The Telegraph, July 13, Lord Trimble
The Government must steel itself in the last stage of talks to remove the unacceptable concessions made over the Withdrawal Agreement.
The border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, together with the abuse and misuse of the Good Friday Agreement (GFA), has been used as the Trojan Horse by which the EU has sought to undermine the UK’s attempt to gain back sovereignty.
The plan was cleverly crafted. First of all, the EU insisted that talks on the future relationship could not commence until three issues were agreed. The first was the UK’s contribution to the “divorce Bill”. The second was the rights of EU citizens living in the UK and UK citizens living in the EU and, finally, there was the question of the Northen Ireland (NI)/Republic of Ireland (RoI) border.
This land border was given an importance out of all proportion. In order to safeguard the integrity of the EU Single Market, goods flowing across this border would need to be monitored so that the EU could collect any tariffs due and ensure the goods were compliant with EU rules, standards and regulations. The arrangements to carry out such checks, it was argued, would mean putting a hard infrastructure along the border and this would be a contravention of the Good Friday Agreement (GFA). The consequences would be catastrophic because they would amount to tearing up an international agreement, would alienate nationalists in NI and would give terrorists targets to attack, causing the peace process to collapse and leading to a return of the terrorist campaign in NI.
Then came the clever part. The only way of avoiding such a scenario was for the UK to remain part of the EU Customs Union so that there would be no need to collect tariffs and the UK would not be able to do trade deals with other countries which involved standards different from those pertaining in the EU. Furthermore, to avoid the need for regulatory checks, the UK to some extent would continue to apply EU Single Market rules and NI would need fully to comply with them.
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