Friday, 9 February 2018

The border according to Heisenberg

Mrs May and the Brexiteers continue to believe in the border in Northern Ireland which can exist in two states: invisible and intangible, in order to comply with the Good Friday agreement, while at the same time controlling the flow of goods as a result of leaving not only the EU but also the single market and the customs union. Northern Ireland minister Karen Bradley put up a brave defence of the indefensible in the House of Commons last Wednesday, but she often had to resort to this sort of unrealistic answer:

Stephen Pound (Ealing North) (Lab)
May I welcome the glistening new team to the Front Bench? I am sure the whole House agrees with me in saying how pleased we are—we are absolutely delighted—that the Secretary of State’s predecessor is recovering so well from his surgery. May I particularly welcome the Parliamentary Under-Secretary? He is the eighth Minister that I have had the privilege of shadowing; I do not know whether this attrition is anything to do with my personal behaviour, but I plead not guilty.

Now that the new team have had a chance to find their way around, particularly on the border, and they have studied the issue of the electronic border, do they believe that such a frontier is feasible or is it just a fantasy?

Karen Bradley
I thank the hon. Gentleman for his warm words. I too pay tribute to my predecessor, who I am pleased to say is recovering well at home. I know the whole House wishes him well, wishes him a speedy recovery and looks forward to welcoming him back to this Chamber.

The hon. Gentleman refers to the matter of the border. We are determined that there will be no new physical infrastructure at the border, and we will maintain things such as the common travel area, which has been in existence since well before the EU.

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