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In a speech today in Belfast, the UK PM said that the European Union must 'evolve' its position on Brexit and the Irish border question.
After the PM gave her speech about the 'unworkable' EU position on the Irish border, the Irish finance minister, Paschal Donohoe, said the Irish government was open to new proposals but only if they were better than the current one.
Now, the UK wants to maintain the political and border integrity of the UK, by having no internal market borders and it also wants to keep its word regarding the Good Friday Agreement by having no hard border between the North and South of Ireland.
The EU says it also wants no hard border between the North and South of Ireland but wants to maintain its political and border integrity by effectively erecting a barrier between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.
For its part the Republic of Ireland wants to have no hard border between the North and South of Ireland and use every lever it can to – over time – achieve one united island of Ireland.
So, the joint aim is no hard border between the North and South of Ireland. But the political aims differ wildly to the point that each party's stance is unacceptable to at least one of the others and getting round that is the hard part.
The EU and the Republic claim that there is only solution, and that is the effective break up of the UK by hiving off Northern Ireland and they claim that there are no other ways around it. Unless of course the UK remains completely committed to the customs union and single market.
The UK says technical solutions can be found and that a currency, VAT, legal and corporation tax border already exists there and that adding goods to the list is doable.
So, the main sticking point appears to be whether or not a technical border solution can be found to ensure no hard border is required. If a solution to that can be found, then the political objections start to melt away.
Now, in April this year, the Engineering and Technology magazine, E&T, published an article saying that:
"Creating a frictionless “smart border” between the UK and the Republic of Ireland is “perfectly possible and doable” within as little as two years, the author of an EU-published research paper examining this aspect of Brexit has told E&T."
In his interview with the magazine, Lars Karlsson, former director of the World Customs Organisation and deputy director general of Swedish Customs as well as the author of that EU-commissioned paper on Brexit and the Irish border called ‘Smart Border 2.0’, said that he:
"…remains confident that there are neither technological nor legal barriers to creating a border with almost no noticeable difference from the ’soft’ frontier that currently exists between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic."
And the BBC reported back in May that the top two officials in the UK HMRC; the chief executive, Jon Thompson, and his deputy, Jim Harra, have repeated the position that no hard border will be needed in Ireland whatever the outcome.
And Niall Cody, the Irish tax chief said he was 'practically 100% certain' there will be no new customs posts along the north south land border.
You have to ask yourself why the politicians aren't listening to these people don't you. Especially those politicians on the side of the EU and the Republic of Ireland.
But while Mrs May demands flexibility from the EU, the bloc's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, has been pulling her Chequers based White Paper apart.
The independent reports that:
"Mr Barnier said Ms May’s complicated proposal for customs would likely create huge amounts of new paperwork, warning: 'Brexit cannot and will not justify additional bureaucracy'."
He also said that the proposal for the UK to collect EU tariffs on its behalf may not even be lawful.
The PM's proposals haven't been rejected outright yet. At the moment it seems to be more a series of questions.
But as time goes on it seems that the only Brexit that can be achieved is a hard Brexit. Because the EU seems to have a choice of only one of two settings that it will apply to the UK, either all in or all out.
The fact that the bloc has just set up a free trade deal with Japan, without Japan having to pay the EU 39 billion quid, without Japan having to sign up to ECJ jurisdiction nor to the free of movement of people – leaves you questionning what the EU game is. Do the Eurocrats still think they can keep the UK on a leash?
But the Remain option or some form of it is still being fought for – hard. So I do think we have to be on our guard as Brexiteers. Because what happens in the coming months will all hinge on how much fear of Brexit the Establishment can instil into the general UK population. If they think they can push that far enough they may feel brave enough to try and extend Article 50. And I think the foundations for that have been quietly laid already.
The last throw of the dice may be fast approaching and the fear-factor may dictate which side throws double six and which side ends up with snake-eyes.
So, as far as I'm concerned – on anti-Brexit fear-mongering, you ain't seen nothin' yet!