, 14 tweets, 4 min read Read on Twitter
NEW: Right. Will there, or will there not be a border in Northern Ireland in the event of a 'no deal' #brexit?

Today HMRC is holding conversations with NI business groups on what happens. I have copy of the talking points handed out. What do we learn? 1/Thread
It's all based on the UK Government's communication from March 12 on how it would handle a 'no deal'....known in Brussels as the 'smugglers' charter' - it is summarised in the talking points thus: /2

So the UK is committed to having no checks for stuff going from Republic to the North....which begs the questions set out here in the talking points paper.

What happens if people abuse the border? How does that work? It's a gaping hole.... /3
So I asked a leading NI business chief how he saw it going down. How long the UK could maintain this "temporary" zero-checks regime, or 'intelligence-led' approach to checks.

To summarise, he was sceptical. Here's what he said. /4
"Intelligence tells HMRC currently that known smuggler X is laundering fuel. They send in the HRMC with a full Tactical Support Group as protection to check his sheds. Same thing happens when they search corners shops in the Bogside for fake/illegally imported cigarettes... /5
The point is: "Intelligence tells you something is astray, but it takes a battle group to check."

So how long can UKG turn a blind eye, to avoid those kind of frictions? /6
Not long. Another example for said biz chief.

"Beef comes up from Dundalk [in South], swap lorry cabs in Newry [in North]. How do you tell if it’s not from Dungannon when it arrives in Larne? You can’t unless you’re checking the documents, the loads. /7
So the result is: "all our firms have to complete paperwork, be delayed, assumed as criminal.

"It’s an Irish Sea Border worse than the backstop." /8
Or put another way: "The 'we'll do nothing for 12 months [after a no deal Brexit'] is nonsense, they’ll have to check everything."

Doesn't sound good. Sounds pretty much like a border, all told. /9
Which if you listen carefully is what @MichelBarnier said to MEPs today....

"The Commission is ready to make additional resources available to Ireland, technical and financial, to address any additional challenges."

No mention of legal derogations. /10
@MichelBarnier "There will be no hard border", he says, but then adds "Because of course we have to respect the Single Market, but also out of respect for the British internal market, there are going to have to be checks carried out somewhere."

So a border that's not called a border. /11
@MichelBarnier Which, as so often with Brexit brings us back to where we started. As the HMRC talking points document says:

"In the event of no deal, the Government would seek an open discussion about the border with the European Commission and Irish Government as soon as possible." /12
@MichelBarnier What does that mean? Negotiating a form of the backstop in the event of a 'no deal'?

Ah, well ask that question and you get more semantics. /13
@MichelBarnier As one source tells me.

I don't think we'd call it a backstop, but of course all the issues we know so well just re-present themselves.

Same old, same old. 14/ENDS
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