The reality of a Brexit border in the Irish Sea is ‘not a small point of detail’

The EU is threatening legal action against the UK, accusing Boris Johnson of breaking the trade agreement, writes John Rentoul

Friday 05 March 2021 12:20
comments
<p>The dispute between the UK and the EU over Northern Ireland trade cannot be waved away</p>

The dispute between the UK and the EU over Northern Ireland trade cannot be waved away

Tony Blair got it right long ago. On 9 June 2016, two weeks before the Brexit referendum, he spoke alongside John Major in Derry in Northern Ireland. Long before most people had understood the problem, he tried to set it out as clearly as he could.

“You would have to end up either having border controls and customs checks on the border between north and south, between the Republic of Ireland and the UK … and the problems of doing that are absolutely immense, but the only alternative would then be to have them between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, which would plainly be unacceptable as well. So this is not a small point of detail,” he said.

Five years later it remains very far from being a small point of detail. The EU has threatened legal action against the UK government after Boris Johnson unilaterally extended transition arrangements to allow easier movement of goods between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments