We can leave the Customs Union under May's deal, after we've had a Border Poll

Home Affairs
Monday, March 18, 2019
Jonathan Stanley


The Good Friday Agreement is contingent on membership of the European Union. That agreement that paves the way for a United Ireland mentions very clearly this enterprise rests on the premise both the UK and RoI are EU members. So when we Brexit this creates a challenge. On the one hand once we leave then Northern Ireland would effectively have to rejoin the EU or EEA to restore the status quo ante required for such a merger to be economically seamless. Otherwise the people "did not know what they were voting for" in 1998 so the argument may go.

Turn it around. The people of Northern Ireland must always be able to choose which country they are members of. This means Northern Ireland can only ever leave the Customs Union if it specifically rejects reunification. And therein lies the real reason for the Irish backstop, to ensure economic harmonisation required for a United Ireland.

So we will not be leaving any customs union May's deal ties us into until we have Border poll. End of story. No question about it. Given the way the EU has driven negotiations so far you'd have to be a complete idiot to believe they wouldn't try this stunt and we can see why.

There have been many surreal moments in the last two years. One has to be Dominic Raab admitting he had not read the Good Friday Agreement in full going as far as to say,

"It's not like a novel. You don't sit down and say "do you know what? Over the holidays this is a cracking"

But it is. And if it weren't it is 35 pages long. In those pages lies the text that specifies it works on the basis of EU membership and that the people of Northern Ireland will be the ones who decide which country to be a part of. 

Is it so hard to argue the UK leaving the EU, uncoupling and diverging economically from the EU, does not violate the GFA if the people of Northern Ireland are not given first refusal on joining the RoI within the Customs Union before the UK as a whole leaves?

Is it so hard to argue the RoI has a veto on any free trade agreement the UK signs with the EU without which we would not unilaterally leave under the Vienna Convention or any other confection Downing Street and too clever by far Brexiteers would like to dream up?

This deal I'm afraid is a one way trap. Some say we should back it if May resigns. Well she'll be gone by 2022 anyway, likely much earlier and worse she'll go after she's achieved the destruction of the Tory party electorally and signed away our birth right for a mess of potage. Maybe she has a cushy job at the IMF sorted out already; it would hardly be a surprise if she had.

Such a deal by the ERG is repeating the history of the battle of Hastings. To make haste and break defensive formation, to charge down the hill into a hail of arrows and be wiped out. Don't worry they said at the time. We Saxons will be back for another go. It never came. 

If some MPs don't realise they are being thrown the red meat for distraction then we are well on our way to fully automated, 21st century vassalage. We are also on the way to losing Ulster with the same level of arrogance and ignorance as well lost the South. 

Today's headlines reveal the DUP are considering backing the deal in exchange for a place at trade talks. This would be not so much new lamps for old but handing over the family car for a busted light bulb. There will be no trade talks. There will instead be the weasel grin of Leo Varadkar looking across at them with only two words for the DUP to chew on.

"Dublin's won"

It is Game Set and Match. The only way to ensure this does not happen is to ensure by no mechanism do we leave any risk of being trapped with the EU calling the shots. If there was not two but only one cyanide laced Smartie in the tube, would any parent let their child risk it?

There is a poisoned Smartie in this Withdrawal Agreement. That it is slightly less likely to kill the Union than before is not a risk any Unionist should take. For as long as Dublin holds a veto over the UK's future economic well being and independence who seriously thinks they will let us go without rediscovering the smallprint of the Good Friday Agreement.

If Arlene Foster or Nigel Dodds are reading this take note. The withdrawal agreement is the final keyturn for triggering a Border poll. That is what will be discussed at future trade talks that you are demanding a ring side seat for. Best of British, while you still are.

Of course as we are told so often, Scotland voted to remain in the EU. The European Parliament now plans to keep open an office in Scotland post Brexit to "assist EU nationals". Given my involvement in the 2014 referendum campaign I am in no doubt the EU will be ready again to give succour to nationalists wishing to break up the UK. Again, the price of leaving the WA? A second Scottish referendum. The legislation in Scottish Parliament is already on place to call for a Section 30 order to trigger this. They have all their ducks in a row.

In the early 1990s people forget just how partisan the European Community was in recognising Slovenia and Croatia as independent and offering Montenegro cash to endorce an earlier plan to dismember Yugoslavia. To blazenly drive wedges between nations is old hat for Brussels and given the existential threat to the EU the UK poses, disuniting the Union seems a very sound business plan or battle plan depending on your view point. 

We have very little time to respond to these threats to the UK's future. 

The answer is simple. 

Just Say No Withdrawal Agreement.