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Editorial No government would ever be stupid enough to rebuild a border in Ireland

SO WHAT has been learned or confirmed as the result of recent parliamentary melodramas?

First, the obvious reality that there is no majority in the House of Commons for Prime Minister Theresa May's deal with the EU on Britain's withdrawal.

Second, that her withdrawal agreement amounts to a bogus Brexit, locking Britain into most provisions of the EU single market and customs union for the indefinite future with — so the Attorney-General's previously secret advice confirms — no legal exit route.

Third, that the main padlock is the so-called Northern Ireland “backstop,” which guarantees that Northern Ireland will remain in the single market and customs union in perpetuity, should the British government and the EU fail to reach a permanent treaty on trade before the transition period expires in December 2020.

For as long as Northern Ireland remains part of the United Kingdom, the withdrawal agreement's protocol on Ireland effectively binds Britain to the EU single market and customs union also.

The “backstop” mechanism has been included at the insistence of the slavishly pro-EU politicians of the Irish Republic in league not only with the EU Commission but with the pro-EU Prime Minister and Chancellor of Britain as well.

They claim to fear the reconstruction of a “hard border” across the island of Ireland and all the conflict that would ensue.

Yet their concern is wholly contrived. They must be fully aware that it is possible to maintain low or no-friction trade across borders given sufficient goodwill, co-operation and the operation of the most advanced registration, monitoring and checking systems.

They must know about the report of the constitutional affairs committee of the EU Parliament, “Smart Border 2.0: Avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland for Customs control and the free movement of persons.”

Drawing on best cross-border practice on three continents, it concludes unequivocally that there is no need for a “hard border” in Ireland.

Moreover, we all know that no government in Ireland, North or South, or in Britain would ever be stupid enough to rebuild a physical border around the six counties of north-east Ireland.

Theresa May might persuade the EU Commission to help concoct a codicil to conceal the real purpose of the backstop, but that will not fool MPs who genuinely want to implement the result to leave the EU. 

Which brings us to another lesson that needs to be more widely understood. The real power in the European Union does not lie with elected representatives, whether in the Council of Ministers or the sham EU Parliament.

It is the overbearing bureaucrats in Brussels who have shaped, directed and manipulated the bogus Brexit negotiations, aided and abetted by their allies in 10 and 11 Downing Street, in the government's Business Advisory Council, the Bank of England and at or near the top of every mainstream political party in Britain.

That is why it was the unelected commission president who informed MEPs today of what could and could not be done in relation to the backstop.

The EU Commission may not be inclined to throw the Prime Minister a lifeline, much though they prefer a bogus Brexit to a real one.

Like many Labour MPs, they scent the possibility of preventing any kind of Brexit through a second referendum.

That is their intention, regardless of the damage it will do to people's trust in elections, content in the knowledge that it could destroy the prospect of working-class electors putting a left-led Labour government into office.   

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