As the Brexit chaos continues, Leo Varadkar finds himself in a progressively more difficult position.
He fears that if the UK leaves without a deal, Dublin would be required to enforce EU external borders, which would mean enforcing checks at the border.
The Taoiseach conceded a few weeks ago that the Republic had made no preparations for border checks. it is well known that no Irish government could erect a border and hope to survive. However, having thrown in his lot with the EU 27, they will require him to protect the single market by enforcing EU borders, which we all know he can’t! Hence Leo’s dilemma.
Leo’s latest wheeze is to ask the UK to enforce his border! The Taoiseach said over the weekend that ‘the UK still has obligations under the Good Friday Agreement, you still committed to full regulatory alignment back in December 2017 and we still want the arrangements in the backstop to apply.’
In other words, Dublin wants to have border checks at Belfast and Larne, thus moving the border to the Irish Sea and separating Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK.
Of course he does, because he and his colleagues have played the green card from the beginning, but now it risks backfiring. He should have been open to discussing with London and Belfast ways of handling things on the island, but he refused.
He also refers to the Belfast Agreement, using that as justification for his policy.
We now know that if the backstop was initiated, that would begin to usurp the provisions of some cross border bodies and would be breaching both the letter and spirit of the Agreement, and especially the principle of consent.
With his reference to the joint EU-UK report of December 2017, Leo Varadkar confirms the Ulster Unionist Party’s contention that this was the key moment in the negotiations with Brussels and which has led us to the current mess.
When the joint report came out, we immediately wrote to the Prime Minister on 7th December 2107 (letter attached) pointing out the dangers of ‘regulatory alignment.’ The following day, Arlene Foster issued a statement that there would be no regulatory differences between Northern Ireland and Great Britain (attached).
At the same time, we had the preposterous statement from Ian Paisley MP claiming that ‘Frankly, whatever efforts are made to characterise this week, Leo Varadkar was done over by the EU, the UK and the DUP.’
What nonsense that has turned out to be.”
Our current crisis with the backstop stems from the failure of the DUP to understand its significance in December 2017 and to use the past year to prevent the government pursuing it. They didn’t do so, and were asleep at the wheel.
Leo is hoist by his own petard, playing the great European but, when push comes to shove, is unable to enforce the rules that his other 26-member state colleagues require.
The right course to take now is to engage directly with London and Belfast, alongside Brussels, and agree an alternative to the backstop, and we call on all to move on and put this mess behind us.
Lord Empey, Westminster