Thursday, 10 August 2017

More dishonesty from the Brexiteer Tories

If there is one thing I have learned about dealing with Tory Brexiters it is that any kind of forensic debunking of their witless assertions is pointless. You can explain things, introduce them to new concepts, but being magpies they will peck away the bits they want, twist it, and disregard the rest. It's a sort of rhetorical judo. You just cannot expect honest engagement. This is why I will not be giving too much attention to this nonsense by Marcus Fysh MP with regard to the Irish border.

Fysh says that "Almost nowhere in the world now has checks of goods at the border itself, and these are being eliminated worldwide by the WTO trade facilitation agreement to which many countries are now signed up".

This isn't remotely correct. Demonstrably so. Practical application of customs systems under trade facilitation is in its infancy. Everything presently installed is happening under a trial regime - with ongoing experiments in Ghana, Pakistan, Russia and India, but only on selected routes and product types. It is nowhere close to becoming a rival to the single market. This is based on the e-TIR system with a view to implementing Single Window. Fysh has never looked into this at all. I know for a fact he hasn't. He's just making this baloney up.

Then there's animal produce and livestock. At the moment, goods entering any EU member state from a third country have to enter through a border inspection post. Goods have to undergo a formal procedure at Dublin Airport involving document and identity checks, and sometimes physical checks. The same would apply for goods by road - especially if we were operating to a different regulatory regime and very especially if we had high risk agreements with other third countries.

Fysh fills space by pointing out that there are systems and methodologies we could use to overcome these obstacles, and for a large extent that is true given a decade or so, but without context it is worthless. I could say that, by coating a 747 with lighter-than-air polish, we would cross the Atlantic with 90 percent less fuel and double the payload. Even if the latter is true, it is conditional on the former - which cannot be true under any circumstances.

The challenge we have is to create a framework which covers all the bases in a limited time, then do the facilities procurement, IT systems, the training and the transition. If you want to know how that goes just look at Universal Credit. 

Now I could go into a balls-aching deconstruction but that's a waste of everyone's time. Just read it for yourself. Fysh asserts that the EEA (the system presently in place) is no solution, but concludes that "With wisdom I am sure the Irish and UK governments can find a way to agree on the above frameworks for co-operation in trade and migration, and lead negotiations in a positive wider direction when they resume later this month. I hope great effort will be put into strengthening and sustaining this important bilateral relationship".

So we're junking a system that could (and does) work in favour for some as yet unspecified system in Fysh's imagination, which presently exists nowhere in the real world in the "hope" that we'll be strengthening "this important bilateral relationship".

The immediate problem there is that this isn't a bilateral relationship with Ireland. It's with the EU. Trade is an exclusive competence and the regulatory regime, along with customs law is entirely the domain of the EU. Ireland is a the onlooker. It is not within the gift of Ireland to be making sweeping concessions on third country frontier controls simply because the UK has departed. Fysh of all people should know this in that is a chief reason to leave the EU.

Fysh, says that: "It therefore makes eminent sense in this context for the Irish Government to work with the UK to do whatever it takes in terms of systems upgrades to be able to monitor goods movements large and small, and to push for full customs co-operation, a common transit convention, VAT netting and zero tariffs, as part of an early framework for free trade between the EU and UK. This would keep trade between Ireland and the UK similar to what it is now, and give confidence that there is a robust process for managing potential divergence of standards."

This is absurd. On Brexit the Irish border becomes the EU's external border - not the Irish border. Thus, the UK will have to work with the EU to agree border crossing procedures - not Ireland. The UK becomes a third country and the controls for third countries are already set out in EU law. We must assume that third country controls will apply at the Irish border. Yet nowhere does Fysh mention these points. This is lying by omission - but mainly through resolute and determined ignorance.

As ever it is necessary to point out that the EU already has a system for dealing with third countries and anything beyond that requires an EEA level of regulatory conformity. The further we deviate from it the more complex and expensive these systems become - and at this point, when you're dealing with a population militantly against more border controls, all you're going to get for your trouble is a black market of goods travelling outside of the system, to the point of it being mostly useless.

If there was any actual point in further dismantling Fysh's dishonest gibberish I could really go to town on it, but in the end we are not dealing with rational or honest actors. Morons always have to learn the hard way. Just a pity we will be the ones paying for their very expensive education.

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