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Thread by @pmdfoster: "The Nigel Dodds interview on Brexit and the Customs Union issue is worth reading in full...it takes us to heart of problem for May/UK. A qui […]" #Brexit

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The Nigel Dodds interview on #Brexit and the Customs Union issue is worth reading in full...it takes us to heart of problem for May/UK. A quick thread. /1

conservativehome.com/highlights/201…
First point: Dodds is adamant there must be an 'all-UK solution' - so he threatens to bring down Govt if Northern Ireland gets left *on its own* in the Customs Union, while UK is free to diverge. BUT he doesn't totally rule all of UK staying in customs union. /2
Dodds's forceful articulation of DUP red line appears to close off one of the obvious areas of 'give' in the Customs Union conundrum - increased checks on goods between UK mainland and Northern Ireland. Unless someone calls DUP bluff. /3
Recall that there are already some checks on goods between UK and NI - on fertiliser and some animal issues.

EU sources argue that the UK - if it does wants to diverge - can simply augment these. Even if all UK stays in CU, but diverges on regulations, this wd still be case. /4
I wrote a piece December looking at why this would be more practical than such checks on the North-South border. For business and security reasons. /5

telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/11/2…
And in practice, given NI devolution and UK wishes to diverge (on whatever basis) such augmented checks are probably unavoidable. CU member 'helps' (per Barnier) but clearly doesn't obviate all needs for checks. Not by any means /6
As Peter Mandelson, a former NI secretary - and a good one - has warned, the DUP forcing a return to a North-South border risks increasing long-term pressure among NI public to choose reunification over the return of a N-S border. /7
Mr Dodds argues that @theresa_may should rather call Dublin's bluff - force them to accept UK leaving CU/SM and then get serious about the 'maximum facilitation' arrangements UK has suggested to avoid border issues. /8
As we reported last week, these have been given short shrift by the EU so far.

And a leaked letter last night from head of NI Civil Service (written a week after UK customs paper was delivered in Aug 2017) shows the ideas were always a stretch. /9

telegraph.co.uk/politics/2018/…
The complexity of managing the divergence is clear, from this NI civil service flow chart that was leaked in same document dump. /10
It seems as if, per reports, Mrs May is still flogging one of the UK's two options - a Customs Partnership/MaxFac - to avoid the customs union dilemma.

The EU is clear the UK needs to move. "Something has to give".

UK-NI border is likely to have part to play in that. ENDS
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