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Saturday Sound-off: Blather About Borders and #Brexit

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Blather is an old Scots word ultimately derived from an earlier Scandinavian word for chatter or prattle. I could have used any one of many words to denote the nonsense that is still being uttered by British politicians who want the UK to leave the EU. I was tempted to use a crude reference to bovine excrement or an equally unsavoury noun usually associated with a certain part of the male anatomy that comes by the pair.

I caught a segment of the ‘Tonight‘ programme on Irish television earlier in the week in which Sir Jeffrey Donaldson was taking part. Asked what was his problem with the Single Market and the Customs Union, he asserted that they prevent the UK negotiating trade deals with non-EU countries, deals which he was sure would benefit Northern Ireland businesses. When it was pointed out that most of those countries, including those who are members of the Commonwealth, prefer to deal with the UK as part of the much larger EU market, he responded by saying he had recently returned from Egypt where he led a trade mission from Northern Ireland, securing lucrative contracts for Northern Ireland businesses.

I felt like shouting at the screen: “membership of the EU didn’t prevent you doing that, then!”

Also this week, Channel 4 News asked a random sample of English people to mark the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic on a map of the island. The results were astonishing, showing that most people have no idea that, for example, the most northern point of the island, Malin Head, is in the Republic. Britons frequently refer to Northerrn Ireland as “Ulster” – I used to do it myself but have carefully avoided doing so in this post. The fact is that the ancient Irish province of Ulster includes Donegal which is in the Republic, to the west of Northern Ireland.

But whilst this week’s controversy has been concentrated on the land border between the UK and the EU, and the implications for the Northern Ireland peace process of any reinstatement of a border between the two parts of the island of Ireland, no-one ought to lose sight of the UK’s east and south coasts with their many ports, from Aberdeen to Southampton, all of which handle traffic between the UK and continental Europe and all of which will need some degree of additional policing if the “best deal for Britain” that David Davis is so eager to achieve falls short of the existing arrangements. And then there are the 16 regional airports*, as well as Heathrow, Gatwick and Stanstead.

I am only an ordinary citizen, although I did once dabble in local politics and even stood as a candidate for the European parliament, but I cannot comprehend how anyone could imagine that any “deal” could be better than the one we already have. I make no apology for repeating again what I said before the referendum, here, and, afterwards, here, and have continued to say in the period since.

As this comprehensive Facebook post from Jon Danzig at Reasons2Remain makes clear, the months of uncertainty, negotiations, and costly preparations that the UK has been forced to endure, and will continue to endure through the proposed two year “transition period”, are utterly pointless if the deal that is struck at the end of the process looks anything like the one we already have. And, if it doesn’t, then businesses that rely on fast freight transfers between the UK and EU will be hampered and their customers, the citizens of Britain, will pay the price.

*For anyone interested the 16 are, in alphabetical order, Birmingham; Blackpool; Bournemouth; Bristol; Cardiff; East Midlands; Exeter; Humberside; Leeds Bradford; Liverpool; Luton; Manchester; Newcastle; Norwich; and Teesside.

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7 Comments

  1. Clive says:

    Brexit will destroy the UK, it’s as simple as that. The longer it goes on, the clearer it becomes that the UK government is clueless and will end up leaving with no significant deal as politicians on all sides in the UK play games with our lives. And even if by some miracle we get close to a deal that might be the ‘least worst’ option, it could well be stymied by the Irish border question. Who in their right mind thought it was a good idea to let politicians in NI and Eire loose on that one again? Total lack of forethought, reaping the sowing of seeds that were scattered anywhere and were then lost to the winds of politics.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. franklparker says:

    Indeed, Clive. But what can we do to stop it? We certainly need campaigns like Reasons2Remain, but will people be prepared to take to the streets to make their voices heard – and how will the UKIP fraternity react if they do?

    Like

  3. Whenever there’s lots of money involved, divorce is a messy business where the weaker partner usually loses.
    With regards to the Irish border, I foresee a lucrative contraband trade.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sha'Tara says:

      Yeah, watch those coracles bobbing on the waves bound for Brittany with all that contraband… Maybe I should be going back home, get back into the old family business… 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • franklparker says:

        Ha Ha! Lovely image. The reality of Rosaliene’s comment is that there are many routes across the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic. There is more that one property that straddles the border – farmers drive their cattle from a meadow in the Republic to one in ‘The North’ and vice-versa. Plenty of opportunity for evading customs!

        Like

      • Sha'Tara says:

        Hard to believe that, considering one of the longest borders between two countries, Canada and the US is watched/scrutinized by satellite, mounted cameras and helicopters 24/7 and the only way to smuggle is to try to fool customs at crossing points. You’d think that being an island and so small “they” would have Ireland bottled up tighter than a drum skin but maybe you don’t live under the sort of manufactured paranoia that infects (and infests) the United Security States of America. I’m not quite sure what sort of threat Canada represents with 1/10 the population and essentially no military but the story must be sold and the sale reinforced visually! I wonder if we too will qualify for a “beautiful biggly” border wall soon? Probably not as we are still mostly white, speak English and are either Christian or pretending. Getting snarky… quitting now.

        Like

  4. […] wonder the question of the border between the two parts of the island is a deal breaking issue in the negotiations over […]

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