Irish border in reality a non-issue

IRISH BORDER ‘PROBLEM’ SOLVED LONG AGO BY HMRC

“WE DO NOT BELIEVE WE REQUIRE ANY INFRASTRUCTURE BETWEEN NORTHERN IRELAND AND IRELAND UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES.” – Jon Thompson, Head of HMRC

FACTS4EU.ORG LETTER TO THOSE WHO VOTED REMAIN – No.9

Dear Remain Voter

You may have little interest in the Irish border question. However this letter to you is about more than that.

It’s an example of the way in which various Brexit issues which are actually ‘non-issues’ are being blown out of proportion. The question of the land border in Ireland can easily be solved, just like all the other issues, provided people actually want to deal reasonably.

We ask you to read what follows and decide for yourself whether what we say is true.

IRISH BORDER AS AN EXCUSE TO PREVENT FULL BREXIT

In the early days after the Brexit vote, the EU wanted to highlight some Brexit issues which would allow it to say it was ‘protecting citizens’. One of these issues was the land border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. This had the added advantage that the EU could talk about its supposititious role in maintaining peace.

Since then, Remainer politicians in the UK have seized on this issue and wish to make it sound impossible to solve, unless the UK stays in the or ‘a’ Customs Union with the EU.

The reality is that this issue is perfectly solvable. However, it’s not in the interests of either the EUrocrats or British Remainer politicians to admit this. Below we provide evidence from the man responsible for HM Customs, showing how it can be done without undue drama.

BREXIT FACTS4EU.ORG SUMMARY

No infrastructure between NI and Ireland is required under any circumstances

New customs system on schedule and will be online two months before exit

Irish and French customs won’t discuss new arrangements with HMRC

Mr Thompson is Chief Executive and Permanent Secretary at HM Revenue and Customs and his minister is the Chancellor, Philip Hammond. We strongly recommend viewing his testimony to the Exiting the European Union Committee, which he gave on Wednesday 29 November 2017.

SOME KEY EXCERPTS – HEAD OF HMRC – POST-BREXIT CUSTOMS & BORDERS

On the new Customs Declaration Service

“Actually the project is completely on track. We have every confidence it will be completed by January 2019. The project has met all of its milestones in the current year. Traders will begin the migration to the new system in July 2018.”

On the Transition Period

Q: “Is it your anticipation that things will just carry on as they are at the moment?”

A: “Yes.”

On Northern Ireland

Q: “The government wants no border and no infrastructure – how can the government’s policy be achieved?”

A: “The assumption is there’s a negotiated settlement with the EU in which the highly streamlined customs arrangement is adopted. We stay in the common transit convention, there’s mutual recognition of the authorized economic operator scheme, and so on. [Mr Thompson refers the Committee to the government papers issued on this question in August 2017.]

“Because of the unique Northern Ireland/Ireland situation you need to add on three additional things which are set out in the NI paper.

“First of all to maximize the authorizIriah border ed economic operator scheme, secondly to seek a derogation for small traders because there needs to be a recognition that the border area is very much a local economy in which traders cross the border on a regular basis, and thirdly that we would move to a system of self-assessment, which is set out in the Union Customs Code and which is very much the direction of travel for the European Union.

“We believe that would cover the vast majority of trade between Ireland and Northern Ireland. If there were any checks they would be risk and intelligence based checks and they would take place well away from the legal border.”

Q: “In the event of no deal, would it be possible to achieve no border infrastructure?”

A: “It’s possible for the government to make a unilateral decision of what it will do at the border, which would be in line with my answer to your previous question. We do not believe we require any infrastructure between Northern Ireland and Ireland under any circumstances.”

Q: “Have you had any dealings with the Irish about this?”

A: “There are no formal conversations with either the French or the Irish. We cannot talk to Customs or taxation management organizations in either of those countries. There are only informal conversations with the Belgians and the Dutch.”

Q: “From everything you’ve said, this isn’t much of an issue, or am I missing something? From our point of view, there’s no reason why it can’t be business as usual.”

A: “That is correct. That is correct. That is the consistent advice we have given ministers.”

OBSERVATIONS

A SIMPLE QUESTION

If the Irish border and customs question is as important as the EU and Remainer MPs say it is, why hasn’t Mr Thompson been able to discuss it with his counterparts in the EU as part of the Brexit negotiations? Why wasn’t a formal team of specialists put together last year from each side to thrash out the solution?

Mr Thompson’s Irish counterpart is reported as having similar views to him so doubtless he would be keen to do this if he were allowed. It’s as if the EU, the Irish government, and the Remainer politicians in Westminster do not want this issue to be resolved.

As it is, Mr Thompson has laid out the solution very clearly. It all sounds perfectly logical and all of it was issued by the UK government last summer.

POLITICAL GAME-PLAYING

On the Irish border question as with everything else connected with Brexit, it’s perfectly obvious that political games are being played – by the EU and by Remoaner MPs.

There is ample evidence for this, including a report from the EU ‘parliament’ last year which the EU conveniently keeps forgetting about. The UK government issued two papers on how to deal with the issue last July, but the EU and Remoaner MPs keep ignoring those too.

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