. mancunius
      April 21, 2018

      If the EU insist the RoI put physical barriers and customs posts in place rather than apply a sensible, mature, technical solution, that is by definition silly, for the EU has ‘zilch’ to do with the GFA, and technical solutions – as agreed by all the world’s customs experts – are easily obtainable. The EU will see reason quite quickly once we have told them we are leaving without a deal.
      We have a trade deficit with the EU, so WTO terms are in many ways preferable, as we have then the complete freedom to restore our balance of trade and decide who we want to trade with.
      The cry of ‘Wolf!’ no longer impresses anyone.

      1. Hope
        April 21, 2018

        May has already dismissed she will walk away or resort to WTO terms in her Mansion House speech. She also said that she will not accept it is an EU problem over the Irish border as we created by leaving. May effectively gave the green light to the protests by the Irish and the EU so that she would accept remaining in the customs union. What other reason would she show her capitulating hand in advance through a public speech?

        1. mancunius
          April 22, 2018

          Theresa May: Mansion House Speech:
          “Our departure from the EU causes very particular challenges for Northern Ireland, and for Ireland…We chose to leave; we have a responsibility to help find a solution. But we can’t do it on our own. It is for all of us to work together…Just as it would be unacceptable to go back to a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, it would also be unacceptable to break up the United Kingdom’s own common market by creating a customs and regulatory border down the Irish Sea.”
          “The UK has been clear it is leaving the Customs Union. “

          1. Hope
            April 22, 2018

            Part of a quote does not cut the mustard. Even the part you had highlight demonstrates, with agreement to date, that regulatory alignment applies whether there is a deal or not so she has fulfilled the part about not creating a border down the Irish Sea by committing the whole of the UK to the single market because a tenth of one percent of goods is traded across the Irish border. The backstop agreement she has agreed to is also missing from your quote. Meaning if no solution found it is up to the U.K. To find a solution failing this the U.K. Will remain in a customs union.

            Currently Robbins touting for a customs agreement! I appreciate your view but a selected portion of a quote is misrepsenting the current position.

  15. James Matthews
    April 21, 2018

    “I trust the UK will give a robust defence of this approach and demonstrate that the Irish border is a put up job by the EU to push us back into conformity.”

    I certainly hope that will be the case. “Trust” though, not so much.

  16. Lifelogic
    April 21, 2018

    A silly ruse indeed, but a robust defence from May? It seems rather unlikely, she is nore interested in green crap, plastics and gender pay distractions. Also making sure the home office total incompetence does not damage her personally too much. This while continuing to increase taxes and daft regulations even further

  17. A.Sedgwick
    April 21, 2018

    Quite so, regrettably Mrs.May will sell us down the various EU rivers by 29/03/19.

  18. Christine
    April 21, 2018

    The EU is just using the border issue to try to thwart Brexit. The sooner the people of the RoI realise that the EU is not their friend the sooner this can be sorted out. Exports from NI to the RoI are tiny. It would be cheaper for the UK Government to stop all land exports than to fudge together a deal that damages the rest of Great Britain. NI exports could be sent via GB to RoI ports. For those that can’t, compensation can be given to businesses facing loses. There seems to be an assumption that a trade deal will not be struck. This seems an odd way to start negotiations. Our Government needs to start standing up to the EU bullying or the people will start revolting. We really have had enough of these political shenanigans. We need a new political party that will deliver what the people voted for.

  19. Know-Dice
    April 21, 2018

    The EU’s solution to this has been linked to several times on your blog, but here it is again –

    Smart Border 2.0
    Avoiding a hard border on the island of
    Ireland for Customs control and the free
    movement of persons

    But, I share the frustration of others in that the UK Government seems to be incapable of promoting these facts in the main stream media. The conclusion is the Mrs May, Mr Hammond and Mr Davis want to kowtow to the EU and regardless of her words our Prime Minister really does intend to give us Brexit in name only…

  20. nigelR
    April 21, 2018

    Demographics of the Irish border region show that there will be a united Ireland in the EU within a generation, so if we extend back then to where we are now present time and if we are being honest and realistic we should be planning for that future in twenty thirty years time- a future without Ireland and maybe even a future without Scotland. Everything is changing so fast now that we can hardly keep up- I am afraid the United Kingdom as we knew it is on the slippery slope and mainly because of weak Tory governments allowing themselves to being hounded by a Tory right wing factions all running scared in case of UKIP revival and the arrival of the dark age of Corbynism waiting in the long grass. You see it’s all come to this-because politicians say ‘what’s in it for me’- not what can I do for my country? Even this diary is called speaking for England- I presume England only? so you see where we’re going now..we caused the problems in Ireland in the first place- not in our generation but in Lloyd Georges time and further back, we have a responsibility now to set things right – if we can

    1. Billy Elliot
      April 21, 2018

      I agree with you nigelR.
      UK is on a slippery slope and indeed NI might become part of RoI. What it comes to Scotland I would not be surprised if they would have referendum and vote “Leave” on general principle. So arrogantly has this government treated them.

  21. majorfrustration
    April 21, 2018

    “UK Civil Service negotiators understand” that seems a big ask.

    1. Lifelogic
      April 21, 2018

      Doutless they are all in the Lord ex Cabinet Secretary mode.

  22. agricola
    April 21, 2018

    You state the situation very clearly, pointing out that the exaggeration of border difficulties is manufactured by the EU as a negotiating ploy. Goods can flow and dues get paid whatever the final agreement between the UK and EU.

    Last November I flew from Dublin to Birmingham and was amazed to see that there were no checks on travellers arriving in Birmingham. Considering the number of people of Arabic origin I saw in Dublin I was doubly surprised. Passports need to be checked at any point of entry from Ireland north and south lest this becomes a backdoor point of entry to the UK mainland.

    I would finally suggest that we need a national registration of all UK citizens supported with a suitable plastic I/D. Lack of such should quickly identify the estimated two million illegals in the UK and reduce their impact on overloaded UK services.

    1. roger parkin
      April 21, 2018

      I totally agree with your last paragraph. Many parts of the world have an I/D card
      system. There is no good argument for us not to follow and enjoy the many advantages it would bring.

    2. Timaction
      April 21, 2018

      ………..exaggeration of border difficulties is manufactured by the EU as a negotiating ploy………….
      So why aren’t the UK Government or its negotiating people stating this in news releases or in rebuttal statements? Seems to me its contrived news management by the Government/msm to reduce expectation and promote its eventual BRINO sell out!
      Any news on the disciplinary proceedings for gross misconduct for the Kit Kats in Mr Davis’s sell out team?

  23. Adam
    April 21, 2018

    EU seeks £40 bn & obstructive nuisance in Northern Ireland.

    Happier Finding:
    Mint £40bn of gold into Brexit sovereigns, worth £2k each.
    Award 11 to each of Northern Ireland’s 1.8m citizens!

    1. Sir Joe Soap
      April 21, 2018

      We should certainly also be attracting Irish workers and for Irish companies to set up affiliates in NI by giving generous tax incentives using this cash.

      1. Adam
        April 21, 2018

        Yes, Sir Joe, & their Brexit Dividend of £22,000 each enables them all a strong start.

  24. BOF
    April 21, 2018

    Who could argue. Unfortunately facts, truth and logic do not feature in anything coming from remoaners in the Lords or in Parliament or the appalling EU nest of corruption. I could never have imagined so many people in positions of power and influence willing to undermine their own country.

    I fully expect our useless lot to make a great show and then, as have done throughout the process, capitulate. Have they so little business acumen or even plain common sense to understand that they are being manipulated because the greatest fear is a free trading UK. If we are manipulated into any kind of customs arrangement it will be seriously detrimental.

  25. Heath
    April 21, 2018

    But the PM has already agreed we will follow all the rules of the EU, for evermore. Did you fail to notice?

    1. mancunius
      April 21, 2018

      No, she has not.

  26. Sir Joe Soap
    April 21, 2018

    The time has come to make this issue the “Alamo” of these negotiations. I have the feeling that the EU hasn’t the measure of Great Britain’s trust and loyalty to the people of Northern Ireland. There is no way we can be divided by the EU on this matter. If the EU wants a hard border and no cash, then fine. If they want to accept our solution to our border, then fine also.

  27. Patrick Mallen
    April 21, 2018

    An Irish uncle of mine was part of the management team at the Players cigarettes in the 1990’s. To combat criminals hijacking their lorries and drivers knocking off in the mid afternoon they employed a security firm to install and manage a tracking system in each lorry, in many ways identical to the system the UK is proposing. Unsurprisingly, it worked.

  28. Denis Cooper
    April 21, 2018

    Again today Richard North highlights that the serious problems for keeping the Irish land border as open as it has been since 1993 relate to the EU Single Market, not to the EU Customs Union which is a relatively minor issue:

    “Once there is an unguarded “back door”, goods from Northern Ireland can enter into the Republic and … must be allowed free access to other Member States, with no checks at the internal borders … the way would then be free for exporters … to use Northern Ireland … as a portal into the EU, evading most or all of the checks that would normally apply to third country goods.”

    Of course we could offer to continue to act as a guard on that “back door”, a role which we have now, in effect, while we are in the EU; we could say that we would pass new legislation to replace that specific aspect of our present EU Single Market legislation and serve that same narrow practical purpose; and we could promise to constantly and closely work with the EU to prevent Northern Ireland being used as a portal for illicit goods to flood into the EU.

    But would the paranoid EU trust us to do that, or would they immediately assume that if we ever agreed to import “chlorinated chicken” from the US then that would not be for our own domestic consumption but rather so we could deliberately flood their Single Market with a harmful substandard product?

  29. mickc
    April 21, 2018

    If the EU wants a hard border the UK should make it plain that it is the EU which is the cause. Let responsibility lie with those creating the problem. Certainly the UK should not put any physical barrier on its side of the border; let the EU be shown as the guilty party.

  30. patch
    April 21, 2018

    “Solving the Irish border” ?

    Except this blog post doesnt solve it. After reading this i am still none the wiser.

    It says nothing about common regulations and standards or the common agricultural policy. I presume if we keep all the EU regulations, then the above will be acceptable to the EU.

    Which means staying inside the single market!


    1. mancunius
      April 21, 2018

      It is the EU single market (and its customs union) that *by definition* we leave when leaving the EU.
      Of course we are not going keep EU regulations. We regain control of our own laws: nothing difficult to understand about that.

  31. RupertP
    April 21, 2018

    Completely correct – The EU is set on forcing the UK to, in effect, stay in the Customs Union and the Single Market, with no say – The UK is being walked slowly and steadily to this outcome, which is why the EU isn’t bothering with trade talks with the UK.

    Unfortunately, politely giving a “robust defence” isn’t going to get the UK anywhere, as the EU can and will continue to say no. The EU has carefully laid the ground to ensure that a “no deal” outcome will be even less attractive to the UK than accepting “vassal state” status where the UK can be exploited by the EU for years to come…

  32. John Finn
    April 21, 2018

    John, we know the border issue is a ruse, but the EU have been significantly emboldened by the recent HoL vote and the proposal of “a” Customs Union arrangement by the Labour Party. The EU are not going to listen to reason unless it’s made clear to them that the position of the UK negotiators (led by TM) has the strong backing of the British people.

    Unlike , many Brexit voters, I believe May is trying to deliver a Brexit which is as close as possible to what we all want. Ok- we can argue about stuff like the money and ECJ influence but these are not long term issues. The problem is that hard line Leave supporters are not backing May. This is a mistake because if May fails I’m convinced Brexit won’t happen.

    What, in reality, would happen if the UK did walk away from negotiations.

    1. mancunius
      April 21, 2018

      It is the hard line Remainers in Parliament who are not backing May, and voting against the government. They even include a swath of arch-Remainer Tory postholders in the Lords impudently voting down their own government’s Withdrawal Bill in defiance of the will of the people.
      Leaver MPs and Lords continue to support her.

  33. Ghost of JB
    April 21, 2018

    What the EU is fearful of is not that current trade managed electronically is difficult, rather that a group of EU citizens will realise that they are paying vastly inflated prices for goods to fund its bureaucracy and insane interference in sectors of the economy and product issues that have no cross-border or international relevance.

    We should bid the EU a not-so-fond adieu (or à l’enfer) as soon as is humanly possible.

  34. English Pensioner
    April 21, 2018

    Why should the Irish border be a significant problem? It’s been there since partition and has generally been managed in an amicable manner, only the EU wants to change things, not the UK.
    Why not a fuss about all the other EU land borders? The Swiss border is an obvious one, but I would have thought the other land borders and the Mediterranean sea borders were a far greater problem. As usual, the EU makes a mountain out of a molehill and refuses to see the real problems.

  35. Rien Huizer
    April 21, 2018

    The status of the UK/Ireland border could vary between one similar to the border with the Russian Republic, or the one with “membership candidates” like Ukraine and Turkey or the Swedish/Norwegian border. A hard brexit would turn NI into a sort of Kaliningrad, except for some remnants that are separate of EU membership. It is not in the EU’d interest to have a border with a third country that is not sufficiently policed. Since the UK and Ireland have agreed certain things, the conflict must be resolved by either upgrading the border to the EU/Russia level or by having the UK in some sort of “customs union” that would prevent leakage etc. ASnd given the fact that the UK does not have the bargaining power to get what it wants, it should settle for wanting what it can get. Simple.

    1. Denis Cooper
      April 21, 2018

      We don’t have to settle for anything, if anybody wanted to fortify the border it would not be us on our side but the EU on their side. That is, unless the EU intends to send across goods which would be illegal on their side under EU law.

    2. anon
      April 21, 2018

      The EU is incapable of policing and respecting its borders. It relies on others to respect its rules and payst them for it. Major example is Turkey.

      The EU is flooded with illegal economic immigrants as a consequence of its failures.

      The citizens of the EU are alas impotent. The EU clearly do not respect democracy at all.

      Brexit is a wakeup call, that is being silenced and muffled by opponents of democracy.

    3. GY
      April 21, 2018

      Let the EU police their side and we are free to do whatever we want on our side. We don’t have to bargain for anything. A CU would be political suicide for the Tories.

    4. rose
      April 21, 2018

      So N Ireland presents a similar threat to the EU that Russia does, borderwise?

      Gibraltar isn’t in the CU and Switzerland isn’t either, though the latter is in Schengen and the former will be in the CTA with the rest of the UK and Ireland. What is the threat?

  36. Robbie
    April 21, 2018

    I think it is opportune to point out that the British Govt agreed to the terms of the draft withdrawal agreement along with the form of words which you find objectionable. Perhaps you should take issue with the Govt negotiators on this score. The EU is in fact implementing this agreed position.

    I would also point out that the various option put forward by the British govt have been roundly rejected not only by the EU, but also by leading industry experts as unworkable. You speak in very general terms but the lack of precision is the key point here.

    Until the govt places a workable solution on the table it would always seem that this is being weoponised by the EU. However, in reality, it is in fact being driven by our closest trading partner, the Republic of Ireland. The ROI has just as much interest in arriving at a solution as the UK, bearing in mind the level of trade between our two countries.

    The fact that we cannot present a viable solution means that we in the UK should look at ourselves in the mirror, rather than blaming the EU

    1. Denis Cooper
      April 21, 2018

      Probably best if you look up exactly what was said in that draft agreement.

      1. Robbie
        April 24, 2018

        Strange advice I don’t need as I know exactly what is in it. Unfortunately the UK Govt. does need reminding as it looks like it will have to honour the “Backstop” it freely and willingly agreed to in the absence of any realistic alternative. Quite how it does it is down to negotiation, however, we risk becoming a political laughing stock if we renege or provide fantastical unicorn solutions in place of serious ones.

  37. L Jones
    April 21, 2018

    You ”trust the UK will give a robust defence of this approach.” But will the negotiators that we have at the moment heed these wise words? It seems nearly everyone has lost faith in them and see them as ”fall guys” for Mrs May’s disastrous doings, and sometimes lapdogs licking the egos of their EU masters.

  38. Simon
    April 21, 2018

    How is your “oh so simple” and we are all idiots for doubting you Brexit; going now Mr Redwood ?

  39. G Wilson
    April 21, 2018

    It’s worse than a put-up job, it’s a veiled threat of a return to the terrorism of Sinn Fein/IRA.

    Even those who voted to remain must now see the urgency of ensuring we resist this blackmail, so we don’t become targets for even more blackmail.

  40. Michael
    April 21, 2018

    Walk away from these EU negotiations. Leave without a deal. We should not be weak wobbly at this critical time. Staying in the/a customs union would be a feeble outcome..

  41. Dennis Zoff
    April 21, 2018

    Excellent point John.

    As in business, if two parties wish to come together in good faith and make an arrangement that is both practical and mutually beneficial to both parties, then a deal can be struck with minimal complications or fuss.

    However, if one party is overly obstructive, politically motivated and does not have a common purpose, the arrangement is dead. This is the position the EU and the Irish PM wish to pursue, for their own agendas, ably enabled by T. May’s incompetent Government.

    There is a simple solution:

    All parties agree on the UK and Ireland’s unique relationship, due to their long history, financial and cultural links, The Good Friday Agreement and commonsense, and therefore be given a waiver on the EU Customs Union law. This waiver would be, to make no changes to the current in-situ status quo…..then, of course, I woke up and realised we are dealing with a very intransigent set of politically motivated individuals that don’t want it to work, hence your point!

    Whether this would have been politically achievable remains an interesting point, but, I ask, is there a better solution?

    As we say in business “boil all the negatives down to one point and do the deal”

    To illustrate this point. In 2003 a $65 Million deal closure was hanging on one legal contract “sentence ” entry that both legal parties disagreed with and where digging their heels in, in an obdurate manner, much to the annoyance of all concerned (does this bring back memories John?)…the legal beagles just could not agree on the sentence to be inserted. To get this small contract completed, a five-minute conversation was held between the other company’s SVP for finance and myself, whereby he and I agreed on a one-word modification that changed the contractual dynamics and the deal was done!

    A case of – The legal beagles just could not see the woods for the trees!…someone had to step in and settle it for the good of all concerned. It was not really a legal issue, but simply a commonsense issue.

  42. Edwardm
    April 21, 2018

    You are quite right, the solution to the NI border need only be an enhancement to the current arrangements. Nothing too difficult except for the EU.
    Mrs May should never have agreed to finding a solution to both sides of the NI border that the EU can then veto. Each side should be responsible for its own side of the border.

    The EU clearly only wants subservience, or else no deal. No deal is our best option on offer – and the EU should now go to the back of our queue.
    The unfriendly attitude that the EU keeps asserting towards us just proves how right we are to leave.

  43. Denis Cooper
    April 21, 2018

    Here’s a letter I’ve just sent to our local paper, the Maidenhead Advertiser:

    “Dear Sir

    Our Prime Minister’s “turn the other cheek” approach to negotiations with the EU may be consistent with her Christian upbringing, but it is not necessarily in the national interest.

    To take just the latest humiliation which the EU is proposing to heap upon our bowed heads, our over-conciliatory government has supinely accepted that the land border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic represents a problem for us, when in reality it is a problem for them.

    For the past quarter of a century we have been happy to allow goods to flow into the UK across that border without any attempt to intercept and inspect them, because we trust they will conform to EU Single Market standards and therefore they do not need to be checked.

    That will not change when we leave the EU, that is not unless the EU arbitrarily decides to allow EU producers and exporters to break EU laws and send rubbish over the border.

    In contrast the EU cannot assume that the trickle of goods moving the other way from the UK into the Irish Republic and the rest of the EU will continue to conform to EU standards once we have left the EU, and that could create a problem.

    However the problem will be for them, not for us as they like to pretend; in principle we could just tell them we will do nothing to restrict the present free flow of goods coming in from the Republic, and it is entirely up to them to decide what they want to do on their side of the border.

    On the other hand we could decide to overlook their unreasonable attitude and helpfully offer to enact and enforce new UK laws to prevent any goods which the EU would find unacceptable being exported across the border into the EU, and if they were prepared to trust us on that it might at least ease their near-paranoid concern about the integrity of their precious Single Market.

    Yours etc”


    “Their problem, not ours:

    “Britain urged to come up with a fresh Brexit Border plan”

    The British side “… are also insisting on the future right to diverge from EU law, which the EU fears could open the floodgates to chlorinated chicken and hormone-injected beef if the UK agrees a free-trade deal with the US that includes agriculture.”

  44. Helen Smith
    April 21, 2018

    I’m pissed off to the back teeth with this now, we voted Leave believing that meant leaving the SM and CU and nothing less than this will do. It is hard to credit that we have MPs who are prepared to ignore the referendum result, and think that they will be able to govern this country in the wake of that betrayal.

    This is why I never wanted to go down the Article 50/negotiation route. Might work with a country but never with a political construct like the EU which is run by appointees with no care for the people of the EU.

  45. Ron Olden
    April 21, 2018

    The EU has been pretending for two years that it wants to avoid a Hard Border in Ireland.

    In fact however, as we all know they’ve using Ireland as a stick with which to blackmail the UK and have been holding the Republic of Ireland as hostage.

    We must do whatever was can to help ROI through all this.

    A Hard Border is not a problem for the UK. It’s a problem for ROI, which amongst other things will have to to build the border barriers and police them.

    The EU has rejected Mrs May’s plan to avoid this outcome. So Hard Border it is then.

    What does the EU intend to do, build a wall? Didn’t Bertie Aherne say that if they did, the public would tear it down?

    Mrs May doesn’t have to anything about the Irish Border. All we have to do is maintain our position making it clear, that there’ll be no Hard Border as far as we’re concerned, and that Irish people and goods will be able come and go as they please.

    We don’t want tariffs with the ROI. Tariffs are self harming. So why would we impose a Hard Border?

    There seems to be a continuing misunderstanding about tariffs. Remainers seem to think that we have to reach agreement with other countries in order to avoid imposing them on the things we buy from abroad.

    No we don’t!! We can just declare Unilateral Free Trade with whoever we like.The only people in this country who benefit from tariffs are a few vested interests here and on the continent (mostly on the continent) who can’t compete, or like to charge higher prices. All the rest of us lose out.

    Our only interest in this border is whether non Irish migrants come over it. And only then if it turns out that VAST numbers are using Ireland as conduit to get into the UK.

    A few illegal migrants doesn’t matter very much. They won’t be able to claim Tax Credits, Housing (or any other), Benefits. They won’t have have legal protection to get the Minimum Wage, or use schools or the NHS anyway, because if they came forward to try, they’d get deported.

    A Hard Border imposed by the EU will be catastrophic for the ROI. Any damage caused to Northern Ireland is easily dealt with by the UK giving all sorts of business tax concessions to businesses located there.

    If we wanted to, we could abolish Corporation Tax, Business Rates, and Employers NIC in Northern Ireland, and cut Petrol Duty there to make petrol much cheaper in Northern Ireland than it is in the Republic.

    If we really wanted to retaliate, we could also impose a heavy tax on lorries coming into the Welsh Ports from the Republic. The UK is ROI’s main route through to the rest of the EU.

    In any case if they don’t arrive at deal we’re satisfied with, they won’t be getting their £37 Billion ‘Divorce Settlement’ either.

    The EU is on to a loser with all these threats. We have all the Cards. It’s they that need this ‘deal’ not us. When we’ve left the Protectionist Customs Union we can just declare Unilateral Free Trade with the whole world.

    If the EU imposes maximum WTO permitted tariffs on the goods we sell to them that’s their problem. We have a floating Exchange Rate, so our Pound will just fall a bit to cancel them out, and they’ll find it harder to sell things here

    1. Helen Smith
      April 22, 2018

      I feel it very unlikely illegal migrants will come via the ROI. They have to get there from France in the first place and I’m sure it is a darn sight easier to get from Calais to Dover so that will remain the route of choice.

  46. Lindsay Jenkins
    April 22, 2018

    Not the civil service’s fault if the Government goes for a customs union – Mrs May is the overall policy maker and she is edging towards a customs union. In which case she is toast and so is the Conservative Party. Have you written your letter to Brady yet?

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