Tony Blair assures EU that May is sincere about a frictionless border; sees need for small amendment to the GFA

Am I on my own in becoming weary of  yet another of the great and  good  speaking in general terms about the future of the Border?  Tony Blair, addressing a European People’s Party gathering in Co Wicklow  was at pains to  declare his confidence in Theresa May’s sincerity over wanting a “ frictionless “border, even though  by rejecting  continuing membership of the single market and free movement   she has made it the  problem without a solution so far.

“I honestly believe, whatever my disagreements over Brexit with the present British Prime Minister and government, I think they will do everything they possibly can to make sure that the border is not a hard border and that we have the most satisfactory and open border arrangements as possible.”

Mr Blair said there was a consensus in British politics that the gains of the past few years in Northern Ireland should be retained.

Assuring European  Brexit sceptics of British commitment on the point perhaps matters a little. Problem is, neither he nor Michel Barnier  have any real idea how it will be possible. And despite Barnier’s good intentions about giving priority to Ireland, how can it be known until terms for trading after Brexit are decided? And that will take a couple of years at least, assuming the Brexit timetable is maintained   The border doesn’t exist in an Irish bubble.

Significantly perhaps, he placed the greater onus on the EU to solve the problem, even though as the Irish side keep repeating, they didn’t create it.

The biggest challenge is going to be the biggest challenge for the European Union because after Brexit then the border becomes the border between the UK and the European Union.

However, he conceded today that disruption to the Common Travel Area (CTA) will be “inevitable”.

He said the CTA “has meant ease of going back and forth across the border, vital for work and family connection has been in place for almost 100 years. And the absence of customs controls – both countries being in the Single Market and Customs Union – have meant a huge boost to UK-Irish trade”.

The Belfast Agreement was “formulated on the assumption that both countries were part of the EU.

“This was not only for economic but also for political reasons, to take account particularly of nationalist aspirations. Some of the language will therefore require amendment because of Brexit.”

However, he said that “with goodwill, including from our European partners, this should be achievable with the minimum of difficulty.”

Asked about the prospect of a united Ireland, Mr Blair said, “I think you can see there’s going to be a big debate, as you’d expect, and there’s lots of people talking about it. But in the end it will depend on what the terms of Brexit really are.

Mr Blair warned that “A hard border between the countries would be a disaster and I am sure everyone will and must do all they can to avoid it.

 

 

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  • chrisjones2

    immigration and travel are utterly different things

  • chrisjones2

    Come on ….dont spoil it for them

  • Nevin

    “Tony Blair assures EU that May is sincere about a frictionless border”

    Just imagine: ‘Tony Blair’ and ‘sincere’ in the same sentence and only five words apart.

    Those with an attention span of more than five minutes will recall his five pledges/assurances at the University of Ulster in Coleraine when Bertie and he broke the pledge on paramilitary prisoners possibly before the ink was dry on the 1998 Agreement.

    The WI had the measure of the bold Tony:

  • Gaz

    What a load of rubbish-its the end of the EU and the 26 county state will have a big choice to make EU or UK.Any business thats needs a subsidy to exist should not be in business.Im looking forward to real business growth when the UK-all of it-leaves EU

  • Gaz

    NI people are not special and should be patronised as such
    Looking forward to complete total Brexit in 2019-deal or no deal

  • Gaz

    EU political heavyweight lol

  • Gaz

    The checks on the border will come at the behest of the EU and the 26 county state will do as it is told-Re-Nice and Lisbon re runs a few years back

  • Salmondnet

    Not so. Had you been part of the UK your votes should easily have been enough to swing the UK wide vote to Remain (if that were not so it would suggest an ambivalence towards the EU in Ireland which few here acknowledge).
    Hearty thanks for your independence.

  • Oriel27

    So gaz, what about northern farmers loosing the eu sub ? How will they react to that while the farmers in south continue to get it ? I’m of farming stock and I know the sub is needed. Farming is useless without it. Do you see how the border could end if this happens ?
    There may be 2 jurisdictions but there is one economy on this island. Do you see how the hardline brand of unionism will have to give in ?

  • John Collins

    Well there would always be a percentage who would vote leave and about, give or take, one third of the electorate would not vote at all, so it would be hard for our total of about 2 million cast votes could swing it.
    However can you imagine the uproar in England and Wales if the tail, Ireland and Scotland, wagged the dog and frustrated the wishes of what would be otherwise a clear majority. It might be timefor Paddy to be heading for Holyhead.

  • John Collins

    Well considering that the police in GB, and indeed several other jurisdictions, have had plenty opportunities to apprehend him I feel he is safe enough. When Pinochet was not arrested I think Tony is on the clear.

  • Fear Éireannach

    That makes it so different from the UK then.

  • Fear Éireannach

    Who is its own genius? Nigel Farage?

  • John Collins

    Well if you want certain foreigners to be kept out of the EU, it must be in GBs interest to have border posts.

  • John Collins

    Do you not think that when Canary Wharf was sent through the air it also concentrated English minds.

  • Fear Éireannach

    No, it doesn’t, you are comparing apples and turnips, which even a blind person with no taste buds can identify to be different.

  • Fear Éireannach

    That is hardly a useful or relevant example.

  • John Collins

    Well I thought that the sealing of the NI borders before the F&M outbreak ever reached its shores was a scandal.

  • The Living End

    you seriously think policing the two situations are comparable?

    and if it was so easy, why didnt the British seal their side of the border, what was their motivation for allowing people to die?

    people hear and repeat these sort of fallacies between like minded individuals and not one stops to think, and question the logic.

    remember when MMcG became education minister, loyalists thought they would be forced to learn irish in school? i see the newsletter is pedalling the same crap now about the ILA.

  • The Living End

    you dont think consumers paying tax would benefit the country?

  • John Collins

    No Chris. The GB Government had one hundred and sixteen years to make a go of governing Ireland properly. It worked OK for two or maybe three counties in the NI, otherwise it was an unmitigated disaster. There were warned often enough in the HOC by HR members of an impending disaster, but they dismissed those concerns as ‘agitation’. They paid the price.
    If there was a vote today in the ROI on a proposal to reintegrate with the UK, it would be beaten further than you would see a white cow in a bog.
    I often wonder also why Lloyd George did not have a plebiscite in 1921 with the simple question did the Irish want to stay in the UK or not. Of course he knew the answer even then, hence no vote.

  • The Living End

    UK leaves and the EU id finished… narcissistic much?

  • The Living End

    why would it be funny to see your neighbours humiliated? oh thats right, because you hate ireland, irish people and irish culture. what a thing to be defined by

  • Reader

    The Living End: you dont think consumers paying tax would benefit the country?
    There are plenty of other taxes to use, each with a different impact on the economy – few are as harmful as import tariffs.
    For consumers, tariffs are just like concealed extra VAT on foreign imports – so they are either xenophobic or protectionist. For goods imported for business it’s really damaging – businesses can reclaim the whole cost of VAT, but only part of the cost of tariffs. Few industries benefit from the protection, but many pay the price.
    If applied to food imports, tariffs are like consumer VAT – the UK doesn’t have VAT on food, but it is stuck with the EU food import tariffs. I think we will not keep those unless we get into a stupid trade war.

  • Reader

    Fear Éireannach: …if it were trying to avoid it then it would leave well enough alone.
    You don’t have a veto on our future: “No man has the right to fix the boundary to the march of a nation”

  • Reader

    The Living End: why would it be funny to see your neighbours humiliated?
    Stick around – you will see plenty of that sort of hate.

  • Reader

    John Collins: Well if you want certain foreigners to be kept out of the EU, it must be in GBs interest to have border posts.
    That seems slightly confused. The UK will continue to play its part in controlling access to the EU by remaining in the Common Travel Area (CTA).
    But I think you may have meant “…certain foreigners to be kept out of the UK”? Again – for non-EU foreigners, the CTA will continue to do the job. For EU foreigners, there is no job to be done. It is virtually certain that EU people will be able to come and go freely, but will have to meet new conditions to access the NHS, Education, Welfare and Work. The border with the EU will be paper, not wire. And because of the UK’s Ireland Act 1949 even the paper border will not exist at all for Irish Citizens.

  • Zorin001

    And Westminister isn’t?

  • chrisjones2

    Of course there is no difference ….nor in Dublin. I was challenging the happy clappy EU view of the EU

    As Regan said “the scariest words in the English Language are “I am from the Government and i am here to help you””

  • DrMark

    Take a drive around the back roads of Derrylin or Rosslea and you will see isolated farmsteads deserted where once Protestant farmers were bringing up their familes until one day an IRA “volunteer” bravely shot the father or son in his bed or on his tractor in the fields, one by one these forgotten souls were exterminated like mice until the republicans got
    Their “pure” Irish townlands back under the republican monopoly, don’t tell me I am wrong, I saw it happen in the 70s and 80s and it is a story largely ignored by the politically motivated “historians” of our times, years previous my own family had to leave county Cavan as our beliefs did not fit the catholic Irish state agenda, genocide it was and cannot be forgotten just because a few nationalists say it wasn’t so……

  • Zorin001

    Fair enough Chris, lets face it it’s the top 1% who hold the real power nowadays

  • Fear Éireannach

    I couldn’t care less if the British tow their island to the south Atlantic and dock at Stanley as long as they do not interfere with Ireland.

  • Ciaran74

    It’s still not genocide. It’s human activity and interaction the world over. Deplorable but very very far from genocide. You weren’t just exaggerating, you’re myth building with dry ice……..

  • DrMark

    The agenda was to push the border further to the north east of Ulster by changing the demographics of rural border areas, this happened here as it did in Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia etc, abroad we are allowed to use the genocide word but apparently this would never happen in godly Ireland, shame on me for getting this wrong, there are none so blind that those who do not wish to see and I am afraid ciaran you suffer selective blindness on this matter….

  • Ciaran74

    Being intimidated from your home/property wasn’t and isn’t a rural phenomenon.

  • DrMark

    Agreed, there was massive population shift in Belfast in the early 70s too, this is not a beauty competition on victimhood, merely me stating my own personal witnessing of what happened in my patch…

  • nilehenri

    my fantasy is more based in reality than the nightmare theresa may is currently trying to impose. aside from snipey comments have you anything of worth to add to the discussion?

  • nilehenri

    i’m raging i missed it.

  • Hugh Davison

    Irish beef, UK beef, EU beef wtf?

  • Karl

    So am I.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    Possibly. But not all children will be (or have been) as lucky as you Katyushka. It’s bad enough be indoctrinated in the basic habits of Western “civilisation”, without an added overlay of one particular religion. (I’m ok with all regions plus atheism being taught so children can have a choice – but not segregationism).