The Irish border

Attitudes to the Irish border sum up the differences between Leave and Remain.

To Leave there is no problem. The current Irish border is a complex international border, handled with the minimum of fuss.It is a Vat, Excise and currency border. These fiscal and financial requirements are handled away from the border, mostly electronically.If there are to be customs we could do the same with those.

It is a border requiring co-operation against smuggling, which already occurs. It is an anti terrorist border, without the need for border posts. There is action by police on both sides of the border to combat crime. We have a common travel area to ease the movement of people, which will continue after Brexit.

It will become a border for issues of quality and compliance for food and goods.As both sides currently meet the same standards and wish to do so after Brexit to sell to each other, we can continue with compliance checks away from the border with electronic manifests detailing what is on a truck and where it has been or will be tested.

To Remain it is a series of insoluble problems that require Northern Ireland to stay in the single market and customs union. To the Republic of Ireland and the EU it is an opportunity to advance the island of Ireland agenda for government of all matters commercial. They query a series of detailed and sensible proposals using existing technolgy and practices to avoid a more intrusive police and government presence at the border.

The UK government should repeat that after Brexit it will not impose watch towers and an army of inspectors on the border.It will use existing technology and practises to collect revenue and check goods, and will continue full co-operation with the Republic as now. The Republic can then work with the EU to decide how best to run their side of the border, knowing the UK will be helpful and positive about ensuring a smooth outcome.

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  1. Ian wragg
    Posted February 9, 2019 at 6:11 am | Permalink

    Yesterday The Brexit Party was formally recognised. Now we 17.4 million voters have a Home if May betrays us.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 9, 2019 at 7:03 am | Permalink

      As May clearly intends. The Brexit and UKIP parties (in a FPTP electoral system) will however just spit the Tory vote and give us even worse government.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted February 9, 2019 at 8:50 am | Permalink

        It might, hopefully, encourage this appalling government to do the right thing for once, just leave in March and negotiate trade and other deals in our mutual interests later. Without putting ourselves into a May deal negotiation straight jacket. Also while keeping the leaving fee until we get something of value for it.

      • JoolsB
        Posted February 9, 2019 at 9:03 am | Permalink

        “The Brexit and UKIP parties (in a FPTP electoral system) will however just spit the Tory vote ”

        I agree Lifelogic but maybe we should take a leap of faith and vote for the true Conservative party, something the current bunch masquerading as Conservatives are anything but.

        • L Jones
          Posted February 9, 2019 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

          That’s what they’re banking on, Jools – a leap of faith. People aren’t really easy about changing their allegiance. They want to think that the people in whom they put their faith are honourable will STILL prove themselves when push comes to shove. But hope is fading.

          But if the ‘right’ people (and we know now who they are) decamp to a new party, then that new party could be our new Conservative Party – the one we always believed in – no matter what its new name is.

          Perhaps it won’t ”split the vote”. It depends how committed to an ideal that our people are who want the best for our country. We MUST escape the clutches of the EU – and AFTERWARDS people can squabble about who means what, who should be trusted, who said what and when – then let the EU people come to US with some good ideas. I’m sure they’re capable of it – no matter how they present themselves at this crucial time in their existence.

          • rose
            Posted February 9, 2019 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

            Why can’t people just vote for the best candidate as they used to once upon a time? With any luck this new party and UKIP won’t be foolish enough to put up against Brexiteers, only saboteurs. A good way to get a Brexit parliament.

          • acorn
            Posted February 10, 2019 at 9:16 am | Permalink

            Talking of trust and why the EU is not prepared to trust UK promises; to not send horse meat labelled as Aberdeen Angus prime beef into the EU Single Market.

            UK citizens don’t even trust each other, so why should the EU.

            The UK has more surveillance CCTV per square mile than any other country on the planet. ANPR cameras make on average one million miss identifications every day.

          • rose
            Posted February 10, 2019 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

            I thought it was the EU which sent mislabelled horsemeat to us.

            We have an ancient cultural taboo on eating horses.

      • Iago
        Posted February 9, 2019 at 11:19 am | Permalink

        The Electoral Commission has recognised this new party with breathtaking speed. The intention is to split the Ukip vote.

        • Anonymous
          Posted February 9, 2019 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

          Nope. Farage is back. Yay !

          • Richard
            Posted February 9, 2019 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

            Classic far right extremist tactics. Resign, reappear later denouncing previous movement as being too extreme thereby appearing to be more moderate whilst still having same divisive noxious views.

            It’s all about shifting the Overton window.

          • Edward2
            Posted February 11, 2019 at 1:06 am | Permalink

            Classic extreme left tactics too.
            Not that you would realse.

        • acorn
          Posted February 9, 2019 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

          The intention is to split the whole of the right wing vote into three factions not just the UKIP/BNP faction. The “blue rinse” faction and the Spiv City tethered (ERG62) faction, between them could make sure that under an FPTP election, none of them ever gets a majority in the HoC for at least the next three or four decades.

      • Helen Smith
        Posted February 9, 2019 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

        Don’t care, I vote Tory on the basis of their manifesto. They have manifestly ignored said manifesto so don’t deserve to govern for a long, long time. If Corbyn screws up the economy so be it.

        • Jack Bennett
          Posted February 9, 2019 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

          Yes Ian. Rejection at the ballot box is the only thing our political class fear. UKIP/Brexit Party must work together and choose between them which constituencies each other will fight and which constituenices with genuine Brexiteers they will not. I can only think of 20 or max 30 Conservative and Labour Party Brexiteers who should be given a free run at the next general election.

          • barbara Jell
            Posted February 10, 2019 at 2:36 am | Permalink

            Jack Bennett – the first common sense, realistic and logical comment – if we SERIOUSLY wish to challenge a corrupt and arrogant Government and the contemptible Remoaners and win, UKIP AND THE BREXIT PARTY MUST WORK TOGETHER – ARE YOU LISTENING NIGEL?!!

      • Mitchel
        Posted February 9, 2019 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

        As Venezuela is close to your heart,LL,there was a report by Sky News,one of the cheerleaders for the would be putschist,Guaido,from the barrios of Caracas this morning.The reporter seemed amazed to learn that,despite their empty fridges,the residents still supported their (incompetent but lawful)President over a gringo globalist puppet.

        A luta continua,vitoria e certa!

      • Al
        Posted February 9, 2019 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

        “The Brexit and UKIP parties (in a FPTP electoral system) will however just spit the Tory vote ”

        Possibly, Lifelogic, but I suspect that many of the people who will vote for them are most likely those who would not be voting Conservative (or at all) in the next election after the performance of this government. If a voter has already made up their mind not to vote for May or the Conservatives, then it is hardly splitting the Tory vote if they then vote for someone else – just giving a voice to a disillusioned electorate who otherwise would not have voted at all.

        Political parties don’t own a vote. If they want votes, they have to earn them.

      • Original Richard
        Posted February 9, 2019 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

        Maybe, but I can no longer vote for pro-EU candidates, whatever the outcome.

        To keep voting for pro-EU Conservative candidates and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity and if 17.4m voted this way we would have a totally different Parliament.

        My second resolve is to buy far less EU produced goods.

    • Peter VAN LEEUWEN
      Posted February 9, 2019 at 7:33 am | Permalink

      @Ian wragg: Contrary to UK elections, European elections are fair (i.e. proportional). Few Europeans would welcome another large anti-EU shout club in their parliament. An extra imputous to have the UK leave on the 29th of March.

      • mickc
        Posted February 9, 2019 at 9:29 am | Permalink

        Yes please!

      • stred
        Posted February 9, 2019 at 10:41 am | Permalink

        Yes Peter, They prefer May’s capitulation. No Farage but still paying, taking orders for trade and the new army and unable to change anything without permission, for ever. You have no idea about the bitterness that this will create. Europe will no longer be considered a friendly country. Democracy will be dead and other means will be found.

        • L Jones
          Posted February 9, 2019 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

          And how sad is that, that ”Europe” should be considered a ”country” in any sense?
          I know what you mean, Stred, but your comment shows that all these countries have lost (or will soon lose) their identities and have become subsumed in the EU idea of what we should become.
          What is it that anyone can read above the EU Parliament’s Visitors’ Centre: “National sovereignty is the root cause of the most crying evils of our time and of the steady march of humanity back to tragic disaster and barbarism…” How dare they? How very dare they?

          WHY oh why do people STILL believe in this sinister ‘organisation’?

        • Peter VAN LEEUWEN
          Posted February 9, 2019 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

          @stred: I don’t see any “new army”, just enhanced military cooperation. Mind you, already for years we have German soldors serving under Dutch command and vice versa and also with some other countries.
          “Taking orders for trade and unable to change anything without permission” ??? Why do you make yourself belief in such obvious untruths? Isn’t it better you leave tomorrow? Nobody is stopping you.

          • Al
            Posted February 10, 2019 at 9:35 am | Permalink

            **Isn’t it better you leave tomorrow? Nobody is stopping you.**

            Peter, I think the majority of people here would agree with you that leaving tomorrow, or even today, would be better. Sadly the person stopping us seems to be Teresa May, with the support of a faction of our own government.

          • Stred
            Posted February 10, 2019 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

            Peter, An army under central command of the EU High Unrepresentative and generals chosen by her is an EU army. Holland is going to be a region. EU North West lowlands.

    • teaboy
      Posted February 9, 2019 at 8:13 am | Permalink

      Ian wragg- I believe it’s too late now for Farage and the UKIPs, they had their chance but messed up, as did the ERG- and just as Tusk said- because nobody even bothered to sketch out a plan – chancers and charlatans all!

      • Mike Wilson
        Posted February 9, 2019 at 9:11 am | Permalink

        How can you ‘sketch out a plan’ when the EU REFUSES to talk about the FUTURE until AFTER we have left! Give me strength!

      • mickc
        Posted February 9, 2019 at 9:33 am | Permalink

        But the biggest chancer was Cameron in not allowing preparations for leaving prior to the Referendum….

        • Nicholas Odoni
          Posted February 9, 2019 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

          Cameron has a lot to answer for, including deserting the ship after he lost the vote. A harsh word, but I think ‘coward’ is apposite.

          And of course, he was aided by that Osborne bloke, bless him. I think the correct words to describe him are rather worse than ‘coward’, and probably not printable on this comments site.

          • Lifelogic
            Posted February 9, 2019 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

            Totally pathetic and gross criminal negligence are the words I would use of “abandon ship” Cameron. Unlike John Major and Appeaser May he does not even have the excuse of total vacuity.

          • rose
            Posted February 9, 2019 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

            Cameron should of course have stayed, and appointed a Brexit cabinet and government, but could he have been grown up enough emotionally to have swapped Mr Osborne for Mr Redwood? I fear not and that may be why he resigned. He could have got over not having prepared, and he could have got over being on the wrong side, but he couldn’t have dispensed with his best political friend.

      • stred
        Posted February 9, 2019 at 10:34 am | Permalink

        May ignored the plans of the Leave side and listened to the civil service instead. She ignores every plan put before her and refuses to publish anything to assist WTO. She is determined to stay in the EU by other means. She works on Teaboy’s side. Probably a teaboy working for the People’s Vote team financed by big international business and globalists.

        • Lorna
          Posted February 9, 2019 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

          That is a basic misconception.May had her own plan and tried to get it through by lies and camouflage of her true plans .To keep U.K. in the Customs Union and single market
          The current WA is just the precursor to a permanent customs union as Sabine Weyland the negotiator made clear
          That was clear when she refused to consider a FTA ,and when she appointed Ollie and sidelined the entire DExU ,
          Suella Braverman confirmed that the Treasury instructed
          Civil servants not to assist in looking at other viable alternatives to the backstop
          The PM lies constantly by her assertions the WA will,allow U.K. to,continue making international trade deals This untruth was repeated by Liddington although Trade
          Negotiators from Australia US ,and GATT and our own academics and lawyers have stated it will prevent countries from agreeing trade deals
          This whole affair will,be seen in history as the most shameful deception of the electorate in our history
          The big question is why did the Cabinet and intelligent MPs collude with the PM?
          She continued to repeat we are leaving the CU we are leaving the S.M.we will not be under the jurisdiction of the E.U. courts ! Fully aware that the WA did no such thing .A lie !
          A high level,investigation is required if the public are to recover any faith in our democracy !
          This WA is bad for the U.K. and the PM must take full responsibility fir her treachery to satisfy Nissan and her friends at the expense of our sovereignty ! The cat is out the bag ! Who will heal the wounds ?

          • rose
            Posted February 9, 2019 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

            Bill Cash appears to be conducting an inquiry with the European Scrutiny Committee.

      • Ian wragg
        Posted February 9, 2019 at 10:57 am | Permalink

        Absolute rubbish. There was and is a plan only having Quisling May in charge actively trying to thwart Brexit.
        Even last week she lied about the backstop, reneging on promises to re negotiate it. She is still plugging away with the corpse of the WA when she should be offering the EU a comprehensive FTA putting the ball firmly in their court.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted February 9, 2019 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

          Indeed, yet 200 dopes still have confidence in her it seems.

      • L Jones
        Posted February 9, 2019 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

        How do we know what ‘plans’ may have been ‘sketched out’? The MSM only report what they think is headline-grabbing and anyone who wants to know more has to dig deep elsewhere.
        Of course there are many people at work behind the scenes that the MSM don’t think are worthy of reporting – and who our ”leaders” would wish to silence. It is so easy now to sideline those whose opinions they don’t like. Especially if they have power and money.
        I’m becoming a conspiracy theorist. But I never used to be.

    • Alan Joyce
      Posted February 9, 2019 at 9:24 am | Permalink

      Dear Mr. Redwood,

      It is still impossible to tell how Brexit is going to turn out. The PM is just too cowardly and secretive for that. The UK will leave the EU; that much is certain but, of course, the question is how.

      Fortunately, we now have the new Brexit party where those of us who are dissatisfied with how the Conservative leadership have handled Brexit can deposit our votes.

      It should help focus minds somewhat.

      • roger
        Posted February 9, 2019 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

        And the first opportunity to do so should we not leave on time will be to send a full complement of Farage MEP’s to Brussels, and thereby make four years of acute disruption in the EU Parliament as payback for the shameful and disrespectful treatment of our envoys over the past three years.

        • rose
          Posted February 9, 2019 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

          I suspect Treason and her friends in Brussels will stitch together some formula for avoiding elections while yet staying under the yoke.

    • Captain Peacock
      Posted February 9, 2019 at 9:58 am | Permalink

      She will betray Brexit even if it means destroying the Tory party yet they don’t see it.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted February 9, 2019 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

        That is exactly what I expect. So how should I place some bets and at least make some money out of her total stupidity?

    • Caterpillar
      Posted February 9, 2019 at 10:05 am | Permalink

      Ian, in some ways the best thing for Brexit would be a delay long enough for uk to field candidates in May’s elections. This would remind the Govt of what it should be doing. To avoid this May will side with Labour (anyone) to get her non-withdrawing WA agreement through. How long it takes for the anger to fester and blow up from this is anyone’s guess. A party to vote for under an FTP system may be a safety valve for a short while, but as it won’t gain power it won’t last. The on going threat from ignoring the referendum result is far more dangerous (in the long run) than the Irish border.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted February 9, 2019 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

      Dear Ian–As someone who thinks the less of Sir John for not having left the wretched Tories and joining UKIP at that crucial time, which could well have been a game-changer, I can only hope he will do better next time and, of course only if the then situation warrants, join The Brexit Party. Godspeed to Nigel Farage.

    • Simon Coleman
      Posted February 9, 2019 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

      You’ve already been betrayed – by Johnson, Fox, Gove, Mogg and the others. They promised: deep access to the Single Market on leaving; that the necessary continuity trade deals with other countries would all be done by now; that No deal would result in no disruption; that all those extra millions for the NHS would certainly materialise…and that we’d be better off as a nation. With just weeks to go to Brexit day, if it isn’t obvious by now that we are certainly heading for a more prosperous future, then you can bet your life that we’re not. You Leavers have just been hiding behind May’s incompetence. Mr Redwood’s complacency is a joke – he hasn’t a clue how No deal or the Irish border will work out. Nobody does.

      • Leslie Singleton
        Posted February 9, 2019 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

        Dear Simon–And nobody cares because we just want our country back and, whilst we realise there will be short term problems, we also very much realise that the long term is what counts and our views on that are rock-solid positive. Your perception cannot be that great because you appear not to have picked up in your rudeness that JR has been knighted.

      • rose
        Posted February 9, 2019 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

        They promised no such thing. They made suggestions. The remainers then hijacked Brexit. It is those anti democrats who have betrayed us.

  2. Andy
    Posted February 9, 2019 at 6:48 am | Permalink

    You are right. The Irish border does show the different between remain and leave.

    The first bases its argument on fact. The second on fantasy.

    The kind of border you argue for does not exist anywhere in the world. Not between the US and Canada. Not between Switzerland and the EU. Not between Norway and Sweden. All of them are good, efficient borders – and as your Brexit will require a border it is better we end up with one at this end of the scale rather the one like between South and North Korea. But they all have border checks for goods and people.

    The technology that some of you argue for does not exist. It may exist one day but it does not exist now. Customs experts say what you demand can not be done. Certainly not by March 29 and probably not by the end of the transition. Of course there will only be a transition if a deal is agreed.

    So you are still left needing an actual solution. Not hot air. A real life working solution.

    You have a further problem. Leave campaigners said you would take back control of our borders. You are now wanting to leave our only land border completely open. This is incompatible with your promise in 2016. You can not take back control of our borders and then argue that we should not have a border at our only land boundary. You also said you would cut EU red tape. Yet you are now quite happily talking about filling in all sort as of new electronic forms to send stuff to Ireland. This is the exact opposite of what Vote Leave promised.

    In other words you are unable to come up with a solution which a) exists b) fulfils the promises you made in 2016 and c) is better, easier and cheaper than the solution we have now.

    Brexiteers have not just failed Mr Redwood. They have had a spectacular failure. And the world can see it.

    • Richard1
      Posted February 9, 2019 at 7:41 am | Permalink

      You have clearly not visited either the Swiss-French border nor the Norwegian-Swedish one. In both cases there are plenty of crossings with no checks or infrastructure at all. Even at the main commercial crossings it’s minimal- about the same as a French péage. You are just making stuff up, illustrating Sir John’s point.

      • Richard1
        Posted February 9, 2019 at 8:18 am | Permalink

        The point is the UK-Irish border has established such controls as are needed without the need for infrastructure at the border. If there also need to be customs collected – which there won’t be if there’s an FTA – or regulatory checks, of course they can also be done away from the border.

      • acorn
        Posted February 9, 2019 at 9:58 am | Permalink

        Rory Cellan-Jones BBC Technology correspondent (paraphrased by me).

        Kristen Hoiberget who runs the customs operation at Svinesund, one of a dozen border crossings that freight companies are allowed to use. He says the average waiting time is eight minutes. At 3pm, a big crowd of drivers has built up. They take a ticket and wait to hand over their documents. A Swedish trucker grumbles to me that it can take an hour and a half, and he is unimpressed with the level of customer service.

        There has been a major investment in technology to make things run more smoothly. That includes IT systems allowing goods to be declared to customs before they leave the warehouse, and a sophisticated communications network – Nordnet – that allows the 1,300 customs officials to co-ordinate the policing of such a long border. There are strict controls on movement of food and agricultural products across the border.

      • Rien Huizer
        Posted February 9, 2019 at 10:26 am | Permalink

        @ Richard1

        I have no idea how often you pass through the Swiss-German border and how. There is a full range of controls, although those controls are obviously not of the “work to rule” type. And the Swiss-EU border is regulated by treaties, it is not a typical third country one. Although traffic floows realtively freely, lorries usually spend some 15 minutes at the crossing near Basel.

        The example to look at (a typical third country border) is the Polish/Russian border crossing at Grzechlotki on the road from Gdansk (or Dantzig to Koeningsberg as our grand parents would have called it when it was still German) to Kaliningrad. Transit time there tends to be measured in hours. Also, there are very few crossings between Kaliningrad Oblast (a Russian enclave on the Baltic Sea between Poland, Lituania and Belarus. Of course Kaliningrad is a virtual military establishment so security, immigration and trade are mixed, but I guess the way to go in case of a no deal would be a few (3-4) crossings (at least one near Derry) plus locking as many as possible of the hundreds of small crossings . The EU must avoid having different types of land borders with third countries. I am sure Ireland will receive generous compensation from other EU members and in the case of a no-deal, that border must be similar to the one at Grzechlotki…

        I meant this as a joke, but maybe it is not.

        • Mitchel
          Posted February 9, 2019 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

          Kaliningrad-it’s an exclave not an enclave!And they have just cut the gas pipeline at the border with Lithuania(having installed LNG delivery & storage facilities for direct supply from the Motherland)depriving the latter of transit fees.

      • hans christian ivers
        Posted February 9, 2019 at 11:48 am | Permalink

        Richard 1

        Actually the Swedish Norwegian border has checks for trucks so Andy is not making anything up

        • Edward2
          Posted February 9, 2019 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

          Trucks can get checked moving across EU borders too.
          Recently watched French officials checking lorries in Calais.

          • hefner
            Posted February 9, 2019 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

            Indeed, no surprise here, checking for potential illegal immigrants, as they should be doing.

          • Edward2
            Posted February 9, 2019 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

            It was mainly checking contents of the vehicles versus paperwork on a random basis.

          • Stred
            Posted February 10, 2019 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

            They have an hour while waiting to board the ferry or train.

      • John Barleycorn
        Posted February 9, 2019 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

        There are strict checks for goods on the Swiss/EU border. If you drive down the autobahn from Germany into Basel during the week, you will see a queue of lorries a few miles long waiting to go through. There are only limited crossing points for freight. Cars are often pulled over too. Other crossings are open to non-freight but usually with video surveillance and occasional checks which cause tailbacks on the local roads. You can find this info on the Swiss customs web site.

        I’m less familiar with the EU/Sweden border, but I believe it is similar, with the additional advantage that Customs officers are allowed to operate in each other’s countries.

        A similar deal could work in Ireland, with some infrastructure, recognition that customs officials could operate cross border and mobile check points. It’ll take a couple of years to set up, and I’m not sure these would be acceptable to hard-line nationalists or unionists.

      • Andy
        Posted February 9, 2019 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

        Perhaps such a border exists between Cloudcuckooland and Narnia. But there is not one in the real world. And this is the view of every customs expert in the world.

        You cite the Swiss border – one I know well. And I can assure you there is infrastructure. There are guards. There are customs checks for goods.
        And there are delays for lorries at all the main crossings. You, correctly, say there are no borders at all along some of the mountain crossings. This is true. But this is because they are not routes for goods – they are routes for people and Switzerland is in Schengen. It does not check people.

        You want to check people and goods. It is what Vote Leave promised in 2016. Your mandate – if you have one – is for a hard border. That was the will of the people. You can not take back control of a border without having a border. I know this is mightily inconvenient and frustrating for you but you claim you knew what you were voting for. Apparently you did not.

        It is evident that Brexiteers are clinging to the hope that there can be some sort of Schrodinger’s border which simultaneously exists and does not exist. The rest of the world knows you are being foolish.

        • Richard1
          Posted February 9, 2019 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

          You have no idea how I voted in the referendum nor my motivations. You give no response as to why the UK-Irish border, which currently operates seemlessly despite the need to collect excise duties, control smuggling etc, should not do so equally well should the EU decide to start a trade war and impose customs (which is unlikely).

      • graham1946
        Posted February 9, 2019 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

        The Norway Sweden border is apparently about 70 percent ‘smart border’ and has been tested to 100 percent, but the EU don’t want it and prefer the system invented 40 years ago – about right for these backwoodsmen.

        This is according to Mr Lars Carlsonn, ex director of Swedish Customs and inventor of the Norway Sweden border system.

        • graham1946
          Posted February 9, 2019 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

          See my further entry about this further down.

        • Stred
          Posted February 10, 2019 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

          They are looking for booze. Both countries are run by teetotaler Puritans and have hooch distilleries.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted February 9, 2019 at 7:53 am | Permalink

      “The kind of border you argue for does not exist anywhere in the world.”

      Even if that was true then it would hardly show your beloved EU up in a good light if it could only ever do what had already been done elsewhere in the world.

      And it is not true, because as pointed out here and in other places there is an open border for goods between Switzerland and Liechtenstein which relies upon law, and not technology, for its accommodation of differing product standards.

      As the SNP and the Scottish government are well aware, and Theresa May should also be well aware because it has been directly brought to her attention:

      “Now MPs have rejected her EU ‘deal’ Prime Minister Theresa May has invited opposition parties to suggest ways forward.

      This prompted me to wonder whether she asked the SNP contingent to brief her on the principle of “parallel marketability”, which their party mooted as a possible route to maintaining Scotland’s free trade with both the EU and the rest of the UK.

      From paragraph 152 in the Scottish government document “Scotland’s Place in Europe” … ”

      I could also highlight this claim on the EU’s own website:

      “The European Union is a unique economic and political union … ”

      and ask why this unique organisation is incapable of devising a unique solution to the relatively minor, largely fabricated, problem of the Irish land border.

      When it was proposed that this union of sovereign states should be treated as a single market with no controls at its internal, yet still international, borders – the legal change which finally made it possible to remove all routine checks on goods crossing the Irish land border in both directions – did nobody object that this had never been done before, and therefore could not be done now?

      • acorn
        Posted February 9, 2019 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

        Switzerland and Liechtenstein formed a Customs Union (CU) in the last century. Both are now members of Schengen. They also formed a Currency Union on the Swiss Franc. Guess what! The Switzerland and Liechtenstein Customs Union works exactly the same as the EU Customs Union.

        The CU was adapted to allow Liechtenstein to join the EEA and allow “parallel marketability” in Liechtenstein of products meeting the non-EEA Swiss standards. Free movement of products in the EEA is limited to products which conform to the EEA acquis, not just the Swiss acquis.

        Parallel marketability works fine in a rich microstate that is smaller than six English Parishes; and, more than doubles its population in working hours!

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted February 9, 2019 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

          Nevertheless there is an example of an open border with differences in product standards between the two sides being accommodated by laws to prohibit the passage of non-compliant goods across the border, not by laws to impose regulatory alignment on the whole of both territories as with the EU’s single market ideology; moreover an example that UK civil servants were studying as long ago as last May, when it was said to be “a very interesting idea”:

          So why have we heard nothing since then?

          • acorn
            Posted February 9, 2019 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

            “… laws to prohibit the passage of non-compliant goods across the border, not by laws to impose regulatory alignment …”

            Sorry Denis, you will have to explain to me, what the difference is between those two.

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted February 10, 2019 at 8:34 am | Permalink

            The difference is very simple and I am genuinely surprised that you are having difficulty understanding it.

            It is the norm among trading nations throughout the world that goods imported into a country must conform to that country’s legal requirements. The EU Single Market ideology goes beyond that and insists that the same legal requirements must apply to all the goods in circulation within both of the countries. Of course there would be a bit of a problem if the EU decided to extend its ideology to all its trading partners when they have conflicting legal requirements.

      • Tad Davison
        Posted February 9, 2019 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

        You’re talking to a brick wall Denis, and one that is particularly thick. I do wonder though if he really believes all the guff he comes out with, or if he’s one of the paid-up flag-waving EU eccentrics who stand outside parliament shouting for a lost cause?


        • Denis Cooper
          Posted February 9, 2019 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

          Certainly one who is always very keen to disallow the working example of the Switzerland-Liechtenstein open border, for this reason or that; and I wonder why that should be?

    • Edward2
      Posted February 9, 2019 at 8:35 am | Permalink

      But it is not “completely open” now.
      Despite EU membership there are different tax and excise rates.
      There is even a TV programme showing the work of customs officers in the South checking travellers coming into airports and stopping vehicles coming along main roads into the South.
      Most border work is intelligence led.
      Where are the queues of vehicles and huge delays for people at these “hard borders” in countries who are not in the EU?
      Technology does exist.
      It operates now all over the world.
      Number plates are scanned
      Travellers pre scan their passports
      Airlines get you to pre board entering your details on line days before you fly.
      Haulage and logistic companies fill in electronoc manifest lists.
      Then there are schemes like TIR
      It is all a deliberate attempt by remain fanatics to try to remain in the EU.
      Just admit it andy.

      • bigneil
        Posted February 9, 2019 at 11:47 am | Permalink

        All that technology – – and people just get in rubber dinghies, cross one of the busiest waterways on the planet – and arrive here unseen, to get rewarded with free lives till they drop.

      • Tad Davison
        Posted February 9, 2019 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

        My youngest daughter went to Dublin late last year for a mini-break (not that I ever would. Even though I am of largely Irish extraction, I would boycott all goods from south of the border and have nothing whatsoever to do with them). She had to show her passport several times, so there are checks on arrivals from the UK already and nobody says a word.

        This border issue is just another confected manufactured problem. If a problem can be created by man, it can be solved by man. I suspect the real reason it is such an issue is that nice Mr Leo Varadkar is already casting his gaze towards an EU commissioner’s chair as a reward for his loyalty to them for being so intransigent towards the UK. How these people look after their own interests first is astounding!

        I can’t wait to claw our way out of the corrupt lop-sided cesspit and stop pouring money into it. Oh if only we had a leader who wasn’t an embarrasment and an international disgrace! One who will stand up to these over-blown sock puppets. But a limp lettuce never will be able to stiffen the sinews and summon up the blood!

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 9, 2019 at 9:08 am | Permalink

      The technology does not exist! Nonsense.

      We can decode the human genome, do heart and lung transplants, cure many cancers, make computers for under £10, yet we cannot fill a few forms in on line and have a system of fines and a few random checks at departure and destination? What planet are you on mate?

    • Anonymous
      Posted February 9, 2019 at 9:16 am | Permalink

      After the Referendum, a remain voting PM took over and decided the red lines- unicorn ones at that. Many of the leavers suggested a Canada+ deal, which the EU offered. But no, May went for a bespoke BINO deal that would be very hard to negotiate – the Leaver’s slowly left her cabinet in protest and she ignored them. Right up until she lost the key votes in Parliament that are pushing us to crazy no-deal position.

      • Anonymous
        Posted February 9, 2019 at 9:26 am | Permalink

        “You are now wanting to leave our only land border completely open.”

        Which nearly all borders are. I have a photo of me stood in France and Spain at the same time in a forest on the way to a hiking trip in the Pyrenees mountains.

        What changes are the legal entitlements of people who cross into a non EU country whose courts and parliament are no longer transcended by the ECJ and the EU Commission.

        I trust the British people to be fair on immigration and you clearly don’t, Andy.

      • Tad Davison
        Posted February 9, 2019 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

        But with respect Anon, a WTO deal is not the same as the ‘no deal’ scare story put about by remainers. They talk of three million job losses if we have no deal, a description designed wholly and deliberately to frighten people. But they never seem to make it clear we’ll still be able to trade with the EU on WTO terms.

        We would prefer a trade deal that keeps things more or less how they are, but the EU’s tired old intransigent dinosaurs in grey suits won’t have it. They want to claw more and yet more power to the centre. They care not that a decent trade deal with the UK would benefit their goods as well as ours. They’re just control freaks who want it all their own way. And when we pick it apart, this fantastic EU club isn’t really all that great. Despite the scare stories, the British people know this and voted to leave.

        I wish our leader had the guts to tell them to get stuffed and walk away. Theresa May makes me cringe every time I see her. Let’s hope the Tory party can re-invent itself and be rid of her kind once and for all. The new Brexit party is mighty tempting.

    • Pud
      Posted February 9, 2019 at 9:42 am | Permalink

      Imagine a world in which neither the UK nor Eire were in the EU and Eire wished to join. In this alternative reality are we really expected to believe that the Republic would not be allowed to join the EU because of the border?
      Back in the real world, both HMRC and the Republic’s equivalent say there are no significant issues with the border once the UK leaves the EU.

    • stred
      Posted February 9, 2019 at 10:27 am | Permalink
      Para 5 refers to facilitating free passage for 3rd party countries with a border with the EU. Reference is made to ‘smart’ border controls.

      The head of HMRC told the HoC committee that they would be ready with a smart border. The Irish customs were going ahead with a smart border but were stopped by Vardakar. The ERG employed a Dutch customs expert to confirm that it could be done. It is done on borders with other countries. Visa free travel has been agreed.

      But May needs the Irish and EU to insist that it doesn’t work. They are worried about US chickens washed with swimming pool water and probably the Irish hoovering with full powered Henrys. And so most Tory and Labour MPs will agree and vote for the whole UK to stay under all EU control and law into perpetuity.

      As Junker said, sometimes you have to lie. They are worried about a WTO exit and the liars are lined up to lie and lie and lie.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted February 10, 2019 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

        “But May needs the Irish and EU to insist that it doesn’t work.”

        Correct. I have to admit that this only dawned on me about six months ago, when I read praise of her Chequers proposal from a business lobbyist and it suddenly clicked in my mind that her stubborn refusal to consider any easy alternative solution arose from her inspired decision to use the problem as a pretext to give the likes of the CBI what they wanted. Since when I have had another moment of insight when I realised that in all likelihood she and Leo Varadkar are colluding to achieve their shared aim of keeping the UK under large swathes of EU customs union and single market rules.

    • Jason
      Posted February 9, 2019 at 10:35 am | Permalink

      Some facts …

      The UK has chosen to leave the EU, and exercising the same rights, Ireland has chosen to remain.

      The UK has committed to no “hard border”.

      The EU has demanded that Northern Ireland stay in the EU (more or less) – and has told the UK that it must follow EU rules in perpetuity so that they don’t have to implement a hard border.

      Now, it is Ireland and the EU that are making unreasonable demands on the UK. The border issue on the Ireland side is the EUs problem to fix, not the UKs – we have already fixed the problem on our side with our commitments.

      The “backstop” is nothing more than an annexation of Northen Ireland – which may well be illegal.

      I hope that there is a special place in hell for those who are weaponising the Belfast Agreements.

    • graham1946
      Posted February 9, 2019 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

      Well Mr Customs Expert, Fact Free Andy, I suggest you have a look on the BBC 5 Live website and listen to a portion of the Emma Barnett on show on 6th Feb at about 1 hour 38 mins in.

      You will hear Mr Lars Carlsonn, former Director of Swedish Customs saying the system does exist and was trialed for 4 years, but the EU wanted to go back to the old system invented 40 years ago. It apparently can be done using phone masts etc.

      I am not going to go into it all now, it is there to be listened to, but I doubt you will bother as you are so far entrenched in EU ideology you don’t like facts.

      Sir John, did you know this and if not can you bring it to the attention of the Government as it seems to solve the Backstop problem

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted February 10, 2019 at 3:31 pm | Permalink
        • graham1946
          Posted February 11, 2019 at 11:04 am | Permalink

          Why are we being dictated to by a minnow like ROI?

          Without our purchases and land bridge to the EU they’d be broke in a couple of weeks.

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted February 11, 2019 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

            Because it provides Theresa May with a pretext to do what she in any case wants to do in order to placate the likes of the CBI.

  3. Lifelogic
    Posted February 9, 2019 at 7:00 am | Permalink

    Indeed and leave, as usual, are right.

    To the EU and most remainers is the back stop is merely an evil ruse (with a threat of violence behind it) to try to defeat the will of the public expressed very clearly in the referendum and in the last general election. There are perfectly acceptable solutions it is a none problem.

    The position of the EU is that they do not want the backstop yet they insist on it remaining. May’s deal, even without the backstop, is appalling. It would put the UK in an appalling position from which to negotiate. It is even worse than remain it is not Brexit at all.

    Tobias Elwood on Question Time was completely wrong on everything (just like Theresa May and Philip Hammond). The deal is a total betrayal of the leave voters. Not doing what the ERG suggests will split the Tories and give us Corbyn and a rapid trip to Venezuela. Why can these two hundred fools who actually voted that they had confidence in the appalling, disingenuous, socialist & electoral liability T May not see this?

    Just leave and negotiate from a position of strength over trade. The EU will in the end act in their own interests which is just fine for the UK.

  4. Peter VAN LEEUWEN
    Posted February 9, 2019 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    Peace for N. Ireland was less than an afterthought voor leave campaigners. Early Brexiteers assumed that Ireland would join Britain and leave the EU in favor of its great neighbour.
    A prominent Brexiteer like Nigel Farage even made that claim again a few weeks ago (28 January), ignoring the more than 88% of Irish who want to stay with the EU.
    Brexiteers have joined forces with the DUP, which was and probably still is against the N. Irish Good Friday agreement. If there ever was a sketch of a plan, it must have been that Ireland would join Britain by necessity.
    That is not going to happen.

    • agricola
      Posted February 9, 2019 at 7:58 am | Permalink

      The great fear in the minds of the EU is that their house of cards will unravel once the UK is seen to be successful when out. Look around the EU ,the signs are manifest. They will rumble on. They the EU will also miss the money. Bon voyage to totalitarianism, a state you yearned for and experimented with three times. Is it a coincidence that twice it was devised by corporals, both small.

      • Peter VAN LEEUWEN
        Posted February 9, 2019 at 11:50 am | Permalink

        If you take a little distance, you would see that the post WWII gradual demise of the British empire (1944 -1997) more or less concurred with the gradual building up of the EU (1952-2007). Would it not be more logical that both the demise (now unstable UK union) and the building up of the EU (be it limited to a few western Balkan countries), will continue?

        • agricola
          Posted February 9, 2019 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

          The demise of the Empire a nineteenth century entity transformed to the Commonwealth. A group of nations there because they choose to be, no compulsion, but fused by a common language and a similar standard of democracy. Any nation can leave or be told to if they offend democracy. The EU at present would not qualify.

          Incidentally the UK is not unstable. Should any part vote to leave they are free to do so. No takers so far.

          You are about to lose your 2nd or 3rd nett financial contributor, ask the Germans and French whether they wish to take on any more dependants.

          • Peter VAN LEEUWEN
            Posted February 9, 2019 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

            @agricola: The British empire was very much alive in the 20st century, countries didn’t join the empire voluntary at all, and some fought independence wars against you for their freedom. Unlike the EU in which every country joined voluntarily and can leave voluntarily.

            You might have noticed that the UK has been (and still is) mainly just negotiating with itself.

            I’m afraid you very much overestimate your UK contribution. We did well before you turned up, and will most likely continue to do well after you’ll have left.

        • A.Sedgwick
          Posted February 9, 2019 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

          The British Empire made a massive contribution to freeing the original Six and it has peacefully, voluntarily morphed into the Commonwealth, which our misguided PMs forsook for the EU politburo.

          Many of us who had relatives who fought in WW1 and 2 are appalled by the EU’s attitude. President Trump had it right – NATO is obsolete.

          It will be interesting to see if Eire joins the EU army.

      • margaret howard
        Posted February 9, 2019 at 1:19 pm | Permalink


        “The great fear in the minds of the EU is that their house of cards will unravel once the UK is seen to be successful when out.”

        As successful as we were before?

        The ‘Sick man of Europe’ on the verge of collapse before we joined the European community

        Industry was collapsing, interest rates were spiralling and inflation was rampant.

        You obviously can’t remember the food, fuel and power shortages of the Heath government or the steadily growing balance of payments deficit.

        The common market had to pump in 25% of its regional development funds to stabilise the nation, the highest ever figure.

        We have since steered this country towards a services/financial industry to the detriment of the old manufacturing industry so there is only so much the rest of the world can trade with us. How many people will be employed by the financial centres in London? This may work for Switzerland with a population of under 9m, not for a country of over 65m people.

        • Edward2
          Posted February 9, 2019 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

          The 25% you keep stating was one year in over 40 years of membership.
          In every year bar one the UK has paid in far more than it has ever had out.

        • agricola
          Posted February 9, 2019 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

          I have lived through it all Margaret. On the personal positive side I saw the gaps in the industrial armour and was very successful in taking advantage of them. The industries that died in the UK were past their sell by date. Over unionised,under capitalised, and in most cases dreadfully managed. You have possibly not suffered the embarasment of conducting leading japanese industrialists around a strike bound Longbridge. At the time I was familiar with Nissan at Tochigi Fuji. The comparison was horrific.

          There is a lot of new industry in the Uk these days and given the right level of political leadership it will expand and thrive.

          In one sense I share your pessimism in that I do not see the present incumbents of the HoC or government having either the competence or experience to provide that level of leadership we require. As for the civil service, I would not pay most of them in washers.
          It makes me want to spit when I hear them pontificating on the Irish Border or international trade. Their ignorance is palpable.

          We need a much reduced in size Parliament. Compare the figures with the USA. We need individuals of achievement in it, not career politicians. It’s proceedures need drastic overhaul, have you seen the time they take to vote, unbelievable. We also need to remove from them control of their personal financial
          remuneration pensions and post ministerial trough activities. Put in the words of someone you no doubt hate,”We need to drain the swamp.”

          • Tad Davison
            Posted February 10, 2019 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

            Excellent response to a blinkered dyed-in-the-wool remainer who is highly selective with her points. They seem to want to air-brush history.


        • Steve
          Posted February 9, 2019 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

          Margaret Howard

          The EU will collapse without the UK – fact. (and reason for celebration of the century when it does happen.)

          • Peter VAN LEEUWEN
            Posted February 9, 2019 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

            @Steve: “fact” Misguided and unfounded speculation about the future has become “fact” today??

          • Tad Davison
            Posted February 10, 2019 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

            PVL your wall-to-wall enthusiasm for the EU might prove to be misplaced. Germany has benefited greatly from the EU whilst other nations have been devastated by it.

            The acid test would be if the German economy now shares the spoils of its ill-gotten gains and bails out the likes of Italy. One of the leading German banks has been in difficulties for a long time and has been over-extended. I doubt if the EU is quite the equitable equalitarian institution it’s supporters wish it to be. A good dose of reality would improve their outlook.


        • Steve
          Posted February 9, 2019 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

          Margaret Howard

          “We have since steered this country towards a services/financial industry to the detriment of the old manufacturing industry”

          ‘we’ did not do this, traitors did.

          ‘WE’ will hold them to account.

    • Richard1
      Posted February 9, 2019 at 8:22 am | Permalink

      Whether Ireland chooses to stay in the EU or not is up to the people of Ireland, likewise for the UK. What is clearly against the Good Friday Agreement is this attempt by the EU and the Irish Govt to change the status of NI without the consent of its people.

      • Steve
        Posted February 9, 2019 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

        Richard 1

        “whether Ireland chooses to stay in the EU or not is up to the people of Ireland”

        Exactly. Nothing to do with us. As indeed our sovereign affairs are nothing to do with that ambitious leprechaun they have bravely insulting our country from the safety of Barnier’s coat tails.

        ROI can rot as far as I’m concerned

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted February 9, 2019 at 8:24 am | Permalink

      One, the predominant, sketch of a plan for the Irish land border was that it could be a “light-touch” border like that between Norway and Sweden. That idea should have been laid to rest some time in late 2017, when it should have become clear to the UK government that the new Irish government was going to adopt an absurd, extreme and intransigent position over the border in an attempt to force the UK to remain under the rules of the EU Customs Union and the EU Single Market. A lot of time and energy has been wasted by various stupid people who did not even recognise that Norway is not in any customs union with the EU, and that the Irish government would clearly not accept the kind of border it has with the EU even as some kind of transitional arrangement. As I argued yesterday, “No plan survives first contact with the enemy”, and at that point the UK government should have abandoned its original proposal. Why did it not do so? Well, I saw Theresa May and Leo Varadkar meeting up for their dinner date yesterday evening and their body language was enough to convince me that the two have been colluding to achieve a shared objective, that publicly laid down by the Irish Commissioner Phil Hogan on November 26th 2017:

      “Brexit: Remain in customs union and single market to solve border issue, Ireland’s European commissioner tells May”

      • Peter VAN LEEUWEN
        Posted February 9, 2019 at 10:07 am | Permalink

        @Denis Cooper: From an Irish perspective I could see well their interest in a customs union. So far, they have played their cards rather well.
        But is it all that different from what leave advocates were thinking as well? Just look in youtube and search for:
        “Leave campaigners: let’s stay in the Single Market”
        It appears to me that your favored politicians have somewhat radicalised.
        Is such radicalisation not a sign of failing democracy?

        • Mitchel
          Posted February 9, 2019 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

          A whiff of Weimar?!

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted February 9, 2019 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

          There has been no radicalisation of those who said beforehand that we should free ourselves from the rules of both the EU Customs Union and the EU Single Market.

          • Steve
            Posted February 9, 2019 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

            Denis Cooper

            You speak for yourself Denis, many who voted leave are becoming radicalised.

            A reckoning is on the way.

    • Ian wragg
      Posted February 9, 2019 at 8:25 am | Permalink

      With no deal the Irish economy would tank. When this is all over Irelands position as an offshore tax reduction base will be ended by Brussels harmonies Corporations Tax.
      I bet within 5years they will be wanting to leave.
      So you’ve been resurrected for the final curtain. I would have thought that you would be busy batting for Brussels in Italy, France, Germany etc. There’s plenty to discuss there.

      • Steve
        Posted February 9, 2019 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

        Ian Wragg

        “With no deal the Irish economy would tank”

        GOOD !

        “I bet within 5years they will be wanting to leave.”

        And they’ll be expecting our support, but we will remember their insults and attempts to hold us over barrel, and give ’em the big F.

        Let them rot.

    • Edward2
      Posted February 9, 2019 at 8:43 am | Permalink

      It was “less than an afterthought” for remain supporters too.
      It has now been made a useful issue for remainers who want to stop the UK from actually leaving the EU.
      If you want a hard border Peter you need to ask yourself who is going to build it?

      • Peter VAN LEEUWEN
        Posted February 9, 2019 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

        @Edward2: the maintenance of peace and the current 250 invisible border crossings may have been more prominent in the minds of voters in N. Ireland, which mainly voted for remain after all.
        Likewise, but for different reasons, most Scottish people voted for remain.
        As the divorcing party, the UK has some extra responsibility to come up with a feasible solution for the “no-border”, even in an ‘No-deal” outcome in the negotiations with the EU.

        • Edward2
          Posted February 9, 2019 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

          But they are not seperate countries.
          Scotland recently voted to remain part of the UK.
          I maintain the border qyestion is a nonsense dreamt up by remain to frustrate leaving.
          If the UK and the republic of Ireland both dont want a border wall then who is going to build it?

          • margaret howard
            Posted February 9, 2019 at 5:06 pm | Permalink


            “Scotland recently voted to remain part of the UK.”

            That was before Brexit where they voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted February 9, 2019 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

          As the party which drove a majority of UK voters to want a divorce the EU has more responsibility to sort out problems which arise.

          • Edward2
            Posted February 9, 2019 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

            That is true but polls show no improvement in the SNPs popularity nor do the polls show any real change in the wish to become independent.

          • Peter VAN LEEUWEN
            Posted February 9, 2019 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

            @Denis Cooper: Logic turned upside down.

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted February 10, 2019 at 8:50 am | Permalink

            No, Peter, just the other side of the coin to the one that you will always choose to look at.

    • Adam
      Posted February 9, 2019 at 9:24 am | Permalink

      Peaceful life in Ireland is a choice for the Irish. People sharing accommodation on an island make choices about where they live & what value. Some groups enjoy living near the sea. Some like city life. Some want close access to airports. Each chooses according to the pros & cons their decisions cause.

      Many people enjoy TV. Some pay membership subscriptions to watch more. Others look elsewhere, join cycling clubs, visit historical buildings, play instruments, or engage in membership of thousands of varied group activities.

      Each sensible person making a choice accepts the rules governing it. Those who dislike the rules of a club tend to leave it. Why should any existing member of the EU club wish to declare war on a neighbour just because that club is less popular?

      Perhaps the EU is developing into a military organisation. That makes it less attractive, yet stimulates a need to to force members to remain as subscription payers. Those armchair generals who predict conflict need firmer rationale than the prospect of Great Britain & Northern Island living in harmony.

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted February 9, 2019 at 11:22 am | Permalink

      Thermis no peace in Ireland – it’s just ignore to pretend that Major collaborating with terrorists worked! There are 60 hard borders (30 high walls) in Ulster between the factions attempting to stop them killing each other to this day!
      Only a foreigner could have thought otherwise😂😂😂

    • Steve
      Posted February 9, 2019 at 5:31 pm | Permalink


      “If there ever was a sketch of a plan, it must have been that Ireland would join Britain by necessity”

      You’re correct Peter, that isn’t going to happen. They insulted our country and our PM, so we won’t want them anyway.

  5. Kenneth
    Posted February 9, 2019 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    Michel Barnier said on 23rd January 2019, in the event of “no deal”, “we will have to find an operational way of carrying out checks and controls without putting back in place a border”.

    This, of course, has weakened the Remain argument so much that the Remain media, e.g. BBC, Guardian, Sky etc have simply not reported it.

    • Rien Huizer
      Posted February 9, 2019 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

      @ Kenneth

      That is merely aspirational, not a commitment. It will be very difficult.

      • David Price
        Posted February 9, 2019 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

        Barnier made that statement in public to European media outlets which to an English speaker =is a clear and unambiguous declaration of taking responsibility by an EU official responsible for negotiations between the UK and the EU.

        Are you saying no-one can believe or put their trust in anything an EU official says?

    • Steve
      Posted February 9, 2019 at 5:25 pm | Permalink


      Barrier can go and do unto himself.

  6. agricola
    Posted February 9, 2019 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    The only problem is that the Backstop is a political construction of the EU’S own making ,constructed to give it control when any future trade deal is discussed. It has no reality in the mechanics of future trade as you have pointed out. Future trade may require different or additional information to be exchange, so what, it all goes back and forth by internet.

    I hope you get the opportunity to stand up in the HoC and explain to it’s largely ignorant or opportunistic membership the realities of international trade. Our existing WTO trade already works the same way. It is only to the ignorant that this backstop has any significance.

    • Timaction
      Posted February 9, 2019 at 10:12 am | Permalink

      ……………..Backstop is a political construction of the EU’S own making……….. No. Theresa and Olly have colluded with the Irish and EU to come up with this contrived problem to stop us leaving or BRINO!

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted February 9, 2019 at 10:56 am | Permalink

      It should be obvious that the Irish government would NEVER willingly agree to any future replacement for the present backstop which did not have a similar legal effect of keeping us subject to swathes of EU laws. This is not a problem which could be solved through our future relationship with the EU, as some airily claim, because the Irish government would have the power to veto any future relationship which freed us from the shackles of the backstop. Possibly the rest of the EU member states could and would apply enough pressure to force Ireland to give way, but it would be stupid to rely on that happening. And nor will the Irish agree to any time limit or sunset clause for the backstop, or to the UK having a unilateral escape clause; of course they won’t, if you want to have somebody permanently shackled you don’t agree to the shackles being fitted with a time lock so they will spring open after so long, nor do you agree to give your prisoner a key to his shackles. That is so obvious that it was very stupid to even suggest such things.

  7. Michael
    Posted February 9, 2019 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    Why did/does the PM agree that a backstop is essential. The PM is a big part of the problem.

    • Ian wragg
      Posted February 9, 2019 at 11:01 am | Permalink

      Because she wants us to remain under Brussels control. Do keep up.

  8. Mark B
    Posted February 9, 2019 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    Should we actually Leave the EU and, not sign the Withdrawal Agreement, what happens then regarding the border ? I think this is a good question to ask. Because if the Irish government and the EU do nothing then their bluff is called. But if they close the border they will have to man it as I am sure the UK government will not.

    So are we to see cars and lorries turned away at the border between NI and the RoI but, have both NI and RoI cars and lorries come through UK ports ?

    As the clock ticks down if I was the PM I would just simply wait it out. Because without the WA they cannot force the UK to do anything and that is exactly what I want. I want to live in a free, independent, sovereign nation.

    Finally. Let us not forget the borders of the EU are far and wide. They can be found in South America, North Africa and Scandinavia. All working perfectly normally without the need for a WA.

    The UK also has other borders with the EU – Cyprus and Gib’. No one here seems to be causing as much fuss.

    The real reason for all this is that the RoI is going to lose exclusive access to its biggest market. Out of the CU we will be able to buy goods and food a more competitive prices. In short, they will have to compete. The days of Treasure Island are coming to an end.

    • Caterpillar
      Posted February 9, 2019 at 9:37 am | Permalink

      Mark B,

      We will be able to buy products at lower prices of the UK reduces / removed tariffs…widely called.for, but no indication of it happening.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted February 9, 2019 at 10:35 am | Permalink

      But Theresa May has promised that she, personally, will stop the EU and the Irish government doing anything untoward on their side of the border.

      If like me you watched her giving her speech in Belfast on Tuesday you may have noticed the very heavy emphasis she put on the word “I” here:

      “Northern Ireland does not have to rely on the Irish Government or the European Union to prevent a return to borders of the past.

      The UK government will not let that happen. I will not let that happen.”

      One interpretation could be that she would lead raiding parties across the border to dismantle any new installations on the other side.

      While another, more likely, interpretation could be that she is prepared to give the EU absolutely anything that they want to prevent them putting in any such border installations – money, control over the UK economy, continued submission to the ECJ, whatever, they only have to name their price, their equivalent of the Viking’s Danegeld if you like, and she will make sure that they get it.

      When she should have just promised that we will make no changes at all on our side of the border – there will be no grim-faced British customs officers holding up the traffic, as in the widely reproduced and never rebutted nationalist propaganda photos, and then added something like this, from the article:

      “The Republic can then work with the EU to decide how best to run their side of the border, knowing the UK will be helpful and positive about ensuring a smooth outcome.”

      Which helpfulness could include passing and enforcing a new UK law to control what goods could be carried across the land border into the Republic, a new legal way to achieve a similar practical end for the border arrangements as the existing UK laws implementing the EU Single Market rules, but not a new UK law to keep the whole of the UK under those EU rules even after we have left the EU.

      • Original Richard
        Posted February 9, 2019 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

        “Yes”, we could bring in a law which made it illegal for any GB goods to enter Ireland via the land border between N.I. and Ireland.

        So only N.I. produced goods could cross this border and all GB goods destined for Ireland could be shipped directly into an Irish port, if they are not already.

        If the Irish also introduced a parallel law then only goods produced in Ireland would be crossing the border.

        As is normal, the importers on both sides of the border would be responsible for checking the imported goods were compliant with their SM, backed up by retail and trading standards checks.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted February 10, 2019 at 8:58 am | Permalink

          It would be a UK law to prohibit carriage across the land border into the Republic of any goods which the EU regards as unacceptable within its Single Market, irrespective of their origin. There could be agreed de minimus exemptions about small quantities for personal or family use, and cows crossing the border running through their field could also be exempted, the law would be aimed primarily at hauliers who need a permit to operate and who could be deprived of that permit.

  9. Dominic
    Posted February 9, 2019 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    I have family that live on the SW coast of Ireland. I know Ireland intimately and I spend time there. In my conservations with Irish people they find the actions and anti-UK pronouncements of their PM and government deeply depressing and highly inflammatory

    It is important to note that the Irish political class is despised across Ireland. They are viewed as corrupt and self-serving so their attempts to bate the British people should be seen as merely that, bating. A pathetic gesture by a pathetic political class.

    So we shouldn’t be surprised that the UK-EU border in Ireland is being used as part of a divide and conquer strategy by EU autocrats and Putin-Erdogan admirers that are Merkel and Macron

    It’s also important to note that there is nothing pro-EU politicians and commentators will not say to achieve their aims and that includes provoking unrest and even suggesting that leaving the EU will provoke a return to violence in Northern Ireland. These people are guttersnipes without moral substance.

    Democracy has spoken. 52% of those who cast their vote in 2016 voted to leave the EU. That wish must be carried out.

    In 2008 53% of Irish people voted down the Lisbon Treaty in a referenda. The Irish political class ignored that democratic expression of the Irish electorate and embraced the treaty anyway. Irish politicians are without question even more despicable that those UK politicians who now seek to destroy and splinter British democracy

    We must not allow May, Major, Blair and the rest of the EU mafia to use the threat of UK breakup to force the British people to accept continued membership of the morally, democratically bankrupt EU

    • Dominic
      Posted February 9, 2019 at 8:47 am | Permalink

      typo – ‘conversations’, obviously.

    • Tabulazero
      Posted February 9, 2019 at 9:27 am | Permalink

      Which version of Leaving the EU did you think the 52% of people voted for ?

      Is it Theresa May’s version that is endorsed by Vote Leave co-chairman Michael Gove or the no-deal version endorsed by Vote Leave Boris Johnson ?

      There seem to be some confusion.

      • cornishstu
        Posted February 9, 2019 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

        No confusion, leave means leaving everything that is the EU. Becoming an independent nation once again with full sovereignty, which means the EU has no jurisdiction over us. Any thing less is not leaving.

      • Tony Sharp
        Posted February 9, 2019 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

        There is NO DEAL negotiated by May – and I am not interested in anything Gove is involved with now – he should have resigned with Davis and Johnson.

        It is yourself that is confused, or pretending to be. The Proposed Withdrawal Agreement was created by the UK RemaIN Establishment believing that all the Referendum LeavEU result was about was just ‘ending Freedom of Movement’ or as these Civil Servants and Careerist Politicians categorise the issue ‘just racism and xenophobia’. So the Proposal was cooked up to – as it states to keep the UK ‘closely aligned to the Single Market and Customs Union’ – thinking it would get all RemaIN cross party support in Parliament.

        Even if it had got this majority those of us who campaigned for LeavEU will not accept it and you can watch Cross Party meltdowns as the result – unless you believe ordinary people are so foolish as to be fobbed off with it – or anything like it.

    • Malcolm White
      Posted February 9, 2019 at 11:07 am | Permalink

      Thank you. It’s nice to know that the Irish people – or perhaps a good percentage of them – see the antics of the current Irish Government in similar vein to that which we view our current leadership. Dismal and self-serving.

    • margaret howard
      Posted February 9, 2019 at 12:50 pm | Permalink


      What you forgot to mention was that after Brexit the two side of the country will belong to different trading blocs not the same one as now. And Northern Ireland voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU.

      • Anonymous
        Posted February 9, 2019 at 10:53 pm | Permalink

        Divisive and inciting civil war.

        We voted to leave the EU as The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

    • margaret howard
      Posted February 9, 2019 at 1:09 pm | Permalink


      ” The Irish political class ignored that democratic expression of the Irish electorate and embraced the treaty anyway.”

      I hope the rest of your ‘facts’ are more accurate than that.

      The Irish electorate voted down the original treaty as there were several points not compatible with their own plans. They EU took note and amended these where possible after which the new treaty was put before the electorate again and approved. A bit different from your version of events and a great deal more democratic than what our governments normally grant us.

      And incidentally, if your version of Irish ‘feelings’ is accurate, why have both sides overwhelmingly welcomed EU membership?

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted February 9, 2019 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

        “They EU took note and amended these where possible after which the new treaty was put before the electorate again and approved.”

        That’s strange, I distinctly remember the Irish opponents of the Lisbon Treaty saying that people were being made to vote again on the same treaty.

        Let’s have a look in the files … what about this?

        “Despite the decision to allow the State to retain its EU commissioner, Sinn Fein, Libertas, the Socialist Party and others maintain that the content of the Lisbon Treaty remains unchanged.”

  10. Devilhill
    Posted February 9, 2019 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    The Good Friday Agreement indeed. Churchill would have had the negotiators ( both sides ) taken and shot

  11. The Prangwizard
    Posted February 9, 2019 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    What a pathetic creature our Prime Minister is. Scuttling back and forth as a supplicant to the EU accepting insults and humiliation. It’s not hard to picture her bended knee entreaties. You know I am doing your bidding, I want to remain under your authority and you can see how I try to ignore my parliament and the people but it’s difficult. Please grant a concession or two so I can sell the deal. There are many like me who will sell out but please, I beg you, help me. I’ll endure more humiliation for me and the country. Please, please.

    • formula57
      Posted February 9, 2019 at 10:47 am | Permalink

      Indeed. The leaked May-Juncker conversation revealed here in comments yesterday (Peter Wood, first comment) was truly shocking (as well as very funny).

    • Tony Henry
      Posted February 9, 2019 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

      Superb comment Dominic.

  12. Shieldsman
    Posted February 9, 2019 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    What is the withdrawal Agreement all about? The agreement with backstop in its 585 pages is all about keeping Control and the UK in a Customs Union. Look at Brussels wording – it is the best deal possible, we compromised. So what was the compromise? Not about having an EU outer Customs Border, but where it would be placed, on the line of the current territorial border or in the Irish Sea. Bringing the GFA into play was a red herring, a cover for the EU border that must come into existence when the UK leaves.
    But then there was a breakthrough – sort of?
    After months of an impasse, on 14 November 2018, Theresa May said her cabinet had backed a draft deal between UK-EU negotiators that included agreement on a backstop.
    It would see Northern Ireland staying aligned to some rules of the EU single market, if another solution cannot be found by the end of the transition period in December 2020.
    But then there was a breakthrough – sort of?
    After months of an impasse, on 14 November 2018, Theresa May said her cabinet had backed a draft deal between UK-EU negotiators that included agreement on a backstop.
    It would see Northern Ireland staying aligned to some rules of the EU single market, if another solution cannot be found by the end of the transition period in December 2020.
    That means that goods coming into Northern Ireland would need to be checked to see if they meet EU standards.It would also involve a temporary single custom territory effectively keeping the whole of the UK in the EU customs union – unless and until both the EU and UK agree that it is no longer necessary.
    Both the DUP and the ERG voted against it.
    Today another facet of Irish Politics was revealed.
    Peter Foster reports: -“The PM’s visit to N.I. has rung serious alarm bells in the Northern Ireland business community which backed her Withdrawal Agreement, including the Irish backstop arrangement.
    The problem is that local business groups clearly don’t buy the idea that technology can deliver an ‘invisible’ border, any more than the officials do, and they do not want to leave the EU.
    Declan Billington, the vice-chairman of the Northern Ireland Food & Drink Association lobby group and boss of the animal feed manufacturer Thompson’s, is absolutely clear that a divergent UK trade policy with deals on agriculture with New Zealand, Australia or USA would quickly cause havoc as the two distinct trading areas rubbed up against each other.
    He estimates, for example, that a container-load of cheaper US-raised (and possibly hormone-infused) beef would be worth €50,000 more if it was taken into a smuggler’s shed on a border backroad, re-packaged as EU produce and then shipped south into the Republic and beyond.
    It is already estimated that smuggling on the border is worth €250m in bootleg cigarettes (one in four cigs smoked in Ireland is smuggled) and £300m in lost fuel duty. Add the full panoply of agricultural products and the paramilitary groups which reportedly now run the smuggling mafia will have a field day.
    Mr Billington also points out that such differentials on tariffs and standards will encourage illegal businesses that will not follow the rules, hugely raising the risk of food health scandals like the 2008 dioxins affair that saw blackmarket oil being used to heat pig sheds. The result was the contamination of the pigs’ meat with high levels of toxins, causing a product recall that affected 23 countries and cost the Irish pig industry £150m.”
    So who does the open border benefit most? The dishonest Irish and their cross border smuggling will continue to prosper.
    The BACKSTOP is more about protecting the EU single market against a divergent UK economy than it is about the GFA.
    In a NO deal scenario the day after we leave the EU has a ‘single market’ EAA border on the Eire border. How will the Taoiseach comply with the Commission rules to protect this border? It is his problem, not the UK’s problem. Will he erect Border Posts or miraculously electronically clear the traffic?
    The UK has not closed the border and Eire is still in the CTA.

  13. Tabulazero
    Posted February 9, 2019 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    The same old simple lies.

    The only point of Brexit is divergence. The regulation in the EU and the UK might be similar as of today but certainly not in the future.

    You will end up with two diverging regulatory environments sitting side-by-side and this will require some form of hard border to separate them.

    Unlike the majority of people who voted for Brexit, the EU is not yet senile enough to leave itself open to an UK which post-Brexit will slash any EU mandated minimum environmental or worker protection standards as it will surely do.

    The EU will not let itself be arbitraged by Brexit Britain. Forget about it.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted February 9, 2019 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

      And what would actually happen at that “hard border”?

      Will an Irish customs officer be saying, for example:

      “Now that I’ve taken a sample of this incoming product from the truck I can see just from looking at it that its manufacturer in the UK has been disregarding our excellent EU working time regulations, therefore this consignment cannot be allowed into the Republic to undermine the integrity of our EU Single Market.”

  14. Bryan Harris
    Posted February 9, 2019 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    The unfortunate aspect of all of this is that remainers are winning with the news headlines….
    While Leavers try to counteract the lies of the scare stories, remainers just fill the airwaves with their inane propaganda…. and yes it is PROPAGANDA.

    Parliament is not listening – they have already been convinced that a WTO exit will ruin big business, so they seek to make the ‘May deal’ appear more palliative.

    Until we can get our message across to the House, we will not be able to effectively correct the alarmism in the establishment propaganda.

  15. Caterpillar
    Posted February 9, 2019 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    UK should also increase threshold at which customs duties become payable. This would be good for the Irish border and good for with USA.

  16. Atlas
    Posted February 9, 2019 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    Quote “As both sides currently meet the same standards and wish to do so after Brexit to sell to each other”.

    Whilst I accept that the EU wants to have its standards – it is also true that the UK should have its own standards where appropriate. The EU is not a ‘font of wisdom’ on standards, rather it is a mechanism by which the Germans impose the standards that suit them on the rest of Europe. I don’t see why we have to play this creativity-stultifying game any longer and for me it was an important part of voting to leave the EU.

  17. Ed Mahony
    Posted February 9, 2019 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    Why don’t we use Brexit as an opportunity to break up the EU? (BUT only in an ORDERLY fashion, the most orderly possible). By putting together a plan and being patient in carrying it out?

    – The UK then ends up out of the EU.
    – We’ve solved the problem of N. Ireland.
    – We don’t have to worry about leaving the EU without an agreement and the economic results of that.
    – We save the EU from inevitable, perhaps chaotic collapse (that will affect us, economically, and in other ways).
    – We all end up with a good trade agreement (that everyone is happy with). Plus strong security and cultural ties.
    – The fulfils the result of the Referendum.
    – This would unite Parliament and the Country!

  18. Sakara Gold
    Posted February 9, 2019 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    At the moment, if you drive across the border between the Republic and NI, you really do not notice that a border has been crossed – possibly on some of the main roads you may see “Welcome to Northern Ireland” signs, going the other way you may notice signs proclaiming ” Fáilte go hÉireann”

    On most of the smaller routes, there are no signs. Communities on both sides of the divide like it that way. Lest we forget, the current arrangements have helped to preserve the peace since the Good Friday Agreement. It was re-assuring that the PM made contact and met recently with Leo Varadkar, one hopes that this small beginning will flower into a closer relationship.

    The recent car bomb outrage in Londonderry/Derry – apparently undertaken by a criminal group styling itself the “New IRA” – shows how fragile the peace is in Ireland. The EU should tread very carefully over the issue of the border.

  19. Den
    Posted February 9, 2019 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    The Remainer inspired NI Border problem highlights the inefficiencies of the EU with their over bloated bureaucracy, their reams of incomprehensible Rules and their lorry loads of Red Tape. So much so, they now want to interfere with the inner workings of a Nation and intend to overturn The Good Friday Agreement, previously agreed and operated over 19 years ago. It was made to ensure lasting peace in the Province and now Brussels wish to over rule its legality. Only a Dictatorship would attempt to do such a thing as to ignore such an Agreement.
    Enough said and yet another good reason for Britain to leave them to their own inherent, decrepit and debilitating ways and their intimidating methods.
    ‘Leave’ means ‘To Depart from Permanently’.

  20. ukretired123
    Posted February 9, 2019 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    Excellent analysis Sir John.
    As I commented recently the border is only EU’s problem which they created and media like the BBC and Varadaka hyped up to further their own leverage and agenda.
    Besides the backstop we now have the frontstop given by a self-promoted UK academic..

  21. Ed Mahony
    Posted February 9, 2019 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    Amazing things are possible.
    Just look at what Joan of Arc accomplished. She wasn’t some mythical heroine. She was a real historical figure!
    I really think Brexiters have just the right people to implement the break-up of the EU (BUT it has to be ORDERLY – disorderly, and it could be a disaster).

    Which Brexiters?
    – There’s your good self.
    – There’s Jacob Rees-Mogg. But I think he really needs to get serious and focus 100% on this.
    – There’s Boris. But I think he really needs to get serious. Someone needs to tell him to grow up and start using his talents properly.

    If we manage to leave the EU, and successfully in the long-term, there will still be lots of suffering. Remainers will still bitter about Brexit (and many Brexiters will just say – was it really worth it)? In other words, there wouldn’t be anything extraordinary about it. Plus there’s the risk that things could go wrong. Seriously wrong.

    But if we left the EU by breaking it up in an ORDERLY fashion ONLY – this would be an extraordinary, wonderful result for EVERYONE!

    I admit it wouldn’t be easy. But I for one would organise lots of supportive prayers to support our politicians on this move. Asking God for extraordinary help as He gave to St Joan of Arc when she asked Him for extraordinary help – and He answered her prayers (why wouldn’t He – if it’s the right prayer with the right, good goal) giving her extraordinary success at Orleans and elsewhere.

    Lastly, I strongly believe God would support this as the best one (although I might be wrong). Why? Because traditional Christianity (Catholic Christianity and the Christianity of Protestants such as Jane Austen, Samuel Johnson, Edmund Burke and others) has always taught that sovereignty is something sacred. That people should own their own countries like they should own their own homes. However, good goals must be achieved with good methods (the end does not justify the means). By breaking up the EU (in an ORDERLY fashion), countries get their sovereignty back, we create moral globalpolitical stability in Europe, and we can still have strong trade relations, as well as strong relations in security and culture. Not forgetting how great Englishmen such as William Shakespeare were loyal patriots but they also loved European culture too (but without ever imagining we should be joined in a political union like the EU).

  22. Ed Mahony
    Posted February 9, 2019 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    But in order to break up the EU in a proper, POSITIVELY CREATIVE / ORDERLY fashion so that it benefits us and Europe (and by benifitting Europe it in turns benefits us again – as their prosperity, peace and security also has knock-on effects with us), we need:

    – A proper, strong, well-thought-out plan / strategy / tactics.
    – Patience

    God bless the UK

  23. Ed Mahony
    Posted February 9, 2019 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    I also think we have to ditch the Singapore model.

    – It’s too radical for most people in the UK.
    – It doesn’t really inspire either, as people imagine Singapore as full of boring shopping malls (whether this is correct or not). And when they think of Singapore, they think of the US economy and how this is related to many of its serious social problems. A lot of Conservatives don’t want us to model our economy on the USA either as they don’t want American culture taking over our country more and more.
    – Singapore is much smaller than the UK
    – Taxes in Singapore are now going up (low tax served the country well in the past but new demands forcing country to raise taxes).
    – Our economy is already to focused on finance – consider the considerable strain we put our economy under during the last recession We need to spread our economy more into other areas of industry – in particular the high tech industry.


    – leads to high skilled jobs
    – high wages
    – high productivity
    – high exports
    – something we’re naturally good at considering our economic history, and places such as Oxford and Cambridge for excellence in high tech research.
    – All of this leads to higher patriotism

    Government needs a big High Tech plan:

    – developing Oxford to Cambridge Corridor
    – setting up hedge-funds for tech entrepreneurs that the Israeli government did resulting in massive success for Tel Aviv – now a major high tech world hub
    – investing in coding and tech skills – as the Irish government did, and now Ireland has two high tech billionaires still in their 20’s.
    And so on.

  24. Christine
    Posted February 9, 2019 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    Why would a customs boarder need to be different from the current excise border? Checks and payments for alcohol are already done away from the border so why can’t other products be treated in a similar way? It seems to me that this argument is purely political game playing.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted February 9, 2019 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

      If the EU and the Irish government said that in the absence of the proposed deal they would need to permanently man the land border to check incoming goods and protect the integrity of the EU Single Market then they should be asked to say precisely what the checkers would be looking for. If they said “Well, chlorinated chicken for a start, we don’t want any of that US-style chlorinated chicken in our market” then they could be reassured that for the foreseeable future it will continue to be illegal under UK law to import that product, so there is no new need for them to check for it at the border, and if at some future time we did start to allow it to be imported into the UK then we could pass and enforce a law strictly prohibiting its export onwards into the EU, including its carriage across the land border, so their checkers at the border would be wasting their time checking for it. It really is not necessary to ban US-style chlorinated chicken across the whole of the UK, or even just across Northern Ireland, to prevent it migrating into the Republic.

  25. Ed Mahony
    Posted February 9, 2019 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    Sorry, don’t mean to be critical of Boris and Jacob. I like them a lot. But I just want our country to come out of Brexit as best as possible.

  26. Mr Ison
    Posted February 9, 2019 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    Modern Slavery is the so called freedom of movement, it’s not new as the Kentucky experience reveals.

    When Politicians get hooked on the ideology of transmuting prosperity into wealth and poverty with cheap labour then naturally they want more and in our GB experience this has fractured or splintered off politics from the electorate.

    Leaving the EU could reverse the trend towards creating a new Appalachia to the North of the EU capitol.

  27. Ronald Olden
    Posted February 9, 2019 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    Insofar as this ‘border’ has anything to do with a Withdrawal Agreement,
    the UK has all the cards.

    If the EU refuses a deal solely on the grounds of an inadequate ‘backstop’ it’s still far worse off than if it had accepted the deal without any ‘backstop’ at all.

    It would gain nothing at all, but still doesn’t have a ‘backstop’ of any sort, the border issue (such as it is) crystallises immediately, and the EU doesn’t get any of the other things, including the £39 Billion, that the Withdrawal Agreement gives it.

    The Irish Border issue is an invention of both the UK and the EU to underpin their case for a deal of their negotiators’ own choosing, and in the case of the latter to chance their arm with a territorial claims over British Sovereign territory.

    Whatever ‘technological’ arrangements are available, there is no risk of a ‘hard border’ coming from our side, and very little from the other one.

    The UK and the ROI have both said that ‘Deal or No Deal’ we will not have Customs controls there. So in what sense is there a risk of a ‘hard border’ beyond what we already have for the existing regulations and tax rules applying between the UK and the ROI?

    The only risks arise from the whether the EU forces the ROI to introduce border checks. But that’s nothing to do with us. We can still keep the border open on our side.

    This has all been a political gimmick and tactically motivated threat to make it easier to force Parliament to accept the other unpatable aspects of the Withdrawal Agreement. And it’s worked.

    Parliament voted in the Brady Amendment to accept the agreement subject to some further unspecified progress on the backstop, and for the Spelman Amendment not to Leave without a deal.

    Mrs May and the EU have known all along that enough progress on the ‘backstop’ will be forthcoming as long as the other things were acceptable to the House.

  28. Dennis Zoff
    Posted February 9, 2019 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    Distractions, distractions…

    The most important point that is being missed is that of the “Withdrawal Agreement’s detailed contents” which is an unmitigated disaster for the UK and an absolutely marvellous solution for the EU. The WA detail inconvenience is being swept under the political carpet via nefarious sophistry and media ad hominem, their objective, to blindside citizens to the awful WA truth?

    The Backstop is front and centre, and deliberately so, to distract the populace away from the real evil contained within the WA. The Backstop, smoke and mirrors, will be withdrawn at the last minute by Brussels and both sides of the UK Government divide will be happy to sign, which will unleash the worst kind of political, legal and commercial purgatory on the UK citizens?

    Brussels and our so-called political elite still do not understand the British people. The British people’s intrinsic nature is of a nation that wishes to be free on so many levels!

    The “Brexit Party” is coming….Tories and Labour are in big trouble if they continue to squabble amongst themselves and miss the obvious…the people’s will!

  29. Dominic
    Posted February 9, 2019 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    How can the UK possibly hope to achieve self-determination, sovereignty and democratic renewal when those invested with the responsibility of such a task are actively working to undermine it? More than this, they are actively conspiring with a foreign political entity to undermine it. And therefore we watch mouth agape as this pathetic PM shuffles back and forth on bended knee with Merkel’s EU representatives begging forgiveness and deliverance

    Merkel isn’t Pope Clement and May is no Henry VIII.

    We don’t need the EU’s permission to leave the EU. Let’s just leave, incite fear and uncertainty in them as they’ve done to us and then let’s watch companies based in the EU pressure their governments into action to bend to our will

    The UK is a flexible, liberal economy. We can bend, flex and adapt to change which is something other major EU members cannot do.

    Assert ourselves. Depose May, elect Patel or Johnson, take on Marxist Labour in their heartlands and battle the next GE on the platform of leaving the EU and explaining to all Labour voters that Labour died in the 1970’s and that what they are voting for is a Marxist sect

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted February 9, 2019 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

      Retired “Whitehall mandarins” are at it as well; just glancing at this:

      you might think that their worry is about there being too many detailed technical and practical matters to sort out in the available time before March 29th, but read down further and it becomes clear that it is really about giving Parliament more time to overturn the referendum result:

      “… the priority must be to seek an extension of the Article 50 timetable, to allow for a process of deliberation in Parliament and the country about the direction of our future relationship with the EU …”


      “Launching a report by the People’s Vote campaign, “As a former head of the civil service, I worry that we are not ready as a country to step into this unknown future.”

      These two make me sick. They each had a vote, like I did, in what we were told would be a decisive, once in a generation referendum; I expect they voted to stay in the EU, but as it happens they lost the argument and the refereendum; yet their loyalty to the EU is so great that they will not accept that decision.

  30. Mr Ison
    Posted February 9, 2019 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    You’d have thought that the life experience that the public purse pays for would debate in Parliament rather in the ungoverned spaces online…it may yet!

  31. TheyWontCrushBrexit
    Posted February 9, 2019 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    Or put more simply:-

    To Leavers…the Irish Border issue is a ‘canard’.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted February 9, 2019 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

      You think they will duck the issue? 🙂

  32. nhsgp
    Posted February 9, 2019 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    If you are for free trade, why are you opposed to smuggling?

    Reply The anti smuggling measures are to ensure we collect VAT and Excise duties owing.

  33. nhsgp
    Posted February 9, 2019 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    Can you please explain how many nurses [1 bn pays the wages of 30,000] get sacked to pay the EU their 100 bn demand for a bailout?

    Same for the subsidies to low paid EU migrants you say others should be forced to pay against their consent?

  34. nhsgp
    Posted February 9, 2019 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    I had a conversation with an EU fan the other day. How was the UK going to trade with Switzerland when the EU was going to ban trade between the two countries?

    He didn’t get the concept of how was Ireland going to trade when the UK does the same and bans EU to EU trade through the UK.

    May should grow some of the proverbials, stand up and say the UK won’t impose austerity here to pay the EU for their errors. Suggest that EU nationals if they think the same way get hold of their politicians and demand the same.

  35. Mr Ison
    Posted February 9, 2019 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    Rebuilding the economy starts, as any fool can plainly see, and Gerry Adams recently cringed and reiterated, with a full belly.

    It’s not a powerful statement in itself but look at the miserable circumstances not confined to the Bogside..

    We make turbines and Ireland has the wind, i mean, put the jigsaw together with a lofty goal of free electricity just as soon as we can and whilst we are at it design nice places to live and work that use less energy and there is a policy.

    We’ll never get anywhere with swindlers milking hard border or backstop or the ideology and policy that others must have nothing.

  36. Richard
    Posted February 9, 2019 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    Brexit Myth :
    “Pursuing the world trade route gives the UK the opportunity to become a truly global Britain with the freedom to make ourselves more competitive. ”
    Brexit Reality :
    “Tokyo is confident that it can secure better terms from the UK than it did in negotiations with the much larger EU, and is not willing to duplicate the existing treaty precisely in either a bilateral deal or in talks for the UK to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership group”

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted February 9, 2019 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

      So says the pro-EU anti-Brexit FT, and also the pro-EU anti-Brexit Irish Times.

      Given that the EU will gain so little from its fantastic trade deal with Japan:

      I’m not panicking about Japan wanting to get slightly better terms in a trade deal just with the UK, which may or may not also be to our advantage. It’s not the case that the UK must lose whatever Japan gains in a trade deal with the UK, it could be to the benefit of both and possibly more so than with the EU’s deal.

      • Richard
        Posted February 9, 2019 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

        The issue is the UK will not be able to negotiate as good a deal as we currently have being part of the EU without compromise. We are losing control. Wave goodbye to sovereignty and standards. Say hello to chlorinated chicken and permissible maggots in your tinned fruit.

        • Edward2
          Posted February 10, 2019 at 8:13 am | Permalink

          Ridiculous comment richard.
          You would get prosecuted and closed down if any customer had maggots in their food.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted February 10, 2019 at 8:44 am | Permalink

          The issue is that the deal negotiated by the EU is actually of little overall economic value to the EU, see my previous comment, and if the Japanese wanted a better deal with just the UK then that could be a better deal for us as well. It could be a worse deal for the UK but there is no basis to presume that it would be, given that trade is supposed to be mutually beneficial. As for your add-0n comment about the UK being forced to accept lower standard imports, that is just nonsense. You really think that we depend on the protection of the EU to preserve us from maggots in tinned fruit?

      • hefner
        Posted February 9, 2019 at 9:58 pm | Permalink


        • Denis Cooper
          Posted February 10, 2019 at 8:45 am | Permalink

          In other words, you want to disagree but you cannot find any argument to support your case.

          • hefner
            Posted February 10, 2019 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

            Denis, thank your for the above comment.
            Your comment (09/02, 4:26 pm) refers to two EU press releases about the EU-Japan trade agreement. You properly conclude that it boils down to 0.1% of the collective EU GDP. In the other comment (02/02, 12:25pm) you also point out that ‘the overall economic impact of most other new trade deals around the world is now marginal’ . The point by another contributor was that given the small economic benefits, the negotiations might now be moving to other questions. You seem to be willing to consider these other questions as not worthy of consideration.
            In that context, my comment about sophistry was just about you discussing forcefully, as you were doing, the sex of angels.

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted February 10, 2019 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

            I can’t make much sense out of that, hefner.

  37. John O'Leary
    Posted February 9, 2019 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    As both sides currently meet the same standards and wish to do so after Brexit to sell to each other, we can continue with compliance checks away from the border

    We might decide to waive through Irish goods entering NI, but the EU has made it quite plane that it well treat the UK as it does all other third countries without Mutual Recognition Agreements. We might well be compliant with EU regulations but unless someone in the EU territories is prepared to issue a certificate of compliance then they will be stopped at the border and inspected. They are the rules and bending them for the UK’s benefit will put them in breach of WTO rules.

    You should stop pretending the EU is flexible and will do what the UK asks because it is in the commercial interests of EU based firms to do so. You know very well that the EU is inflexible and unreformable – that’s why we are leaving isn’t it?

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted February 10, 2019 at 8:48 am | Permalink

      “They are the rules and bending them for the UK’s benefit will put them in breach of WTO rules.”

      Which WTO rules? Please cite chapter and verse.

      “WTO says its rules would not force EU or UK to erect hard Irish border”

      • John O'Leary
        Posted February 10, 2019 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

        It comes under WTO non discrimination (MFN) rules.

        This applies both to tariff and non-tariff barriers (although tariffs are really not important). If the EU were to allow UK goods, which do not carry a valid certificate of conformity, to enter the Single Market without the same level of inspection, then they would be seen as discriminating against other third countries. Valid certificates of conformity issued by UK organisations will no longer be valid after Brexit.

        Yes the EU could probably get away with it for a short time, but I suspect other third countries would complain bitterly and retaliate if it went on too long.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted February 10, 2019 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

          As I have said, this is a matter of law and if the present certificates will no longer be valid then it needs a new legal agreement on how valid certificates can be issued after we have left the EU, it does not need the Irish to permanently man the border to check incoming goods.

          • John O'Leary
            Posted February 11, 2019 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

            f the present certificates will no longer be valid then it needs a new legal agreement on how valid certificates can be issued after we have left the EU

            Yes exactly right. Unfortunately knowing the snail like pace with which the EU enters into Mutual Recognition Agreements that could take between 5-8 years. What are those firms dependent on exports to the EU supposed to do in the meantime?

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted February 11, 2019 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

            As nothing will change in the relevant UK law for some years after we have left there is no objective reason why the present agreements should not be carried over.

  38. Tony Sharp
    Posted February 9, 2019 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    Dera John,
    On your ‘Brexit Endgame’ article you have not spell checked or reviewed it – was it published in error?

    Reply I have not published it yet nor finished it. I don’t know how some have seen an early draft as there is nothing on the website

  39. Steve
    Posted February 9, 2019 at 4:59 pm | Permalink


    “The UK government should repeat that after Brexit it will not impose watch towers and an army of inspectors on the border.”

    Thing is, we might need to. The republic doesn’t want a border because it reminds them that NI is sovereign UK territory.

    It’s recently been alleged that the republic was threatening a vote on Irish reunification, which is what this border stuff is really all about……a populist leprechaun thinking there’s a chance, but of course hiding behind the EU’s big boys.

  40. Brigham
    Posted February 9, 2019 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

    My MP is Damian Collins. I will be voting for Nigel’s new party.

    • Steve
      Posted February 9, 2019 at 9:34 pm | Permalink


      Re Nigel’s new party.

      Would that be the one that has been given approval, and also the very same which the BBC is refusing to even acknowledge ?

  41. Den
    Posted February 9, 2019 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

    Is there anyone in Mrs May’s Cabinet or among her battery of SPADs who has actually run a business and has a good idea of how Trade Deals should be negotiated? If so, they should explain why the Cabinet is acting like the rank amateurs they are and not utilising the expertise of Crawford Falconer, the Chief Trade Negotiator (adviser) and his team, to do the actual negotiations. Instead of holding the real expert back here, confined to the office, he should battle with Brussels to ensure we got the best deal possible for Britain or we leave with NO Deal. I doubt his direct involvement was ever considered although he was hired to do the job. Given the pathetic dealings of the Prime Minister in the EU negotiations, I wish I was a fly on the wall of his office!
    Does anyone know why Mrs May thinks she is so clever at all things when it is clear she ain’t fit for purpose at all? An overdose of control freakery perhaps?

  42. Davek
    Posted February 9, 2019 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

    You’ve been banging on about WTO and trading with new partners from worldwide regions for years but where are these ships to carry this extra trade..government cannot even muster more ships to suit other than ro-ro dover to calais in the light of Ramsgate news which is about the short trade..please explain how we are going to facilitate trade from far away deep sea..please do tell

    Reply There is plenty of shipping capacity. It doesnt need the govt to get involved

  43. Denis Cooper
    Posted February 9, 2019 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

    Somebody else who has forgotten the military maxim about no plan ever surviving its first contact with the enemy, who in this case happened to be Irish:

    “In 2015, before the referendum, the Vote Leave campaign was presented with a long and detailed analysis showing why the only way for us to leave the EU completely without seriously damaging our economy was to join the European Free Trade Association, thus remaining in the European Economic Area with free access to the EU market (and no Irish border problem) … ”

    Well, that would be “no Irish border problem” apart from the Irish government flatly rejecting anything like the “light touch” customs border between Norway (EFTA/EEA) and Sweden (EU/EEA), in fact rejecting anything that even implied the existence of a border on the island of Ireland.

    Even though that became clear nearly fifteen months ago, November 24th 2017:

    “Is the Norway-Sweden border a solution for Ireland?”

    The answer from Ireland’s Europe Minister Helen McEntee, at just over 3 minutes in:

    “We have been very very clear from day one, there cannot be a physical border and that means ruling out cameras, that means ruling out technology, that means ruling out anything that would imply a border on the island of Ireland, it is not an option for us”.

    Note this was not just “ruling out reinstatement of customs posts at the border”, the false impression conveyed by many media reports, it was “ruling out anything that would imply a border on the island of Ireland”.

  44. Mr Ison
    Posted February 9, 2019 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

    I’m still waiting for Baseball to emerge as something that we all could do better than the USA.

    Boxing isn’t the best as a team sport.

  45. Mr Ison
    Posted February 9, 2019 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

    If we are to create brand spanking new towns about these Isles then cycling and baseball are themes to look into.

  46. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted February 9, 2019 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

    We need urgently to stop sending the Prime Minister on a wild goose chase round Europe now that No Deal planning (constructive planning not Project Fear) for 30th March has become urgent.

    There will be no Withdrawal Agreement, no transition period and no backstops.

    Item one – the tariffs that we charge on imports from the EU must be defined. I propose that the default rate should be 5% on all items, replaced by a 0% rate on items agreed by the EU. Let us hope that cars and car parts, civil aviation and civil aviation parts are zero rated in both directions.

    An exception should be tariffs on the small amount of imports from the Republic of Ireland; these should be zero. There is little danger of other EU countries using Northern Ireland as a tariff free back door to the UK. Set against the 5% tariff saved would be triple handling costs and the cost of mileage from Dublin to Belfast. Simultaneously, we would guarantee that the UK rule will always be a sub-section of the EU rule book. There would therefore be no need for extra checks on imports from the Republic and therefore no need, from the UK point of view, for a hard border. Indeed, if the EC were to bully the Republic into erecting border posts, we could demolish each one with a single tank shell. Whether the Republic wished to make checks on imports from Northern Ireland would be a matter for them.

    Item two – the EC must define the tariffs that it will apply to imports from the UK. We should make it clear that if these are penal, we will retaliate. For example, why should they charge 40% on UK beef and lamb?

    Item three – the crux of our negotiating position – the £39 billion bung expected by the EC will be paid annually in yearly instalments in arrears. Payments will be conditional on the UK being treated nicely. Examples of deductions would be the return of our contributions plus interest if we are kicked off the Galileo Project, and monies charged if non-tariff barriers such as delays add to our exporters’ costs. We are in the driving seat and can define being treated nicely as widely as we wish to. We’ve got the money and they haven’t. When you have your opponent by the cojones, you hold on tight and don’t let go.

    I am disappointed that Mr Gove has not yet defined agriculture and fisheries policy in terms of the percentages of home production to be achieved, let alone produced a White Paper on how to achieve those percentages. We should not by now be in limbo.

  47. Original Richard
    Posted February 9, 2019 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

    At some point soon the EU, to avoid the blame for a “no-deal”, which is not in their interests, are going to blurt out that the Irish backstop was really Mrs. May’s idea to keep the UK tied permanently and without representation to the EU’s institutions.

    Ireland was happy to going along with this as they saw it as a way to unify the island.

  48. Shieldsman
    Posted February 9, 2019 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

    Commenting on Booker today:
    If the official Brexit leave campaign had said we favour the Booker/North leave plan (remaining attached to the EU) would the Government have adopted it? NO. Once the vote was over the two campaign groups ceased to exist. They had no part in implementing the vote.

    The Government as the signatory to the Lisbon Treaty had no option other than to invoke Article 50 and then present the Withdrawal Agreement, backstop, warts and all to Parliament.
    If the Government had been forward looking they would have realised that Article 50 could end up as a dead end which it has.
    One of North’s followers commented – The Booker/North plan seeks to treat leaving as a process rather than an event.
    But, when would we actually leave?

  49. Peter D Gardner
    Posted February 11, 2019 at 5:14 am | Permalink

    Mrs May does not want to solve the Irish border problem. She has consistently used three main tactics to get her deal accepted in UK: Project Fear, not preparing for a WTO exit and the Irish border. Only her deal can solve the Irish border problem and she has used the other two tactics to frighten MPs into accepting it. I have already commented on another article by Dr Redwood that Mrs May intends UK to rejoin the EU under its new treaties in 2025.
    There are many MPs who fear being blamed for any disruption caused by a WTO Brexit. The next general election is imminent. The appalling effects of May Withdrawal (Accession) Agreement will probably not be felt until later. For many it’s an easy choice: accept the deal or lose your seat.

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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