- Oct 7, 2011
It certainly does. Furthermore if Macron decides to squeeze Calais after a no-deal bust up then Irish exports through Britain become a target. Even without this element the chaos at the eastern UK ports will be a problem on its own. I heard recently that 150 Irish trucks use the land bridge every day but the increased ferry capacity recently introduced will cater for sixty of them leaving a shortfall of 90. It doesn't sound insurmountable but it will be a serious short term problemThe UK Brexit Secretary Steven Barclay has said on "Sophie Ridge" on Sky News that 40% of Irish exports go through the port of Dover.
That raises concerns about potential loss of the UK-land bridge for Irish exports to Mainland Europe.
Further to my suggestion for having a referendum in NI on the backstop I think that the prospect of us having to stop and inspect NI lorries in the event of a crash out means that we are morally obliged to give them a choice about it. It is bound to cause resentment if we have to make NI trucks wait in long queues in order to board our ferries to Europe not to mention some even more serious controls. At least if there is a referendum it is something which they will have had some say over themselves.
It has a lot of other serious advantages to it. As has already been pointed out here Boris will be desperately seeking an agreement with the EU in the highly likely event that a passage to no-deal is blocked by parliament. If he goes to Brussels and the Irish side allow the EU to agree that the Backstop is to be decided by referendum in the north Boris can return to London triumphant with having effectively removed the backstop if the people in NI want it.
This lets Britain off the hook and will allow those people for whom the backstop was the sticking point to vote wholeheartedly for the deal. It's not that I think that there were that many of them but I think that with a no-deal closed off hard Brexiteers will accept it with a view to negotiating as hard a future relationship as the deal allows. The beauty of it is that they would not need an extension as the deal would be fully agreed with the final destination of NI the only decision left to make with two clear cut routes to take depending on the result of the referendum which would not hold the process from carrying on in the meantime
The DUP will hate it like they hate everything but in fact it gives them something of a ladder to climb down as well as there is every danger that it might be simply agreed above their heads anyway and at least this way they can be seen to be campaigning vociferously against the backstop and can blame Fenians and Lundies to their own supporters for keeping it if they fail to win the referendum. For these people I feel that a vote for the backstop or even a very close result which fell for its removal might serve as a wake up call which fell short of the kind of consequences that a Border Poll would bring and perhaps start a process in the DUP which might result in their sowing some better seeds in time for the change over to when they are a minority
I should have said that I am talking about the NI only backstop rather than the whole UK one so that if the DUP fail to win the referendum then NI stays in the CU and SM after Brexit while Britain is free to leave. For CNRs this would give them perhaps their first chance to have a direct input on the future of NI. While the vote will split largely along sectarian lines I suspect that at the edges of each community there will be a lot of deviation from traditional voting patterns and I would expect this to fall in favour of the Backstop making this a very winnable referendum for either side.
Finally for the Irish government there is probably little enough to be gained other than the merit of doing the right thing. Obviously if the backstop was voted down in the north then its use as a pushing force on Britain towards a soft Brexit or indeed no Brexit would be lost with all of the implications for trade with Britain that this would bring. It would be useful for FG to dodge the current concerted campaign against them by the Independent group in particular though what's the betting that Harris and others would complain about the referendum being a sectarian bun fight which if won by the supporters of the backstop will be represented as a cunning green plan to subvert the Union with a shameless 50%+1 or near it.