Peter Foster @pmdfoster Europe Editor of the Daily Telegraph. Formerly based in Washington DC, Beijing and New Delhi. Opinions my own. Apr. 17, 2019 4 min read

So am told this was pretty spicy encounter...but it speaks to the extent that ERG @Jacob_Rees_Mogg @OwenPaterson have just had their heads in the sand on the political ground realities in Ireland - like them or not. 1/short thread

It is no good simply complaining that the Irish or the British governments are not putting their back into technical solutions for an invisible border - which exist nowhere on the planet btw.

The politics of the @BorderIrish are everything in this discussion. /2

Every constituency on that border is Sinn Fein controlled.

You only need to scratch the surface for a second to know that there is no political will to make the fantasy tech border work.

This is as much a reality as camera gantries, drones and blockchain. /3

Regular readers will be bored to death now with why it doesn't work - and both politically and physically. Recap here/4

And the political realities are the same across the Atlantic - as has been clear for months, and which the Irish diaspora/lobby shop is perfectly capable and willing to activate.

This is not a new message from @RepBrendanBoyle /5

Perhaps this visit from the Pelosi delegation might have cut through?

It's not good enough to say 'but Owen Paterson was Northern Ireland secretary for two years, so he must know..'

And then refuse to test your ideas against practical and political realities. /6

And then refuse invitations to visit the border to test your Malthouse plan from groups like @ManufacturingNI @MichaelAodhan
who actually have a lived experience about how the border and its supply chains work. /7

And yet it still goes. As the Tory leadership battle heats up, you've got people like @sajidjavid trying to burnish their Malthouse credentials by flogging very old, very dead horses for their plans for the border. /8

 https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/04/12/revealed-sajid-javid-plan-digital-border-do-away-irish-backstop/ 

Shall we take a look at said 'plan'?

There's the usual vague stuff about 'internet of things' and 'blockchain' and then this.... "fingerprint and facial recognition" technology.... just waiting for Irish nationalists to form an orderly queue to have the fingerprints scanned. /9

There's more. Apparently there will be "interventions" on the route across the border.

And sensors to track the goods...not clear, still, how that works with milk industry? Weigh bridges? As @JP_Biz says, you can't put a RIFID chip on a tanker of milk.../10

And then this, to wash up.

It won't be ready in the rest of the (benign) UK until 2030!

It will require 28 govt agencies to work together...and as the plan admits rather sadly, the Govt doesn't have a v good track record.

And it wd require buy-in from Dublin & Brussels! /11

The point is, this stuff is - frankly - total garbage.

Its Fisherprice, Tonka Toy-level thinking (with the greatest respect for those great brands) and yet it is STILL the basis for political debate in the UK on #Brexit /12

The fear must be that the next Tory leader is going to be elected on a Malthouse ticket which the absolutely overwhelming majority of people who understand the politics and technology of borders knows is a total dud. /13

The fact that @theresa_may lent credence to #Malthouse is to her great discredit, compounding the original sin of failing to confront the basic choice which @CER_EU @JohnSpringford so elegantly expressed a year ago /14

 https://www.cer.eu/insights/theresa-mays-irish-trilemma 

To borrow an overworn phrase, Nothing. Has. Changed.

Same choices. Pick a border. Any border....(a real one, not a fantasy one) and then work backwards from there. /15

And if that means joining a customs union with the EU, then let's have a grown up, numbers-based, jobs and investment-based conversation about the pros and cons of that. /16

Sorry. That wasn't quite the short thread I promised.

Am off for an Easter break now...lets some air out of the tyres. I hope when we get back, the fog might have lifted. But I fear not.

Wishing y'all good break. /17ENDS

PS...given that #Brexit is now stuck in the corridors of Westminster, after the break I'll be doing more general EU/future of Europe stuff while the UK tries to sort itself out. First stop, Spain - for the elections.


You can follow @pmdfoster.



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