New barriers – including the fact that the UK will be (after Brexit) having different standards, trade arrangements and tariffs than the EU – will bring delays, extra bureaucracy, and eventually bankruptcies, in their wake.
This is because it means the UK having different standards, and, sooner or later, different trade arrangements and tariffs than the EU.
Whether these barriers are at the geographic boundary, or a few miles away, makes little difference.
These new barriers will bring delays, extra bureaucracy, and eventually bankruptcies, in their wake.
This is what Brexit means, and was always going to mean. Taking back control, by its nature, means more controls.
The UK Government says it wants to impose these controls for two reasons.
The first is to be able to control immigration to the UK from the EU.
The truth is that the bulk of the immigration to the UK is not from the EU, but from outside it. EU immigration to the UK will fall off anyway because the population of the EU countries, from whom immigrants have come to the UK, is set to decline.
The second is to be able to make its own trade deals with non EU countries.
This argument is unconvincing. On leaving the EU the UK will lose the trade agreements it ALREADY HAS with the EU, and through the EU, with other countries.
In fact, leaving the EU will mean the UK losing trade agreements with countries that account for 70% of all UK trade. It will need a lot of new agreement to make up for this sudden and dramatic loss!
The backstop would reduce the effect of this, but not remove it altogether, especially if the UK opts for a different VAT regime to the EU.
If there is no deal, and no backstop, the European Commission, in a paper published in November, said: “Member States, including national authorities, will play a key role in implementing and enforcing EU law vis-à-vis the United Kingdom as a third country. This includes performing the necessary border checks and controls and processing the necessary authorisations and licences.”
The paper does not exempt any of the EU Member State from this requirement.
Indeed if the EU Customs Union and Single Market were to deliberately fail to control any of its borders, it would soon cease to exist, as a Customs Union and a Single Market.
This would not be in Ireland’s interest, to put it mildly.
John Bruton is the former Prime Minister of the Republic of Ireland (1994-97) and the former European Union Ambassador to the United States (2004-09). He has held several important offices in Irish government, including Minister for Finance, Minister for Industry & Energy, and Minister for Trade, Commerce & Tourism.