, 17 tweets, 9 min read Read on Twitter
So. @BorisJohnson and Downing Street spinners are being SO misleading about the status of an impending #Brexit 'deal' with Ireland on the border - and the concept of all-Irish move on agricultural alignment for 'SPS'.

So...here is some debunkery.

@BorisJohnson First...evidence of the spin machine...which is filtering into the work of esteemed colleagues..like @iainmartin1 @SebastianEPayne

For example...this readout of @BorisJohnson
statement to House y'day. /2

@BorisJohnson @iainmartin1 @SebastianEPayne And this @reactionlife piece by @iainmartin1 who says kind words about me - and reports on the wounded 'fury' of Number 10 about my story this week on the lack of progress on a deal which (apparently) totally overlooked the behind-the-scenes 'progress' being made. Mmm /3
@BorisJohnson @iainmartin1 @SebastianEPayne @reactionlife Here is the headline: "Number 10 plotting Irish border deal with Dublin to replace the backstop"

Govt spox says it is "simply not true" that progress isn't being made, that the Irish are listening (Johnson in Dublin next week) and SPS gambit settles "90%" of issues./4
@BorisJohnson @iainmartin1 @SebastianEPayne @reactionlife Wrong. Wrong & wrong.

The No 10 spinners are using the Irish visit and people's ignorance of SPS/border to create the impressions of 'progress'....but they are being totally dishonest.

Let's start with the Irish visit. /5
The Irish are very clear that they will not negotiate bilaterally with the UK. Irish sources are very, very clear: "there is no plotting". This has been made clear.

Some facts. Johnson and Varadkar have spoken twice. Once in late July and again on Aug 19. /6
The issue of meeting was broached on Aug 19 call. Diaries were sorted. Hence Sept 9. It is 'crystal' clear to Mr Johnson the Irish are not holding a negotiation here. /7
FWIW, and for context, the 19th call came after an attempt to murder PSNI officers in Fermanagh and I understand that the Taoiseach @LeoVaradkar referred to that attack - a reminder of rising instability in Ireland. /8

@LeoVaradkar Next. The assertion that an all-Ireland SPS agreement "would deal with about 90% of the issues, in terms of checks required,” says a government source.

This is baloney. Total and utter rubbish. And they know it. The real figure is around 30% /9
@LeoVaradkar I went and asked someone who knows about this stuff to explain why. So here's some observations:

1. All-Ireland SPS alignment does away with the need for checks on goods of animal origin at the border. That means you do need Border inspection post or "BIPS"...so tick. BUT.../10
@LeoVaradkar It does NOT do away with the need to make customs declarations on those goods or to pay tariffs (eg. 30% tariff on lamb) - and the need for inspections and enforcement related to those declarations. PROBLEM /11
@LeoVaradkar It also does not address all the other aspects of a "fully open" border covered in Irish Protocol

- Customs,
- North - South cooperation
- data adequacy
- citizens rights

So it's just total rubbish to say SPS = 90% issues solved. /12
@LeoVaradkar As a sidenote, SPS alignment also raises questions of EU judicial autonomy...since aligning with EU rules on SPS (phytosanitary standards) raises the question of how EU legal autonomy (right for the EU to ajudicate on its own laws) is preserved. /13
@LeoVaradkar What's going on here?

The Government is trying to give ANY impression of 'progress' when it has not put forward ANY substantive, workable proposal to deliver an alternative to the backstop. /14
@LeoVaradkar So no-one should be fooled by the spin.

I am NOT saying it would not be a positive start/step...but it's not magic bullet, not least since even the government says nothing would be operable for 3 years at earliest. (That was message delivered in Brussels this week.) /15
@LeoVaradkar The last point is the scepticism I hear from experts about 'disaggregating' the backstop...the entire package has to work to deliver a border...SPS isn't hermetically sealed issue, it bleeds into other files. That's why the darned Irish protocol is there. /16
@LeoVaradkar All of which is to say - longwinded as ever, apols - that people need to be wary about the politically convenient platitudes being pumped out by a government that is, frankly, acting in desperation at the moment. 17/ENDS
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