Source: What will the border look like?

Source: What will the border look like?

There is a powerful air of unreality about the political conversations to date about the future of the border. Hard, soft, frictionless, seamless, blah, blah – we would all prefer to crack a couple of jokes and forget about the whole think, it is just too ridiculous. A lot of people are beginning to fall into the sort of “Sure, it’s never going to happen” complacency that got us all into this mess in the first place.

A quick skip through the “Future of the Land Border with the Republic of Ireland Inquiry” by the Commons NI Affairs Committee will soon knock the complacency out of you, even though it only deals with people movement and does not even touch on the impact of customs checks.

The academic authors look at variations in controls on different bits of the EU’s external borders including various bespoke arrangements between Estonia and Russia, Romania and Moldova and Spain and Morocco. Various methods of ensuring the free movement of peoples are examined  and finally they look at technology – or ABC (automated border controls). And they cite a trend towards tougher border controls even within the supposedly free Schengen zone – ID checks for rail passengers between Denmark and Sweden for example.

They do not, however, delve into any of the screamingly obvious political contradictions at the heart of our little local debate. Theresa may repeats endlessly that she does not want a return to a hard border in Ireland. We must ask this question – if the people who put her into power were not voting for very hard UK borders on 23rd June, what on earth was the whole thing about? We really don’t remember the Brexiteers campaigning for a hard border at Dover but a soft, flabby, seamless, frictionless no-bother-at-all one at Derrylin.