Because of the devious negotiating tactics of the EU and the gullibility (or duplicity?) of our Prime Minister no discussion of a future FTA has taken place. At least two years wasted; it could be almost ready to go, or at the least the shape would be clear, were it not for the artificial staging of negotiations. The lack of goodwill is obvious. Meanwhile the Irish Government is fragile and playing to nationalist causes. Its predecessor under Enda Kenny was actively making preparations to minimise border disruption with officials on both sides discretely making contact.
Varadkar abandoned all that, but Ireland will get shafted when the Commission has made full use of his intransigence. The Commission is already telling Ireland that it will have to erect a ‘hard’ border if the UK doesn’t comply with its appalling demands. Next it will ‘harmonise’ corporate taxation to level the field. Ireland would be better off being as nice to Britain as possible – how about a UK/Ireland Customs Union and/or Single Market?
OK, Varadkar has mentioned a ‘special customs union’ between the EU and UK but on the totally unacceptable lines of the arrangement with Turkey . This is a ‘lobby’ for countries waiting to join, not leave; in Turkey’s case they might never do either. It’s probably where Corbyn’s latest plan would get us.
 Shorties-16: Associate Membership (C)
Trimble or Tremble?
David Trimble (an architect of the Good Friday Agreement) is suing the UK Government because entrapping Northern Ireland (NI) is a reversal of the Good Friday Agreement (GFA).“The Good Friday Agreement was about dealing with constitutional issues, ending terrorism and bringing peace, not economic matters,” he says and it contains “only a passing reference to the EU.”
How about a UK-EU FTA? There are plenty of examples to choose from: Canada, NZ, Japan. The EU has awarded Mutual Recognition status to the standards of these countries and they remain free to set their own. Why not for the UK then? Our regulations are identical with theirs now so there is no immediate problem. If we decide to import chlorinated chicken and hormone-injected beef from the USA later both sides will need to look at this. But similar issues exist in theory for the others. The EU is being deliberately obstructive for (malign) political reasons, not for economic good.
The EU may wish to make Brexit a nightmare to discourage the others but that is a sign of the fundamental weakness of the EU project – countries shouldn’t be made to stay, they should want to because of all the lovely benefits. Admittedly some other unhappy members don’t trust their own governments to improve their situation outside the Union but we British should (though its getting harder).
The EU is demanding that the Irish border be either totally unnecessary or totally secure. The first option can be achieved by the UK remaining in the Customs Union and Single Market, the second has never been achieved anywhere in the world with a border softer than Alcatraz. Neither extreme is necessary.
Today an estimated 25% of cigarettes smoked in Eire are smuggled, smuggling is an Irish tradition that won’t vanish with or without a deal the EU likes. Standard procedures and technology can be used to reduce the extra, black-economy opportunities arising from the UK leaving the CU/SM. This was confirmed by a report the European Parliament commissioned .
The EU has ‘weaponised’ the border issue for political reasons. This is a cynical act which confirms what it really means by ‘European values’: any means is justified to protect and advance the Project’s goals, including risk to citizen lives.
 Smart Border 2.0 “Avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland for Customs control and the free movement of persons”. Downloadable from here: