Ireland may lose badly by obstructive behaviour over the border

This piece, by Ray Bassett, was forwarded to us by the veteran Irish Eurosceptic Anthony Coughlan

Playing the EU’s Game on the Border Will Damage Ireland’s Interests, says former Irish diplomat in Politeia’s new analysis.

Dublin should accept UK border plan and work with Britain to make Brexit a success for both islands

The Irish border has become an obstacle to the Brexit negotiations. All sides want to keep the border ‘soft’ and friction free and preserve the gains of the Good Friday Agreement. But the EU and Dublin have rejected Britain’s proposals.

In Politeia’s next publication, Brexit and the Border: where Ireland’s True Interests Lie, Ray Bassett considers the border against the background and reality of Ireland’s economic and political interests, and the options for the UK government. A former diplomat, who served as Ireland’s Ambassador to Canada and was also a Good Friday Agreement negotiator, Dr Bassett explains that the Irish Government’s present policy is not in the country’s best interests. It leaves Ireland dangerously exposed if the border problem scuppers an overall EU/UK deal.

The author analyses the different options floated to ‘solve’ the border question. Politically the only possible solution is one based on technology along the lines proposed by the UK. This would be based on a trusted trader programme. Proven models, such as that in Australia, already exist from which some useful features might be adopted.

By contrast the EU’s proposals would endanger the stability of the island. Brussels should abandon its red line that anything on the island of Ireland must “maintain the integrity of the Union’s (i.e. the EU’s) Legal Order”. Bassett questions the wisdom of the Irish Government in aligning itself with Brussels at a time when the EU itself is undergoing changes, none of which are in Ireland’s interests. Moreover, a number of national elections across the EU have made clear a rising alienation of voters from the centralising policies of the present EU.

Irish leaders should change course and work to resolve the border dispute rapidly and towards a comprehensive free trade agreement between the UK and the EU. Given the historic, ethnic, cultural and economic links between Ireland and Britain, it is strongly in their country’s interests to do so. Ireland needs a successful Brexit.

The author concludes by proposing the Irish government should:

 *   Make clear both to London and Brussels that the Border must not be used as a weapon to thwart Brexit.
 *   Enter into immediate and practical bilateral discussions with London to resolve the border question.
 *   Work with the British government and the political parties in Northern Ireland to avoid any undue hardening of cross-border arrangements on the island of Ireland.
 *   Work with the British government to avoid any new barriers between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.
 *   Seek to join EFTA and leave the EU. EFTA membership would facilitate continued trade with the EU and allow a free trade with the from outside the Customs Union

Commenting on the legal framework, Professor David Collins explains that legally Bassett’s proposals would work well to Ireland’s interests. Liam Halligan explains why economically, Ireland cannot afford to play the EU’s game over the border, but should accept that Ireland’s economic interests demand that it should work with Britain to develop and put into effect the technological solution.

The paper was launched at a special meeting in House of Commons Committee on Thursday 17th May, with the speakers including the author, Ray Bassett, David Collins, Professor of International Economic Law, City University, and Liam Halligan, co-author of Clean Brexit with Gerard Lyons and Economics Columnist at The Sunday Telegraph.


Dr Ray Bassett has been a senior diplomat at Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin and has served as the country’s Ambassador to Canada, Jamaica and the Bahamas 2010-2016. Other diplomatic postings include Copenhagen, Canberra, Belfast (twice), London and Ottawa. He was involved in the Good Friday Agreement negotiations as part of the Irish Government Talks Team and participated throughout the discussions, including the final session at Castle Buildings in Stormont.

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  1. Adam HileyReply

    it’s the Irish Government and their masters in Brussels who are causing trouble there should be no bad feeling between the British Irish and European people the EU is on borrowed time politically

    • StevenReply

      Adam, the Irish government is essentially very childish and always has been. One of the motivations (if not the only major one) in their joining the Euro was to further differentiate the Republic from ‘bad, old, evil Britain’. Virtually everything the Irish government does in a foreign affairs or EU/European capacity is aimed at proving their ‘independence’ from Britain and even if a policy line is pursued that is against Irish interests longterm then it will be implemented because to be ‘different’ and ‘independent’ from Britain is the highest ideal and that makes it worth it in and of itself.

  2. StevenReply

    It is a real shame Hitler’s Operation Green (proposed invasion of the Irish Free State) was not put into operation and carried-out successfully. The Irish government has been a constant pain in the backside to Britain since 1922 and they still are. It really is about time they grew-up and started to realise that always taking the opposite line than the UK doesn’t make them more ‘independent’ and that the destiny of the Irish Republic is bound up with ours (for better or worse) just like it was in 1939/1940/1941.

  3. Adam HileyReply

    despite the utterly uselessness of May Leo Varadker is trying to punch above His weight with a Nuclear power with a Country with 10 times the population and Money hopefully the good people of Ireland will get rid of this Euroclown

    • StevenReply

      I doubt they would do that. I’m afraid the majority opinion in the Republic of Ireland views EU membership as a very good thing and thinks by being a member the Republic is somehow more ‘independent’. They view things as being INHERENTLY GOOD if Britain is doing the opposite. Yes, it is childish but that is what their leaders have taught them since 1922. The PRIMARY motivation of their government in joining the Euro was to move the Republic of Ireland away from any sense it was still within what one could call the ‘British orbit’ rather than any economic considerations. Britain didn’t join nor were we likely to therefore the Irish political Establishment thought Euro membership was not just desirable but ESSENTIAL.

    • StevenReply

      They won’t get rid of him. Indeed, most of the Irish people APPROVE of his constant awkwardness towards us over this issue and even if they did want to get rid of his government they would find it very difficult to do so sine the Republic has one of the world’s weirdest electoral systems called the Single Transferable Vote (STV) :,_2016

      This is the one the Liberal Democrats and the Electoral Reform Society in Britain are obsessed about and I would tell them there is no chance the British people would ever adopt that one. However, we may adopt Germany’s:

  4. StevenReply

    Let’s move on with or without the co-operation of the ever hostile Irish government. We shouldn’t be afraid either of a ‘hard’ border. If the IRA start anything again, we should invade and teach them a lesson they will never forget.

    I can’t be the only person in the country who is exasperated at Teresa Maybe’s SICK JOKE of a ‘government’ and their constant prevarication over Brexit. All this hoo-ha over the border just goes to show how much sovereignty we have lost since 1973 and why the Good Friday Agreement shouldn’t have been signed ie what sensible country in the world signs an agreement with another promising no ‘hard’ border with it?

  5. StevenReply

    All the present hullabaloo is going to be academic soon as we are going to have another snap general election in the Autumn according to the Sunday Times.

  6. Thomas BussReply

    Steven, I think that the Irish can be very difficult and exasperating too, but I am far from wishing that Hitler had invaded their country. Nazism was a sick ideology and I would not wish any country to be subjugated to them and their concentration camps. I regret their decision to leave our union as well, but their democratic wishes must be respected. If we want to leave the EU to regain democracy, then we must respect the Irish democracy as well, and encourage them to leave this failed European project, which would also make the Irish border solution much easier. Invasion would make us no better than the IRA.

  7. Gordon WebsterReply

    I believe The Republic would lose heavily if they don’t assert their sovereign right to decide. At least two factories have left my area in the last few years to set up shop in Ireland, and Britain is probably Ireland’s biggest market for goods, and for workers. Is continued subservience to an Evil Empire worth the potential losses?

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