Thursday, 15 June 2017
Barnier thinks a soft Irish border is compatible with a hard Brexit.
Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator has made the bizarre claim that details about the north / south Irish border need to be sorted out at the START of negotiations with the UK. Is Barnier barmy? (See item No.3 at the latter link - you may need to wait a few seconds for it to load)
First, on the SOUTHERN border of the EU (i.e. the Mediterranean) chaos reigns supreme. That is, anyone who wants to enter the EU from Africa for dodgy reasons can jump into a rubber dinghy, paddle out the sea, and some EU based vessel will probably come to their rescue and transport them to the EU. Thus Barnier is in no position to preach sermons to the effect that alles should be in ordnung on the EU’s NORTHERN border.
A second flaw in Barner’s idea is thus.
The Irish Republic is fully entitled to apply to become the next state of the USA if it so wishes. Assuming it succeeded, the border between north and southern Ireland (the Irish Republic) would be very much towards the hard end of the scale: barbed wire fences along the border, import tariffs / duties to pay for goods crossing the border, etc.
The fact that that would not be to the liking of those living near the border (to the north of it and to the south) is wholly irrelevant: if the Irish Republic took the decision to join the US in a democratic fashion, that would be it. End of. People near the border would have no right to object.
Same goes for Brexit. The UK has taken the decision to go for Brexit. Whether the end result is a relatively hard Brexit with, in consequence a relatively hard border in Ireland, or a relatively soft Brexit with a relatively soft border remains to be seen. But people near the border have no right to object if it turns out to be a hard border.
Trying to determine the nature of the Irish border BEFORE the negotiations are complete, or near complete, is to put the cart before the horse.
Of course it’s always possible that Barnier is not barmy at all and that he is simply rattling the cage of the UK negotiators: a ploy which would work if the UK negotiators are sufficiently clueless.