There always was going to be some blowback for what we English have done to Ireland over the centuries and here it is over Brexit. Either the kingdom becomes un-united over customs, the law and regulation – the 6 counties stay in the EU effectively – or Britain itself may not leave. The correct answer to this conundrum is to do what we’ve been doing for much of the past millennium over the island. We lie.
The insistence is that there cannot be a hard border between Northern Ireland and Eire because this will breach not only the Good Friday agreement but also good manners and even basic common sense. There is no manner in which we’re going to build a wall across nor control in any useful way a dividing line which includes the Drummully Polyp. An area where the road crosses the border several times, unfortunately not in a way which connects a piece of the Republic with, well, with the Republic without having to pass through potential controls serially.
We have in recent times had a significant portion of the British Army trying to manage this sectioning of open fields and small streams – there are near no major geographical features to inform or defend – into different states. It didn’t work and it won’t again either.
M. Barnier and others insist that if the regulatory regime is to change at this line on the map then we must have a border, with customs posts, checks and limitations. If we are not to have what we cannot, an impermeable physical barrier to unfettered movement, then the regulatory and customs regime cannot change at Gortnacarrow and again at Clonacore. Effectively, our choice is Brexit or the Bogay Wall, towers, barbed wire and all.
Our answer should be “Yes.” We agree that we are leaving, that we have put in place that hard border. Then we do absolutely nothing above what we already do. People come and go as they wish, carrying what goods they can, and we do nothing. Except, as we already do, we keep an eye on those moving things on an industrial scale and have our little customs and tax chats with them away from that line on the map.
What other people wish to do on their side of that line is entirely up to them. We will do, as we’ve always done when in our right minds, what is useful and beneficial to us. It’s somewhat unfashionable these days to talk of the empire but it’s still true that we had it. Often because we’re rather good at this lying, cheating and dissembling. We should carry on. So, there’s the border, as it is today. And?