Saturday, June 10, 2017

The DUP and the Customs Union

It's relevant -- and fun -- to lay out the loony positions that the DUP has adopted on social issues over the years. But it's important not to lose sight of the DUP's stated position on Brexit, because it's central to the tension of their support for a government also reliant on Scottish MPs. The DUP wants to leave the Customs Union. They also want a frictionless border with the Republic of Ireland, but the issue is whether those two aspirations are compatible. Commitments in their manifesto include --

Progress on new free trade deals with the rest of the world 
Comprehensive free trade and customs agreement with the European Union 
Northern Ireland established as a hub for trade from Irish Republic into the broader UK market. Customs arrangements which facilitate trade with new and existing markets
 Jurisdiction of European Court of Justice ended and greater control over our laws restored

The aspiration to non-EU trade deals, special arrangements for Irish trade with the UK, and being outside the ECJ are all incompatible with membership in the Customs Union. Word games around this conundrum need to be watched closely in the coming months.

Incidentally, along with the dream of a hard Brexit that died yesterday, so did the dream of West Brexit i.e. Ireland following the UK out of the European Union, as explicitly demanded by West Brit trolls and coyly advocated by the opinion pages of the Sunday Business Post. With Britain now far more likely to stay in the Customs Union and probably even the Single Market, there would be zero logic for Ireland to have asymmetric trade relations with the UK compared with other EU member countries trade relations with the UK. 

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