Boris shot himself in foot with hard Brexit as EU expert warns ‘there must be a border’

Northern Ireland: 'Must be border somewhere' says Zuleeg

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The Brexit deal that Boris Johnson’s Government negotiated leaves no room for any other solution than a trade barrier in the Irish Sea, according to the chief executive of the European Policy Centre Fabian Zuleeg. Both the European Union and the UK agreed in 2020 to implement customs check in the Irish Sea to avoid a border between the two Irelands, which would directly breach the Good Friday Agreement. But now the unionist DUP argue the Irish Sea border is creating problems like worsening the cost-of-living crisis and further separating Northern Ireland from Great Britain. They refuse to form a government in Northern Ireland until all their concerns are addressed.

Speaking to, Dr Zuleeg says there is no plausible alternative under the current Brexit trade deal.

He said: “What we have is Brexit created a dilemma for Northern Ireland because the UK decided to leave the single market and the customs union.

“That implies that there has to be a border somewhere.

“There can be a lot which is done to make that border as least visible as possible but there will have to be an international border somewhere.

“For a variety of reasons, there was agreement on both sides with also previous UK governments that that border could not be on the island of Ireland.”

“There are many reasons for that”, Dr Zuleeg said.

“But this was something that was agreed.

“So, you then come into the question of what the alternative is.

“We had one alternative that was proposed by the May government which was the backstop.”

“That was rejected politically in the UK”, Dr Zuleeg added. 

“The deal which Boris Johnson then made was the current arrangement, which means that there are some checks in the Irish Sea.

“Those were the only available options on the table

“And now we’re seeing the consequences of that.

“To now say we have to scrap those checks within the Irish Sea cannot be an answer because it comes back to the dilemma we had before.”

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Dr Zuleeg continued: “Unless the UK government would now agree to re-join the single market and the customs union.”

“Then this is the option which in the end was chosen.

“I cannot see the UK going back to the backstop, which eventually also implied single market membership or customs union for the UK.

“So, we’re talking about essentially having to make these checks in the Irish Sea work.”

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