Article by TUV leader Jim Allister published in today’s Belfast Telegraph.
There are many contradictions and concerns arising from the Brexit Phase 1 deal, but for the purpose of this article I will focus on only one, but a defining one.
Despite all the smoke and mirrors of the published deal, this unanswered scenario begs many questions of the deal and maybe sheds light on its real direction of travel.
The scenario is this: goods arrive in GB pursuant to a post-Brexit trade deal between the UK and some third country; can those goods have unfettered access to every part of the United Kingdom?
If we are to believe the foundational principles of Friday’s deal there will be no border on the island of Ireland, so any goods entering Northern Ireland will have unfettered access into and across the entire EU. But how can that be as EU treaties demand respect for EU borders and EU standards?
So, unless a blind eye is turned, it seems obvious the price of no Irish border will be the denial of unfettered access of such goods from GB to NI. Isn’t that an unavoidable conclusion from the key thrust of the deal? That, then, necessitates checks on goods arriving in NI from GB. Where?
If so, then Northern Ireland will no longer be a full part of the UK single market.
Is that why in paragraph 50 of the deal the UK pledge is selective, pledging free trade only in one direction: “the United Kingdom will continue to ensure the same unfettered access for Northern Ireland’s businesses to the whole of the United Kingdom internal market.” Every word matters in such documents and equally the absence of a pledge on reciprocal and unfettered access for business from GB to NI must be of significance.
I fear it means that our birthright entitlement of full two-way enjoyment of the UK internal market is to be trumped by the obsession with no Irish border. If so, we have been betrayed.
The fact that it is done in the name of defending the Belfast Agreement adds farce to the chicanery, because, despite all the palaver in the deal about it, the Belfast Agreement has nothing to do with EU membership or Brexit. It does not require regulatory alignment, just cooperation. Its cooperation requirements can be met whether or not Northern Ireland is in the EU, but the British Government fell hook, line and sinker for Dublin’s blarney.
Sadly, they were not the only ones cajoled or manoeuvred. The DUP was clearly bounced when Mrs May told them she was proceeding, with or without their blessing. Now, they are left to sell a deal they must know either neuters proper Brexit for the whole UK or is threatening to the integrity of the United Kingdom and which could yet leave us as a place apart shackled by EU rules and alignment.