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Brexit: Dublin and Brussels dismiss UK proposals for North

Inside Politics: Johnson government put forward plan for ‘customs clearance centres’ a few miles either side of Border

Good morning.

Today is October 1st. On the last day of this month, the UK is due to leave the European Union. That matter will be very keenly contested in the coming month. If you already think there's too much Brexit in the news, it might be time for a small trip to an uninhabited island.

The latest twist came last night on the RTÉ main evening news, when Tony Connelly landed his latest Brexit scoop - a leak of some of the content of the papers the British government has tabled in the talks with the European Commission in Brussels.

The British, he said, have suggested the way to avoid infrastructure such as customs posts on the Border is to have . . . a series of “customs clearance centres” a few miles either side of the Border, with nothing on the Border itself. Traffic across the Border could then be monitored electronically.


Unsurprisingly, neither Brussels nor Dublin was exactly bowled over by this wizard wheeze. Both the Irish Government and the Commission issued statements saying they had as yet received no formal proposals from the British government (it was contained in "non-papers2" tabled for discussion), though sources in both locations made it clear that as far as they were concerned, the idea was plain bonkers. Their reactions top our lead story today.

Meanwhile, the Daily Telegraph reports the content of the papers leaked to RTÉ does indeed make up the basis of the formal proposals the UK intends to table later this week, probably tomorrow.

It is not clear whether the British proposals are meant to be taken seriously. The sense from Irish officials late last night is that it would be almost worse if they are. Further reactions will dominate the news this morning.

In Manchester, where the Conservatives are meeting for their conference, the story appeared to have made little impact last night. Instead, people were more interested in whether Boris Johnson had squeezed the thigh of a female journalist 20 years ago at a lunch when he was editor of the Spectator magazine.

The prime minister denies the thigh-squeezing incident took place and says he wants to get on with delivering Brexit. I can’t believe I just wrote that sentence. Conference reports from London editor Denis Staunton all day.

Here he reports that opposition parties have shelved a no-confidence motion for now but are holding discussions on replacing Johnson's Tory government with a short-term "unity" administration.

Elsewhere in Brexit news, former taoiseach John Bruton last night accused the UK government of failing in its responsibilities to uphold the Belfast Agreement.

And here's a useful guide to the week in Brexit.

Murphy group the latest player on far-left field

Last week came the news there was a split in the far-left Solidarity group. Yesterday Paul Murphy, who left the party - amicably, everyone says, somewhat too insistently - announced the formation of a new group: Rise.

Somewhat confusingly, the group will remain part of Solidarity-People before Profit, even though it will have its own identity. It will co-operate with other left-wing groups. Just not too closely, it appears. Or at least not too closely with some of them. If you know what I mean.

Anyway, Harry McGee's report is here, and he has a handy cut-out-and-keep guide to the small far-left parties here.

What does the party stand for? Much the same as Solidarity, it seems - overthrow of the capitalist system, liberation of the workers, establishment of the socialist paradise and definitely no carbon tax. Sure what could possibly go wrong?

Best reads

Fintan's plan to save the union for Boris.

Also on the front page - 15 babies were born last year to homeless mothers.

Looks like the history boys have won.

The current estimated cost of Ireland's bank bailout. Talk about a warning from history.


The Cabinet meets this morning at Government Buildings, where some discussion on the current state of budget negotiations is expected. It has been a disappointingly sedate budget process so far, with Paschal Donohoe terrifying his colleagues behind doors that have remained closed to a positively antisocial degree. We’ll see what we can do about that this week. Otherwise, the Cabinet agenda is said to be light.

The Conservative Party conference continues in Manchester.

Interrogation of the nominated new EU commissioners continues at the European Parliament. Big Phil Hogan came through last night.

In the Dáil, there's Leaders' Questions, order of business, Taoiseach oral parliamentary questions and then public expenditure questions to get the week rolling. Farmers and bankers are in at the committees, and statements on Brexit (what else?) in the Seanad. Full details here on

In China, in case you were wondering what they’re up to today, they’re celebrating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic. In Hong Kong, less so.

It’s a day of anniversaries. Stalin’s first five-year plan (Paul Murphy and the lads might mark it); the occupation of the Sudetenland; the sentencing at Nuremburg; Nigerian independence; the thrilla in Manila; Helmut Kohl takes office.

Whatever happens today – proposals proposed, negotiations negotiated – we’ll report on it. Meanwhile, do have a thoroughly tooty, fruity day.