Brexit and the Border


A chara, – You report that the “customs arrangement ” proposed by Theresa May, whereby the UK would levy external tariffs on behalf of the EU, according to some politicians, would obviate the need for a “hard/customs” border between the Republic and Northern Ireland (“May’s ‘war cabinet’ to seek way forward on customs”, News, May 2nd).

Such a conclusion is not correct. Irrespective of where and by whom tariffs are collected, there is a need to ensure that goods arriving in the UK end up only in their specified destination , ie either within the UK or, via transit , to the EU. This requires border controls. Otherwise, for example, if the UK applied lower external tariffs on agricultural products supposedly for the UK market, absent customs restrictions, these could “leak” across the Northern Ireland/Republic border and enter the EU. This latest suggestion underlines the difficulty many UK politicians have in facing up to the inescapable reality. Unless the UK remains in the customs union , a hard border is needed – either between the Republic and the North or between the North and the rest of the UK. Indeed, the EU itself would be among the first to insist on this, in order to preserve the integrity of its own customs union. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 6.