Theresa May’s Irish border plans are a ‘pipe-dream’ which could wreck peace in Northern Ireland

NEWRY, NORTHERN IRELAND - FEBRUARY 02: A bus crossing along the border between Northern and southern Ireland passes a sign campaigning against a so called hard Brexit, on February 2, 2017 in Newry, Northern Ireland. The British government today published an official policy document setting out its Brexit plans, the white paper outlines the govermnets 12 principles including migration control. Northern Ireland will have the only hard border with the rest of the European union with many in Ireland fearing that a manned border between the north and the south could lead to ramifications for the peace process in the province. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

Theresa May’s proposals for a frictionless border in Ireland are a “pipe-dream” and would create significant friction between Northern Ireland and Ireland, former senior UK diplomat Lord David Hannay has warned.
Theresa May is reportedly set to cave to pressure from Cabinet Brexiteers to push for a “max-fac” customs proposal which critics say is untested and would create significant friction in Ireland.
Lord Hannay, a crossbench peer, said MPs could vote in favour of customs union membership to avoid a “horrendous” situation in Ireland.
“A lot of people, very reasonably, are really worried by the forces that have been unleashed by the referendum vote, in so far as the Irish settlement and the Good Friday Agreement is concerned,” he said.

LONDON — Theresa May’s proposals to avoid a hard Brexit border with Ireland are a “pipe-dream” which risk creating a “horrendous situation” for the peace process in Northern Ireland, a former senior UK diplomat has said.

Lord David Hannay, a crossbench peer and former UK ambassador to Europe and the UN, told Business Insider that both customs proposals being pushed Theresa May — known as “max fac” and the “customs partnership” — would not create a frictionless border in Ireland, but would instead endanger the Good Friday Agreement which has brought relative stability to the border region.

“Max fac […] is not going to produce frictionless trade,” said Lord Hannay.

“It’s going to produce trade with friction. The amount of friction is the subject of negotiation, but the clear assumption is that British producers of goods will have less access to the market than they have now.”

He said the suggestion the “customs partnership” proposal would create frictionless trade was a “pipedream.”

“You’re setting up a huge amount of friction which will be damaging to British exporters,” he said.

Theresa May is trying to solve two problems at once: Avoiding a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland while leaving the customs union in order to strike trade deals outside the EU.

To that end, she and her Brexit negotiating team have come up with two proposals. The first, the “customs partnership,” would involve the UK collecting EU tarriffs on goods passing through Britain, but it was shot down by Cabinet Brexiteers on Friday, who said it was too similar to current EU arrangements.

That means May is reportedly leaning towards the “max-fac,” or maximum facilitation, option, would rely on new technologies and trusted trader schemes to remove the need for physical customs checks. The scheme is entirely untested and critics say it would create a significant amount of friction at the border in the forms of checks, delays, and infrastructure.

A lot of people are really worried by the forces that have been unleashed by the referendum vote. They are right to be

The seemingly intractable problem of the Irish border had changed parliamentary arithmetic in the House of Commons “quite a lot” in favour of customs union membership, Lord Hannay suggested, with MPs set to vote on the issue thanks to a House of Lords amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill passed …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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