Fianna Fáil rejects ‘max fac’ Brexit customs plan

Podcast: Lisa Chambers says agreeing to proposal would weaken negotiating position

Lisa Chambers said agreeing to the proposal would weaken Ireland’s negotiating position. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill / The Irish Times

Lisa Chambers said agreeing to the proposal would weaken Ireland’s negotiating position. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill / The Irish Times

 

Fianna Fáil will not support a ‘max fac plus delay’ customs arrangement for the Irish border after Britain leaves the European Union, according to the party’s spokesperson on Brexit.

Speaking on The Irish Times Inside Politics podcast, Fianna Fáil TD Lisa Chambers said agreeing to the proposal would weaken Ireland’s negotiating position.

Ms Chambers also said the Irish government had been “too nice” in negotiations.

“I think we’ve been far too facilitative of the Tory infighting that’s going on and we’re allowing it to drag on to the detriment of our own country,” she said.

“We are supportive of the Irish Government’s attempts to secure a good deal for Ireland, but that support is conditional on them doing a good job”.

‘Max fac’ refers to the use of technology to minimise friction at the border if Britain leaves the EU customs union.

‘Max fac plus delay’ envisages a period during which Britain remains in the customs union, or something similar to it, while the technological infrastructure needed for ‘max fac’ to work is developed.

The proposal is reportedly being considered by Prime Minister Theresa May, whose Cabinet is riven over how to solve the question of the Irish border and Britain’s customs relationship with the EU post-Brexit.

As a June summit with the European Council draws near, May is under pressure to find a workable approach that is agreeable to Dublin, Brussels and hardliners within her party such as Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and MP Jacob Rees-Mogg.

Speaking on The Irish Times Inside Politics podcast, Ms Chambers said ‘max fac plus delay’ would “lead to a border”, and that EU support for Ireland’s position may be weaker at a point in the future when the terms of that border were being finalised.

“Who does it suit? It doesn’t suit us. The (June council meeting) deadline is there to put pressure on the UK to get off the fence, make a decision and for Theresa May to show some leadership on this issue”.

“What happens when the delay period is over? It suits the British government to kick this can down the road”.

Inside Politics is a regular podcast from The Irish Times. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, on Android, on Stitcher, on ACast or on Soundcloud.