Appeasement over the Irish Border issue

Mrs May is being duped by the European Commission about the significance of the Irish border post-Brexit.  In fact, she and the UK are in danger now of continuing down a path to a tragedy for Britain uncannily like the tragedy agreed to by another Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, 80 years ago these very days.

Exactly 80 years ago, in the House of Commons debate of 5th to 6th October 1938 on the Munich Agreement negotiated by the then Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, with the leader of the predominant European power Germany, Winston Churchill declared that “we have suffered a total and unmitigated defeat”. He was heard in virtual silence.  Apart from his small band of supporters, the Conservative Party, the press and the public at large were full of praise for and much relief at the Agreement, any Agreement in fact.

This summer, as in 1938, a British Prime Minister has scurried back and forth to the Continent seeking a solution to a totally manufactured problem – in 1938 it was the alleged threat posed to European peace by three million Germans domiciled in Czechoslovakia – in 2018 it is the alleged threat to the EU’s “single market” posed by an imaginary “hard border” between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, a border which accounts for less than 1% of EU-UK goods trade.

The EU claim that a tariff-free trade agreement (like the Canada-EU or Korea-EU agreements) would somehow require either a customs border in the Irish Sea or the UK would have to remain in the Customs Union to avert this non-problem is laughably preposterous. In fact, several other industrial countries have already implemented major elements of so-called frictionless borders, as described in the EU Parliament’s own admirable report Smart Borders 2.0.

For the British side to contemplate yet another appeasing scheme, risks repeating, albeit on a different stage, the tragedy of September 1938.  Does Mrs May wish to be bracketed with Neville Chamberlain? To ensure this does not happen Parliament should remember the EU Council’s own March 31st 2017 statement of negotiating principles which states (paragraph 2) that “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed”. There is still all to play for if we hold our nerve.

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