Boris Johnson’s Irish Border Plan: Move The Border

Written by SK Ashby

If the United Kingdom exits the European Union in a no-deal Brexit, that would lead to the return of a hard border in Ireland. That is to say that freedom of movement between Ireland and Northern Ireland would cease as goods and people looking to cross the border would have to pass through customs.

Former Prime Minister Theresa May's solution was the so-called "backstop" that would preserve the single market and freedom of movement in Ireland even if it's not preserved for the rest of the United Kingdom.

May's critics including current Prime Minister Boris Johnson himself called May's deal unacceptable and have demanded that the backstop be removed because it would keep parts of the UK wed to the European Union for the foreseeable future. It wouldn't be a true Brexit if freedom of movement is preserved, you see?

With all of that said, Boris Johnson has finally begun to privately detail his own proposal and in few words as possible, it calls for moving the customs border back from the real border.

The British proposal would place clearance centers, effectively customs posts, between 5-10 miles (8-16 km) ‘back’ from and on each side of the border, RTE Europe Editor Tony Connelly said on Twitter.

Connelly reported that the details came from technical papers, or so-called “non-papers”, sent from London to Brussels, of which he had seen extracts.

Citing sources, British newspaper The Daily Telegraph reported the clearance centers were part of new proposals British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to present to EU officials this week. [...]

But simply moving any checks away from the border has long been rejected by Dublin and Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney quickly dismissed the reported proposal.

“Non-Paper = Non-Starter. Time the EU had a serious proposal from the UK Govt if a Brexit deal is to be achievable in October. NI and IRE deserves better!” Coveney said on Twitter after the RTE report.

Assuming the European Union including its member Ireland will formally reject Johnson's proposal, it remains to be seen what Johnson will do next, but I expect he will cast himself as a victim of Big Europe and double-down on his pledge to crash out of the EU at the end of the month.

But maybe I'm wrong. Maybe the EU will accept this proposal, but it doesn't look very likely right now. Ireland's foreign minister immediately shot it down on Twitter and it's there's one thing I've learned about Irish Twitter it's that they don't mess around.

If Irish Twitter tells you to get fucked, you should plan on it.