Current Affairs Politics

UK Brexit Plan Of Customs Centres And Zones Risks Return To A Militarised Border

Despite the numerous media claims to the contrary, by both optimists and apologists, there is very little evidence that the Democratic Unionist Party is softening its opposition to the Backstop Protocol in the Draft Withdrawal Agreement between the United Kingdom and the European Union, or indeed the proposed treaty as a whole. On the contrary, the DUP is playing a game of appearing flexible to the more gullible or unionist-sympathising sections of the press in Ireland and the UK while sticking to its consistently reiterated “blood red line”. Though some have argued that Arlene Foster and company are actually hoping to avoid the imposition of a new “hard border” between the north-east and the rest of the country, while maintaining their reputation as Brexit enthusiasts, there is a strong impression that a significant chunk of the party’s membership is more than comfortable with the idea of a “partition 2.0”. Indeed, it is worth remembering that Foster and her closest allies hail from the anti-peace process camp in the unionist community, defecting in the early 2000s from the Ulster Unionist Party to Ian Paisley’s more extreme grouping over their opposition to the political dispensation that followed the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.

So when RTÉ splashed the contents of London’s proposed – and knowingly unworkable – solution to the ongoing Brexit impasse you can be fairly sure that the DUP was in the loop well beforehand and is moving in lockstop with the ascendant Brexiteer bloc of the governing Conservative Party. The suggested deal, with its references to “customs clearance centres” or posts manned by customs officers on either side of the border, is a complete non-starter as far as Dublin and Brussels is concerned, and breaks a previous commitment from Britain to avoid anything that risks the Irish-British peace process. Any type of infrastructure on or near the boundary around the Six Counties will inevitably become the subject of protests and perhaps worse, leading to the creeping securitisation or outright militarisation of the most troubled areas. Far from being a step forward, the UK discussion documents submitted to the EU are a step backwards towards a dark and dismal past.

A past some in the DUP found politically easier to live with than the present.

19 comments on “UK Brexit Plan Of Customs Centres And Zones Risks Return To A Militarised Border

  1. That map reminds of when the Blessed Margaret wanted hot pursuit for her Security forces into the Republic. Was it ten or twenty miles back then?

    • That’s right. I wonder if it ever struck her that if that worked one way across the border logically it should work the other.

      • As to the overall proposal, will they ever learn?

      • You know you’d get one of her condescending sneers as she replies “Well of course the SAS will operate on both sides of the border.”

        And given the number of incidences of map reading errors they apparently did.

  2. Yes indeed remember when 8 SAS men were captured by the Guards. Even went to court but they were eventually set free.

  3. You make a good point about the DUP – are they electioneering already?

    It looks like the UK opposition has the time to replace the Tory govt with a care taker Corbyn govt, request an extension and hold a GE. Whether they get it together or is another matter.

    Thing is, will the EU grant an extension and deal with the UKIP MEPs throwing wrenches into gears? Does an extension require unanimity or majority support?

    • When have they not been electioneering?

      • The DUP are in more trouble than they (or BBC NI and local media in general) care to acknowledge. The penny has finally dropped with a lot of their agricultural/business base, who’ve realised exactly what Brexit means for them. Alliance stands to benefit from this, to a small degree, and, separately, from a large disaffected general pro-union vote (substantially, but far from entirely, youth). The Ulster Unionists too will benefit from the first lot, to a small degree. We all stand to benefit from the fact that a lot of disgruntled DUP supporters will sit in the house rather than vote for anyone else. That’s without taking into account the ever-lengthening list of alleged and proven malpractices by DUP elected members and the Wrightbus fiasco in North Antrim, where millions was pumped into an evangelical church by at least one of the Wright family while the company was going down the tubes at the cost of 100s of jobs. Paisley Jnr in particular, and the DUP in general, are closely associated with the Wright family and their company. Given Paisley’s other recent “problems” I would expect Jim Alister to make big gains in the North Antrim constituency.

        • I’m thinking much the same, but would like an election to test the various aspects of this.

          APNI trying to ride both the U & N horses while loudly declaiming any assertion that have a position on partition, is a constant challenge to maintain. One of these days they are going to come a cropper.

          Normally I’d agree with you on the TUV but Jim doesn’t play well with others. He’d probably have to do a Bob McCartney and stand everywhere himself. But wouldn’t it be a riot if he did, splitting the U vote and eliminating the DUP MPs in one sweep?

          • Ha, ha, what a lovely bit of understatement “Jim doesn’t play well with others”. He’s probably the most obnoxious person in NI politics, and that’s in a very crowded field. Still, I think he could just about cause an upset in North Antrim. As for Alliance, I fully agree. If you try to be all things to all people, as APNI does, you run the risk of being considered as nothing by everybody. But, like their Lib-Dem counterparts, they might just have stumbled upon their moment in the sun, and could serve a (one-time?) very useful purpose in attracting the sensible unionist vote (of which there is a lot more than people might imagine. The youth and the sit-at-homes, who last came out for the GFA referendum and have been roused from their slumbers again by Brexit).

            • I think you are onto something with APNI there. I saw someone else (I forget where) say it looks like APNI feel confident of retaining the recent Nationalist boost to their voter base and are looking to scoop up disaffected middle ground Unionist voters. Not sure that would be my strategy heading into a November election, perhaps followed by a December election. Curious to see how it works out for them long term.

              • Maybe but the APNI has also been courting pro-union votes in recent days by pushing back against perceived nationalist talking points or demands. Trying to up it’s unionist-lite credentials. So will those nationalist votes stick with it outside of majority unionist constituencies?

                Notice some in the SDLP are now rejecting the 50%+ criteria for constitutional change to a reunited Ireland as per the GFA.

                Will that be a new political or electoral rallying point for Remainer cultural Catholics and Remainer pro-union Protestants? The basis for an understanding of between the APNI, the Greens and the semi-nationalist Labour contingent of the SDLP?

  4. Looking at the picture of the buffer zone are we really saying that the UK military, Border Force and HM Customs and Excise will have the right operate up to maybe twenty miles or so into the Republic.

    Seems that we are. The GFA’s dead in the water. The IRA disarmed. The British still have all guns they ever had and their surveillance abilities are much more extensive now – and quite frankly it’s their right to put up whatever border they want. Ireland is something you wipe off your shoe. NI is British!

    Folks north and south are just going to have to get used to it. This ain’t pretty politics.

  5. So, instead of one unacceptable border we’re now going to have two, if Trump’s mini-me has his way. Truth is, as Jonathan Powell said on last night’s Newsnight, Johnston et al don’t want an agreement, and are offering this latest tub of shit knowing it will be rejected. The game is about shifting blame to the EU and Ireland in particular.

  6. Maybe it is time to take to the streets. Border poll now.

  7. In their BBC reports on Johnston’s “big idea”, and the central role Stormont is supposed to play in that, neither Laura Kuenssberg (who’s sounding more like a Tory spokesperson every day) nor George Alagiah thought it worth mentioning that Stormont hasn’t sat for almost 3 years.

  8. Of course Stormont hasn’t sat for three years. Who needs Stormont when you have the DUP at the helm with the Tory Brexiteer government in London.
    Ireland will have I suspect a border imposed if the UK leaves. The Union Jack is firmly planted in NI as it will be very soon in Scotland if shitbag Johnson and his chums have their way.
    We’ll all have to learn to sing Rule Britannia and No Surrender and take our medicine. Paddy and Jock need to know their place and if they don’t then woe betide them. Tip, tip!

  9. No sign of any DUP members in the Commons this morning when Johnston addressed the House on his cunning plan. Is this a sign of some concern among the membership and/or elements of their constituency?

  10. Arlene’s “Violet Elizabeth” tantrum yesterday was something to behold. I suspect she might just be feeling stuck between a rock and a hard place at the minute. NI’s businesspeople and farmers were queuing up to condemn Johnston’s cunning plan (which was purposely built to be rejected by the EU, leading to a no deal) with only slightly less vigour than they have railed against the prospect of a no deal.
    No-one in NI is buying Arlene’s transparent “blame Dublin” bullshit. Blame Dublin for what? For rejecting a deal that we in NI wouldn’t touch with a barge-pole ourselves?
    As I said on here before, Peter Robinson would long ago have sniffed the wind, and begun disentangling his party from the Tories. Starting from when the NI referendum result came in. Thankfully, Arlene and Nigel aren’t as smart.

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