Not sure what’s triggered it exactly, but it sounds like Dublin is getting itchy over some of the conversation taking place over the backstop. No doubt all members of the cabinet have been briefed to keep schtum.
Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed found himself in hot water this morning on Morning Ireland when asked to explain why the government was making plans for a hard border with the UK at the ports (where, to be sure, the volume of trade is), but not the border:
Michael Creed, Minister for Agriculture, reacts to suggestions from the European Commission that a no-deal Brexit would lead to a hard border in Ireland pic.twitter.com/6cJgIPRuAA
— Morning Ireland (@morningireland) January 23, 2019
Getting right to the point, Audrey Carville demonstrated the power of the specific when she asked what checks the milk rolling out of the large Leckpatrick dairy heading for Donegal could expect to encounter in the case of a no deal. Answer came there none.
To be fair to the minister, even if there are contingency plans for handling the border, disclosing them now could hand arguments to the UK side that those emergency arrangements could be incorporated into whatever adjustments they might want to the Withdrawal Agreement.
But, as one retired British diplomat (who voted remain, but seems to have willingly accepted the result of the referendum) has noted, there are certain illogics to the position we all now find ourselves in.
If there's a self-fulfilling prophecy anywhere in the Brexit saga it lies in the backstop as currently drafted, since it makes no deal likely, which in turn necessitates a hard border (from the EU side) – which is what the backstop is supposed to stop.
— Christopher Meyer (@SirSocks) January 23, 2019
There was a distinct smell of coffee wafting through Dublin this morning. Here’s the leader from the Irish Independent:
Have we become so used to viewing Brexit as a drunk staggering from one side of the bar to the other, that we have stopped thinking about what happens should he fall flat on his face?
If so, we got a sobering reminder from the European Commission’s chief spokesman last night.
A hard Border, which Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney have so far refused to even countenance, will be a certainty. Margaritis Schinas conceded if Britain leaves without a deal: “I think it’s pretty obvious – you will have a hard Border.”
Sometimes even an inevitability can come as a shock. But this shouldn’t be. The time for sleep-walking, false confidence and even pretence has passed.
Oh yes, and Cork.
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Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty