A typical Ireland/UK Customs Clearance House

Once, twice, three times a border

(Last Updated On: 1st October 2019)

That is the big idea from the UK government as a solution to the Ireland/UK border after Brexit. Here’s a quick rundown of how it is proposed to work:

  1. The UK will set up “customs clearing houses,” definitely not customs houses. Anyone who says that is just spreading Project Fear. These will be set up at distances of between 5 and 10 miles from the border proper. So they cannot be called border infrastructure because they’re not on the border, although they will be performing the function of border customs posts.
  2. Hope that Ireland will do the same.
  3. As goods shipments arrive at the clearance houses they will be checked and manifested, or they could be fast tracked if they were pre-cleared. So some nice delays here. Again expect Ireland to do the same.
  4. This bit is the best bit. Each consignment is sent into the de-structuralised zone (a zone 10-20 miles wide either side of the border in which no border structures are permitted.) Tracking of the consignments will be performed by GPS or mobile phones or something. When the shipment gets to the end of the de-structuralised zone (DSZ – pronounced Dee-Ess-Zee) some other bit of technology will ping someone that the tariff is now due. Oh, and hope that Ireland does the same.

So far, so vague and unattainable. Bear in mind that the DSZ and all of it’s infrastructure, processes and procedures need to be in place in 31 days. Does anyone believe that the Conservative and Unionist Party of the United Kingdom can achieve that? They can’t even organise a parliamentary recess for their conference. Mind you, I don’t suppose that most party members will notice, they’ll be too busy sexually touching the totty.

There are a couple of wee niggles with Dominic Cumming’s plan (let’s not delude ourselves that the acting Prime Minister is capable of original thought). Three wee niggles actually. There will effectively be three borders; one on the UK side, one on the Irish side and the Irish border itself. The DSZ will exist between the two outer borders (assuming that Ireland wishes to get involved in this faerie tale). The border infrastructure will eventually be built and bang, literally bang, it will all become a target for people opposed to hard borders.

The infrastructure will then need to be protected. Step in PSNI to uphold the rule of law and protect the border infrastructure which isn’t border infrastructure because it isn’t on the border. Then bang, literally bang, the police will be the target. Who will protect them?

Cue the UK armed forces, patrolling the DSZ and protecting the police who are protecting the border infrastructure. And bang, we’ve gone back 21 years. The Good Friday Agreement will be burned on the streets and the peace, such as it is, will be destroyed. I can’t see too many folk on the island of Ireland voting for that, and a vote there will be. The DUP will be the Northern Irish party who will be trying to persuade the people of the province that Dom’s Deal is a good idea. Mind you, going back 21 years probably isn’t enough for the DUP. They would rather go back 329 years.

Anyway, that’s the goods sorted out, but what about the livestock? Oh and the people, although they are one and the same to most Tories. I guess we will just have to wait for the good news to arrive.

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