New Times,
New Thinking.

  1. Politics
  2. Brexit
7 September 2018

The latest solution to the Irish border issue is likely unworkable – but that’s irrelevant

No plan can overcome the fact that the Conservatives don’t have the numbers in parliament to pass any version of Brexit.

By Stephen Bush

Have the Brexiteers finally found a workable solution to the Irish border problem? According to the Sun‘s Steve Hawkes, they have drawn up a serious plan to get around the issue.

One of the Brexit ultras’ problems is that they can’t have the level of customs and regulatory divergence they crave while preserving the United Kingdom’s objectives and imperatives as far as the Irish border goes. You can’t have divergence without some form of border checks and you can’t have checks without greater infrastructure. The Conservative Party has ruled out the only other solution – a customs border in the Irish Sea – and their reliance on the DUP to survive in office means it is not possible anyway.

The new plan – one of a series of proposals to be released by the European Research Group next week – is this: for EU officials to be empowered to make customs checks at all British ports. Would it resolve the issue? Well, from the Sun‘s write-up it’s unclear if the ERG is proposing that EU officials be able to make checks only on NI-bound goods (which wouldn’t tackle the problem of the Irish border becoming a backdoor into the single market) or on all goods going through British ports (which would).

Form suggests that it is more likely that the ERG are proposing the unworkable former rather than the achievable latter, but looming deadlines make everyone more serious.

But the trouble for both sides of the Conservative Party is no new plan resolves their biggest headache: that the numbers are not there in parliament to pass any version of Brexit as it stands.

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via saturdayread.substack.com The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via morningcall.substack.com
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
THANK YOU

Content from our partners
The power of place in tackling climate change
Tackling the UK's biggest health challenges
"Heat or eat": how to help millions in fuel poverty – with British Gas Energy Trust