Trouble is, if you start a hare running you may have to shoot it.
David Davis had proposed Northern Ireland have a joint regime of UK and EU customs regulations, allowing it to trade freely with both, and a 10-mile wide “special economic zone” on the border with Ireland, thus avoiding checks there.
The Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU) declined to comment directly on the report, but also did not reject it, saying work was underway to “refine” possible customs solutions.
However, sources rejected the idea Davis had personally championed the plan, while a No 10 spokesman said Theresa May could not accept such an approach: “The prime minister has been absolutely clear that we cannot and will not accept a customs border down the Irish sea, and that we will preserve the constitutional integrity of the UK’s common market.
Sammy sounded almost reasonable until he got to that last bit about no deal.
DUP MP Sammy Wilson said the Government had not discussed the latest reported proposal with his party.Describing it as “at best contradictory”, he said it had arisen only because London had failed to “make it clear to the EU that regardless of (Michel) Barnier and EU negotiators’ attempts to keep us in the customs union and the single market, we are leaving”. Instead of moving from one set of half-cooked ideas to the other, it is now time for the Government to put down its foot and make it clear to EU negotiators that the Prime Minister stands by her commitment that no deal is better than a bad deal.
Nigel Dodds fired a blank warning shot at Theresa May. But he wants to protect what he regards as bilateral deals with the Republic over agriculture and the forthcoming single electricity market now due to start in October.
“Because there are areas such as the single electricity market and in terms of animal health regulation where we already have special arrangements for the island of Ireland. That’s not in any diminution of the red lines we have put down”.
The integrated electricity market, postponed until October is set up under UK and Irish law not EU law, but has EU implications, concluded the House of Lords EU select committee. And then there’s a little matter of needing a new interconnector with the south.
If the outcome of the negotiations means that EU energy legislation will continue to apply in Northern Ireland, the Government will need to consider whether to devolve additional powers to the Northern Ireland Assembly.
, “The deadline for the I-SEM is May 2018 and for that to work properly across the island we need more infrastructure to link the northern transmission system with the southern transmission system.” A new North-South interconnector has therefore been planned, which, as the CBI noted, is required “to forestall an electricity supply deficit from December 2021”.
On the ” frictionless” border, Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney:
In the next two weeks, we need to see written proposals,” Mr Coveney told The Irish Times. “It needs to happen two weeks from the summit.”
There’s a new idea or solution being mooted every week,” said a senior Government source, adding that Dublin was only “interested in proposals that are written down”.
“On paper like. Or on a screen. We are at legal text stage. We need legal texts to draft and debate.
Do I detect a note of sarcasm in that very Dub “like”?
It won’t happen this month and you know it Simon. In October- maybe. Yes, “the clock is ticking!”
Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London