This is the real cost/consequences of ripping up the Good Friday agreement an international treaty not the 1 billion bribe to 10 DUP Unions.
We now have to watch with great concern as politicians in London consider policies that would upset the peaceful resolution reached by all sides two decades ago.
From the beginning, the EU has given virtually unqualified support to Ireland’s case that Brexit would bring about upheaval and disruption that threatened the Good Friday Agreement.
We now appear we have a situation that the UK wants a trading deal or no deal while inventing solutions “upstream.”
That means having a negotiation with the UK which, under the terms of Article 50, is not allowed (because the negotiation is only about a Withdrawal deal).
This conveniently ignores the fact that the backstop was enshrined in a negotiated treaty.
It ignores the fact that the Irish protocol was not just about preserving cross-border trade and maintaining alignment on the likes of agrifood rules. It was about preserving the hearts-and-minds achievements of North-South cooperation, reconciliation and the maturing notion of an invisible, irrelevant border.
The Uk as a permanent member of the Security Council, says it abides by and respects the precepts of international law, so it is necessary that Ireland and the EU absolutely insist that the British government has these responsibilities, and these responsibilities do not evaporate in the event of no deal.
The United Kingdom is supposed to be a democratic state as such the Uk most acknowledge that if the UK wants to establish a trade relationship with the EU once the dust of no deal has settled, that the Irish border question will loom large, even as a precondition for talks.
While Brussels can anticipate – and talk about – the volumetrics of the Dover-Calais crossing and try to prepare accordingly on the EU side, the 500km Irish land border, with its 200 crossings, is an entirely different creature.
Take meat exports.
If the UK is a third country, under EU rules any consignments of beef, lamb or poultry would have to come with an EU certificate, from an EU-approved abbatoir, staffed by an EU-registered vet.
There is “no way” the EU can start insisting that Dublin close some of those crossings in the event of no deal. But how are you going to manage if you have a completely porous border with no infrastructure on it?
It’s a contradiction in terms.
We would end up in a situation where EU and Ireland and the UK would have to come together, and in order to honour the commitment to the people of Ireland that there be no hard border, the Uk would have to agree on full alignment on customs and regulations, so after a period of chaos we would perhaps end up where we are now, with a very similar deal.
If not the UK could be hobbled in its future trade deal ambitions if there remains an ambiguous situation in part of its territory. The same issue, it should be said, would be a problem for the EU as well if there was one part of its single market frontier was suspect.
The acrimony and recrimination from a no deal scenario blamed on the backstop will cast the Uk in such a poisonous light that it could take years for the issue to be revisited.
The EU, for now, remains fully supportive of Ireland’s position.
If not resolved there is nothing else for the EU to say other than goodbye.