The risk of a failure of the Brexit negotiations “exists”. In an interview with the German Magazine Der Spiegel, the head of EU negotiations, Michel Barnier, said that he was particularly concerned about the negotiations on the future border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.
In the meantime, today, Former Prime Minister Sir John Major has warned that a hard border in Ireland will be unavoidable unless Brexiters start to take on board the “collateral damage” that exiting the EU will cause in Northern Ireland. He said that the words “customs union” had become “toxic” and that efforts to find an alternative solution to the border amounted to “limp promises”.
The Guardian reported that the Conservative former prime minister said that Brexiters needed to understand that unless the UK stays in a customs union and has regulatory alignment with the EU, checks will be required for food, animals and animal feed by law. “If so, a physical border seems unavoidable,” he said. “And, since the border winds through over 300 miles of countryside, this may require a number of border posts to be erected. “No doubt many goods can be cleared in some invisible, frictionless way – as yet unidentified – but not all. Some, such as animals and animal feed, which cross the border every hour of every day, will probably have to be examined for health and safety reasons in order to avoid infections and diseases.” “I don’t believe for a moment that the British government wishes to hurt Ireland: far from it. I simply observe that preventing collateral damage to Irish interests doesn’t appear to feature prominently in the concerns of those who press for Brexit.”
Major conceded that the customs union does have downsides but that these are “heavily exaggerated”. He said the Irish border question was “much more than a political squabble” between Brexiters and remainers, rather it was “a battle for the future direction of a policy that will affect all the people of the UK and the Republic of Ireland”.
Sources : The Guardian, Der Spiegel