Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Irish Question ...

The Economist is right about this ...

I have driven over the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland on a fair number of occasions.

There is absolutely nothing to mark that border. The only thing that tells you that you have crossed into a different country is that the speed limit signs change, with units in miles to on one side and KM on the other. There are no fences, no border posts, no customs, in many places not even a Welcome to Great Britain or Welcome to Ireland sign.

At the moment Britain and Ireland have a common travel zone which largely works, and is made possible because Britain and Ireland are both in the EU but neither is in the Schengen agreement area. Essentially Britain and Ireland jointly police that travel zone.

Both sides in the present EU referendum have said some exaggerated, implausible or ridiculous things. But in terms of promises to the voters which are completely incompatible, one of the most completely incredible things said by either side is that Leave are simultaneously promising to "Take control of our borders" and promising the residents of both parts of Ireland that they are not going to introduce border controls along what would become the UK's land border with the EU.

I cannot understand how the Leave campaign can expect anyone in their right mind to believe both these promises, unless they are going to start introducing border controls between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK instead.

How can you possibly promise Britain will "take control of our borders" by leaving the EU when what would become our border with the EU has no controls of any kind and anyone can just walk across it with no passport or ID whatsoever?

If the Leave campaign are telling the truth when they say they do not intend to introduce border controls in Ireland then this leaves a gaping hold in their policies on migration and border control which renders every word they have said on those subjects undeliverable. All an EU citizen who wants to come to the UK would have to do is catch a plane to Dublin and a bus to Belfast.

If the Leave campaign are telling the truth when they say they want to take control of our borders, then the border controls affecting Northern Ireland following a "Leave" vote will be an economic and social catastrophe for that part of the UK.

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