Monday 21 August 2017

Brexit and borders: a fantasy

One of the reasons our economy is being subjected to death by Brexit is, Theresa May and the Leave fanatics keep telling us, so that we can ‘take control of our borders’.

If we are foolish enough to leave the EU, the only land frontier between the UK and the EU will be the one between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. And how do the Brexiters propose to ‘take control’ of this border? By getting rid of it.

So while the Brexiters will proclaim they have slain the bete noire of Freedom of Movement in March 2019, any EU citizen who wants to enter the UK will simply have to go to the Irish Republic. Then they can take a bus, train, car, bicycle or just walk across the border into Northern Ireland and the UK is their oyster.

I heard some hapless government spokesman on the radio conceding that this was all true but saying it didn’t matter because the EU migrant would be detected by the authorities as soon as they tried to take a job or to rent a flat.

He wasn’t asked why then do we pay out millions and force people to wait in long queues to have their passports checked at Heathrow, other airports, ferry ports etc.

The Brexiters promised we could ‘take control’ of our borders but still have free movement between Northern Ireland and the Republic. (Anything else would probably wreck Northern Ireland's economy and its peace process.) Fourteen months after the referendum they still have no credible plan as to how this is to be achieved. 

And even if they had, there is no guarantee it would be acceptable to the EU.

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