Peter Foster @pmdfoster Europe Editor of the Daily Telegraph. Formerly based in Washington DC, Beijing and New Delhi. Opinions my own. Jul. 09, 2019 3 min read

The British-Irish Chamber of Commerce has run rule over "Alternative Arrangements" ideas of @ShankerSingham1 and co...and trashed them.

My report with comment from @nealerichmond @NicoleSykes_ @hayward_katy and others 1/tread 

You can read the full @BrIreCham readout here - only three or four pages - but some selected highlights by me.

[The Chamber, which is bilateral, was founded 2011 to promote IE-UK trade worth £50bn and supporting 400k jobs] /2 

The first point is that - as noted in recent threads - that the @ProsperityUK_ report backed by @GregHands @NickyMorgan01 requires checks, just not "at" the border, diluting commitments in 2017 Joint Report. /3

Second, the fundamental idea of a single UK-Ireland zone for plant/animal product (SPS) regs based on "deemed equivalence" with the EU is a shakey foundation indeed, since it risks Ireland's position in EU single market. @nealerichmond is even straighter. "non-starter" he says/4

Which (and the reports authors who presented to the Chamber in Dublin last Thursday) admit this is pretty big "IF" in their scheme....indeed, there are a bunch more "IF"s when it comes to derogations on where checks are done etc....lots of wishful thinking. /5

Then there was the issue of whether even these ideas were workable....

One food wholesale/retail company in NI estimated they would need "35 vets" per night to make it work - some products need three certifications. /6

Then there was the issue of smuggling, the costs to business - compared to the zero costs of the Irish backstop (which Irish and NI business supports) and the actual viability of many of @shankersingham1 ideas. Here's what they say on the cost point/7 :

But an example of viability. One plan, for larger businesses, is for them to join a trusted trader scheme like the "CSA Platinum programme between Canada and the USA"....but as @hayward_katy from QUB tells me (just back from research trip to US-Canada border) that's a dud /8

All that is pretty much par for the course...the Chamber concludes the Alternative Arrangements would be "worse for businesses" in Ireland and "lack credibility in the reality of how all-island trade actually works". Oooph.

But one more interesting thing.../9


After the presentation the Chamber drew a fascinating insight:

Not only does the AAC want to dilute the Joint Report, but they *really* want an all-Ireland solution - even if they accept that the DUP won't wear it now. /10

This is important - and it was hinted at again in the AAC's interim report exec summary here. A paragraph worth re-reading. /11 

The implications seem pretty clear - when it comes down it, the Brexiteer commission on fixing the Irish border reckons the @duponline will need to compromise to deliver Brexit for Great Britain. The solution will have to be some form of all-Ireland alignment. /12

And this isn't all that hypothetical, because the AAC report basically already admits that it won't work:

"We accept that this would be difficult to negotiate" its says of the SPS/equivalence regime on which the entire plan is founded. /13

The @BrIreCham fisking of their plan is yet further proof, if it were needed, that the "abundant" technical fixes promised by @BorisJohnson are miles short of workable.

So if not that, then what? /14

The AAC already seems to hint at the answer, once Stormont institutions are back up, there will have to be a great deal more flexibility on the DUP 'red lines'. /15

Part of me even wondered whether all the talk of 'Free Ports' being re-introduced might provide further smokescreen for softening the idea that Northern Ireland's (already different) position vis-a-vis the EU/GB might become more different. /16

Lastly, what is even more interesting is the lack of outcry from the @duponline on what @ShankerSingham1 and co seem to be alluding to....the Party has very noticeably not taken the bait.

Make of that what you will. /17 ENDS

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