A very good and pithy summary of why the Northern Ireland border has been so problematic when determining our post-Brexit relationship with the EU.
In the end, the UK has to choose - continued alignment with the EU (when we don’t have a say on the rules) OR checks on goods from GB to NI or checks on trade between NI and RoI. None of those options are great but this is an inescapable consequence of Brexit.
For too long, this issue was ignored or dismissed by too many, with hopes of ‘alternative arrangements’ solving the problem. Theresa May went for alignment (at least on a temporary basis) & lost her job. Johnson went for GB to NI checks. But now appears to be reneging on that.
So if it’s not alignment & it’s not GB to NI checks, that leaves checks on NI/RoI trade. In the eyes of the EU & the US (not to mention UK law enforcement and security agencies) this would undermine the NI peace process. Getting FTAs with either the EU or US would be impossible.

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More from @DavidGauke

19 Sep
We had the “day 1 the German carmakers will demand a deal” stage. Then the “if they know we’d walk away, we’ll get what we want” stage. We’re still in “they’ll cave in the last few days” stage but prepare for “if we just hold our nerve, we’ll get what we want next year” stage.
At each stage, there is the confident assertion that the absence of an FTA will hurt the EU more than it will hurt the UK, that the EU’s position (‘protecting the integrity of the Single Market’) misunderstands the EU’s best interests & that the EU is bluffing.
Tbf there was similar misplaced confidence in advance of the Cameron re-negotiation that the EU would be more flexible on freedom of movement of people.
Brexiteers can argue that this inflexibility is why should leave (I don’t agree but it’s a respectable argument). But ...
Read 4 tweets
13 Sep
Brandon Lewis said of the Internal Market Bill “this does break international law”. Not “it creates the potential to break international law” or “we might break it in an emergency but we’re not yet breaking it”. He said “this does break international law”.
If taking the power to override a treaty is in itself a breach of international law (which is implicit in what Brandon Lewis said), additional safeguards on the exercise of any such power (such as requiring a Commons vote) doesn’t stop it being a breach of international law.
Sir Jonathan Jones’ email to GLD officials says that ‘certain provisions of the Bill ... are contrary to the Withdrawal Agreement with the EU’. (He also uses the phrase ‘notwithstanding the breach of international law’.) So his view is that taking the powers is itself a breach. Image
Read 6 tweets
3 Sep
I fear this is a realistic assessment of the likelihood of a UK/EU deal from the well-placed @JGForsyth. The EU has moved on state aid but the UK has not reciprocated. More likely than not that we leave without a deal. thetimes.co.uk/article/johnso…
The thinking is that we need flexibility over state aid not to support existing industries like car-manufacturing but to build are own tech sector.
But without a robust state aid regime how does the Government resist lots of industries demanding subsidies? And...
... how confident are we that the Govt would be successful in picking winners in the tech sector? (Tbh, I’d say ‘not very’).
And is the Govt really willing to say to car workers etc ‘sorry you’ve lost your jobs but it’s a price worth paying so that we can help tech companies?’
Read 7 tweets
23 Aug
Interesting piece by @ShippersUnbound on the attitude inside No 10 to a no deal Brexit. Rings true and highlights the reality that the risk of a no deal Brexit is under-priced. thetimes.co.uk/article/covid-…
Some have argued that the Government is more likely to agree to a deal because they’re vulnerable to the accusation that not getting a deal would constitute incompetence. But I think most of their supporters will buy the argument that it’s the EU’s fault.
I don’t think the UK govt is bluffing when it says it’s prepared to walk away without a deal. But I don’t think the EU position is as a consequence of misunderstanding the UK position. The EU won’t give UK good access to its markets without protection from unfair competition.
Read 5 tweets
1 Aug
My latest piece on @ConHome on state aid, Brexit and the changing nature of the Conservative Party. To get a deal with the EU, at the very least the UK will need a robust & independent state aid regime. But is that what the red wall voters will want? /1 conservativehome.com/thecolumnists/…
As @pmdfoster reported this week, Dominic Cummings is leading the push for a minimalist state aid regime, saying once you have left the EU “you should just do whatever you want”. And red wall voters would favour an interventionist approach. /2
Backing national champions & supporting businesses in the red wall might be popular, but it risks wasting taxpayers money & distorting the allocation of resources. Rishi Sunak should be making the case forcefully for a robust state aid regime. /3
Read 6 tweets
6 Jul
When there was a big reform of SDLT in December 2014, the measures took effect at midnight on the day of announcement because we were worried about the consequences of any delay on the market.
This created a bit of a Parliamentary problem because we needed to pass an SI on the day after the Autumn Statement but we couldn't announce that there'd be an SI on the floor of the House until after the Autumn Statement (announcing the SDLT reforms) had been delivered.
It was my job to go and see Speaker Bercow in advance of the Autumn Statement to say that we needed Parliamentary time on Thursday to pass an SI on a subject matter that I couldn't tell him about and that we couldn't tell anyone that we were even doing an SI until Wednesday.
Read 5 tweets

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