The phrase ‘The emperor has no clothes’ from Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale is, I grant, overused. Yet it could not be more apposite in the case of the Exocet that Kate Hoey, the outstandingly honourable and honest Labour MP, has just sent across the bows of the Brexit negotiations.
This morning she set out in searing detail why the Irish Border issue is a malicious and shameful set-up by the Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar and the EU to keep the UK locked into their regulations and rules.
Quite simply, as we have argued on this site several times (here most recently and as long ago as the autumn of 2017), there hasn’t been an Irish border trade issue – security during the Troubles was an entirely separate issue – since independence in 1922. Varadkar, spurred on by – or indeed spurring on – EU machinations, has deliberately made an issue of it.
Kate Hoey goes further – she explains the background politics to our ignorant political elite having lambasted her Labour colleagues for never previously showing any interest in or support for Northern Ireland:
‘It is conveniently forgotten that those barriers were only there when the IRA was active, bombing and killing our soldiers and police officers. A border is there at the moment, although not visible. The Irish Republic has different excise duties, VAT rates and currency to the UK. Yet all those differences are handled remotely by technology and pre-paperwork. If intelligence arouses suspicion about smuggling, the vehicle will be stopped. In other words, with good will and cooperation, there is no need for any new structures.’
What our foolish Prime Minister and her equally culpable civil servant advisers have fallen for is, she says, scaremongering of the worst kind:
‘By implying that the peace process is threatened by a hard border, even though no-one has said they will build it, is scaremongering of the worst kind. The EU wants to keep us locked in to their regulations and rules: the Irish government is playing hardball even though it would suffer most if the UK were to leave on WTO rules. The Irish PM has behaved rather shamefully with some of his rhetoric and is clearly intent on becoming a future EU commissioner.
‘The hypocrisy is breathtaking too as his government have already erected a hard border against fishermen from Northern Ireland. Predating membership of the EEC, a 1965 Voisinage or neighbourhood agreement between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland granted reciprocal access to fishermen from each jurisdiction to fish in the other 0 to 6 mile territorial waters, reflecting traditional and historic fishing patterns around the island.’
She then explains this piece of political chicanery on the part of Varadkar, whose government has now erected and maintained a hard border against Northern Ireland fishermen in the hope that this will exert some kind of influence on the UK during the wider Brexit negotiations.
I quote her final paragraphs in full:
‘Our UK government claims to be maintaining the moral high ground on these issues, but the question arises: how long does the UK keep to the moral high ground when dealing with an Irish government that is taking our goodwill for granted?
‘When will the Prime Minister speak out and condemn this behaviour? When will she start speaking out in support of British citizens rather than seeming to care more about Irish views? It is this hypocrisy from Dublin that makes it certain that I and many other MPs will not support an agreement with the EU that panders to this kind of behaviour.’
If this is not enough to make the Cabinet resign en masse (to force Mrs May’s resignation) in protest at the incompetence or worse the knowing culpability of the negotiators (it is hard to believe that senior civil servants have been in ignorance of this) then it is hard to see what will.
The BBC for its part, has, instead of reporting the faux border problem accurately, been pushing the perspective of Stena, the ferry/freight company, which says British ports will be bypassed to avoid the ‘hard’ border, creating food shortages. What they don’t (ever) also say is that Stena is owned by a Swedish billionaire who is a fanatical Europhile.