Saturday 16 December 2017

Border issue means that customs union must stay

The deadline for an outline deal is looming as British politicians continue to fudge the major issues of Brexit, writes Colm McCarthy

Issues: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar outlines Ireland’s key concerns over Britain’s Brexit plans during his speech at Queen’s University in Belfast. Picture: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Issues: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar outlines Ireland’s key concerns over Britain’s Brexit plans during his speech at Queen’s University in Belfast. Picture: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Colm McCarthy

Colm McCarthy

Leo Varadkar's speech at Queen's University last Friday reflected (politely) his judgment that the British political leadership has wasted 14 months since the referendum in dodging the key challenges in implementing Brexit. The continuing retreat from reality saw foreign secretary Boris Johnson in New Zealand last week and the trade secretary Liam Fox in Argentina, exploring post-Brexit trade deals (aboard, metaphorically, the good ship Global Britain) to replace what will inevitably be lost in Europe.

As the intrepid Brexiteer duo sought commercial opportunities in these unlikely locations the chancellor, Philip Hammond, was fielding accusations of betrayal and treachery in London for suggesting that a transition arrangement with Europe will be needed after the clock runs down in March 2019.

The Taoiseach correctly identified the two distinct issues for British policy after departure, namely the relationship with the single market and with the customs union, which both the Tory government and the Labour opposition continue to fudge.

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