Brexit: Revenue report warns frictionless Border is impossible

Internal unpublished document says it’s naive to believe unique arrangement can be found


There have been calls for the immediate publication of an internal report by the Revenue Commissioners which sets out the implications of Brexit for the Border and Irish businesses.

It is understood the report states that an open Border between Northern Ireland and the Republic will be impossible from a customs perspective and that it would be naive to believe a unique arrangement can be found.

The unpublished report, details of which have been disclosed by RTÉ, is believed to set out the vast increase in paperwork, human resources and physical space requirements at ports and airports.

Labour leader Brendan Howlin said he saw “no point in the Government keeping this analysis to itself”.

“The report should be published, with redactions if necessary, over the coming days,” he said.

“The goal of Irish policy now should be to persuade the UK government to keep the UK within the single market and the customs union.

“While the report is focused on the impact on Irish businesses arising from UK non-membership of the customs union, it equally follows for UK companies seeking to do business not just with Ireland but with the EU itself.”

Extra staff

It states that extra staff will be needed at An Post to manage custom checks on parcels from the UK, with smaller regional airports also requiring customs infrastructure.

Revenue told The Irish Times that the report was an “internal working paper” and “dates from September 2016, before Article 50 was triggered”.

“It predates the many developments and papers written since then and of course, matters have moved on significantly since then,” a spokeswoman said.

“The outcome of negotiations between the EU and UK, and the practical implications for trade and industry, will not be known for some time.”

However, Fianna Fáil’s Brexit spokesman Stephen Donnelly said the leaked report had shown there were “elements within the Government more interested in playing party politics than in working on a cross-party basis to prepare Ireland for Brexit”.

“The leaking of this report shows that there are some within Government who are unwilling to share critical pieces of analyses with the Oireachtas at a time when the risks to our country’s future economic prosperity have never been so grave,” the Wicklow TD said.

“The Revenue Commissioners’ report outlines clearly the task facing Ireland in terms of Brexit, and on the basis of this report, it’s very hard to come to any other conclusion that we are heading for a hard Border.

“Unless there is a change in British party political and government policy in terms of keeping Northern Ireland, and indeed Great Britain, in the customs union, Irish business and agriculture face a very uncertain future.”