The debacle yesterday over the EU negotiations is not going to get better – because of the Tory stance on leaving the customs union.

Eire insists that there must not be a border between themselves and Northern Ireland – this is a key part of the Good Friday Agreement. However, this causes a problem with the EU. If the UK leaves the customs union and there is a ‘frictionless’ border there is a possibility of both EU and UK businesses using that border as a way of circumventing tariffs. The EU would therefore need there to be a ‘hard’ border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

The DUP insist that Northern Ireland must be treated the same as the rest of the UK and they, rightly, understand the implications of what was on the table yesterday. They could have ended up with Northern Ireland been covered by EU regulations and the rest of the UK following a different system.

The big problem is yet to come. A lot of the products, from toys to electrical goods,  are ‘CE marked’. A manufacturer gets the product approved by their country’s regulatory agency and it’s approved for the whole of the EU. Unless we agree to accept the CE mark, the manufacturer will need to get approval for both here AND the EU and some manufacturers may decide that the UK market isn’t big enough to justify separate certification, in which case we will get less choice. If we accept the CE mark we then are subject to the European Court of Justice – which Theresa May has said is a ‘red line’.

This was all pointed out before the Referendum but it was ‘Project Fear’ – no it’s not it’s the harsh reality of rejecting the benefits that the EU has brought us over the years that most of us weren’t aware of.


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