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Effectively, if the Northern Ireland backstop is implemented (and remember it is only an insurance policy to be implemented if a FTA between the UK and EU or other arrangements result in regulatory misalignment or tariffs becoming payable) N. Ireland would remain both in the UK and within the Customs Union and Single Market (CUSM).

This would be analogous to Greenland remaining part of the Kingdom of Denmark but outside the EU (following a referendum in Greenland). The EU is agreeable to this and it is a sensible compromise in a situation where a majority in N. Ireland want to remain in the UK, and also in the EU.

If implemented all tariff and other checks on trade between the UK and Ireland will take place at air and sea ports on the Island. (This could result in EU Customs officers being placed at Belfast and Larne ports and Belfast airport or supervising UK customs officers to implement EU law). As a practical matter, this is a lot more doable than trying to put checkpoints on 300 road crossing points along the 500km IE/NI border.

For the purposes of trade N. Ireland will remain part of the EU and trade between N. Ireland and Great Britain will be treated in the same way as any other trade between Great Britain and the EU. (It will not, therefore, be treated as internal UK trade, which is why the DUP are so opposed to it.

However as the DUP has spent the last three years lecturing the Irish government on how new technology could make trade across the Irish Border seamless and friction free, it is difficult for them now to argue that customs controls at ports (which apply to third country imports already) will somehow be a constraint on trade.

Neither Ireland or the UK are part of the Schengen passport free travel zone and that will not change, so the Common travel area between Ireland and the UK will be maintained and travel from both to EU countries within the zone will require passports as before.

I doubt any deal negotiated by Boris Johnson will be approved by the House of Commons, and the only question is whether this results in a change of government without an election, a second referendum, or a general election in some combination or order.

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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Sep 9th, 2019 at 10:08:15 PM EST
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