If gates are left open, people will walk through them

This, from Brendan O’Neill, is worth a read:

[T]he political elites cannot come out and say ‘We no longer want Britain to be a democratic sovereign nation’. So they developed a pseudo-progressive language to describe and justify their weakening of British sovereignty. They claim to be post-borders. They argue that the nation state is over. They say any defence of the nation is nationalism, and nationalism is dangerous. They insist that in a globalised world it is futile to try to erect borders against flows of people or goods or capital, and so on. And they seem ignorant of the message that their anti-borders, anti-nation political myopia sends to both the British people and the world at large. It tells British people their views don’t really matter, certainly not as much as cleverer people in Brussels. And it tells the world that Britain is a pretty porous place, not really that keen on protecting its borders. That it is a post-country, effectively, beholden to external influence and flows rather than being assertively, democratically sovereign. Perhaps now we might think about the kind of message this self-denuding cult of post-nationhood sends to more confident nations like Russia.

Indeed, we should not be surprised that a nation whose political and intellectual elites continually say ‘We are post-nation and we are open to the flows and fluxes of the globe’ might also find itself more open to the opportunism of states that have scores to settle here. After all, we effectively said: ‘We have no borders.’

I have to say, having seen over the last few years acts of despicable violence carried out on British soil by people who were in every meaningful sense foreigners (and in some cases unequivocally so), I find the outrage over Russians running about killing people a little…inconsistent. If Putin were a little less pasty and a bit more Muslim, I doubt we’d be making such a fuss. I’d find all this tough talk over Russia a lot more convincing if we’d not been so pathetically weak in every other area of national security, protecting the public, and looking out for our long-term interests.


Testing Times

Okay, so I’ve spent the morning trying to think of a reason why Putin would order this hit on Skirpal in a way that implicates Russia. Let’s look at something Jean said in the comments:

Quite simple people – as much as Putin would like to see NATO gone, he is far more interested in breaking up the EU. After the last expansion of both organizations, in 2004, he was asked whether he would cooperate with both and he replied that he couldn’t imagine not working with them. He changed his tune in 2005 after the EU commission starting talking about bringing an anti-trust case against Gazprom.

Perhaps unfairly I initially dismissed this, but let’s suppose he’s she’s right. From an outsider’s perspective, Britain and the EU are at each other’s throats, trading insults and seemingly as divided as ever as the Brexit negotiations lurch on in fits and starts. It may suit Putin to test the EU’s commitment to Britain and measure their hostility to Russia. Would the EU rush to Britain’s aid in the wake of a hostile Russian act, or will they mince their words and do nothing? The former would require principles and the belief that Russia is indeed a threat to Germany or France (the rest of the EU doesn’t count). The latter would be driven by EU hatred of Britain over Brexit and Germany’s considerable commercial interests in Russia. It’s not difficult to see how this will play out. I’d not be too surprised if Macron denounced Russia, whatever else you may think of the young French president, he doesn’t just say what everyone else wants him to. But this is weak sauce:

Mrs May spoke to French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday and “discussed the wide pattern of aggressive Russian behaviour and agreed that it would be important to continue to act in concert with allies to address it”, her spokesman said.

What allies? Germany? Heh.

Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the use of any nerve agent was “horrendous and completely unacceptable” and officials were in touch with the UK.

Downing Street said the incident was not an “article five” matter – a reference to Nato rules which say an attack on one member constitutes an attack on all.

No? Why not? I don’t think going to war with Russia is a good idea at all, but if this is a direct attack on the British people by the Russian government, as we are being told, then why does this not trigger Article 5? I know the answer: Article 5 is to be triggered only when it suits the geopolitical interests of the US. Which is fair enough, they’re the ones who will do the bulk of the nuking and the fighting.

So what will the Americans do? This is what the BBC reported:

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the US agreed with the UK that Russia was likely to be behind the attack.

“We agree that those responsible – both those who committed the crime and those who ordered it – must face appropriately serious consequences,” he added.

“We stand in solidarity with our allies in the United Kingdom and will continue to coordinate closely our responses.”

Naturally, many people who think any hesitation on Trump’s part to launch an all-out nuclear strike on Moscow is proof that he’s Putin’s puppet, but we can ignore these idiots even though they’re many in number. But I don’t see why America is under any obligation to get involved here. Britain isn’t a particularly great ally of the United States right now: the public have generated considerable noise in letting Donald Trump know he won’t be welcome should he visit the United Kingdom, and he should expect mass protests of a size not seen since the Iraq War demonstrations. John Bercow, the speaker of the House of Commons, has publicly stated that he would oppose the current US president from addressing parliament, and both Theresa May and Amber Rudd saw fit to chastise Trump for daring to retweet a video which made Muslims look bad. Sadiq Khan seems to think the office of London’s mayor has a foreign policy element, and that should be directed at criticising Trump. Then yesterday a credible story circulated that an American citizen had been denied entry into the United Kingdom because her Austrian boyfriend says mean things about Muslims.

At this point, Donald Trump would be forgiven for thinking Britain should deal with its own problems for a change. The Russians have attacked you? Oh dear. Perhaps you ought to have focused on Russian agents running around your cities with nerve agents instead of endlessly insulting me and telling me what I can and cannot share on Twitter. If I’m honest, I hope he says just that (see bobby b’s comment here, too).

So this issue is going to severely test the relationship Britain has with the US, as well as what remains of their relationship with the EU. Even if Putin was not behind this attack, he will be paying serious attention to what each leader says, and what actions they’re prepared to support. It seems an overly complicated and risky way to go about it, but perhaps this was his plan all along? We’ve got to consider it. Let’s see what the Russians say today in response to May’s demand for an explanation. I may have to acknowledge Jean called this right from the start.


Trump on Trade

He’s a funny fella, Trump. With a single tweet he’s got everyone denouncing tariffs and other protectionist policies, with even the BBC writing articles on how damaging they are. Suddenly everyone is a proponent of unfettered free trade, which until last week was the preserve of libertarians versed in Austrian economics and fans of Tim Worstall’s blog.

I mean, up until a few days ago we had the EU mandarins and Remainers assuring Brexiteers that tariffs will be implemented once Britain departs without anyone from the mainstream media pointing out this will hurt the EU more than it will Britain. In fact, most were insisting the exact opposite. Yet with a single tweet representing perhaps three seconds of thought, Trump has inadvertently got everyone agreeing on how stupid import tariffs are. Not that anyone running the EU, which operates some of the most protectionist policies anywhere in the world, understands free trade. But it does give the Brexiteers some ammunition with which to respond to the threat of tariffs in ongoing negotiations.

Tariffs don’t make economic sense of course, and free trade does make us richer on aggregate. But the ZMan makes a reasonable point here:

The hidden cost of free trade is a lot of people you don’t know losing their jobs or seeing their wages cut. When you’re the guy getting the pink slip, the cost is not hidden and that has a social cost, as well.

This is a point many Remainers miss about Brexit: not everything is about economics. Britain may well be worse off economically after leaving the EU, but many British people don’t believe wrecking whole communities through mass immigration (which is often highly localised) is an acceptable price to pay for half a percentage point increase in GDP. Of course, the financial gurus in London don’t mind because it’s not their communities being wrecked. Note that the strongest proponents of open borders work in professions which are closed shops, hence immune from the influx of cheap labour. If Polish accountants, Portuguese doctors, and Romanian law firms could compete freely for business in London, we’d see a wholesale change in attitude from the ruling classes.

The ZMan goes on:

The fact is, a nation is its people. What defines France is the shared character and shared heritage of the people we call French. What defines a people is not the cost of goods or the price of labor. What defines a people is what they love together and what they hate together. It is the collection of tastes and inclinations, no different than family traditions, that have been cultivated and passed down from one generation to the next.

Perhaps mass immigration has brought economic benefits to Europe, but it has also brought about an erosion of social trust, particularly in certain areas where unskilled migrants are concentrated. Did anyone ask the people who live in these areas their approval before upending their society? Or did we all assume that provided everyone gets richer on aggregate, such societal costs are acceptable (particularly if you and I don’t actually have to pay them)?

It’s the same with trade. I am all for free trade, and I don’t believe in tariffs for the reasons people say. However, there needs to be an acknowledgment that there are both winners and losers of free trade, and even though the winners vastly outnumber the losers, we should not glibly deny that losers exist. For decades, the consensus among the ruling classes has been that the losers of global free trade shouldn’t be considered at all – unless they can cause political trouble like farmers in France, or have family and friends in government like lawyers everywhere – and they are acceptable casualties in the battle for economic growth. Well, regardless of what the solutions to their plight are – assuming there are any – I believe we should start by acknowledging that there are losers of free trade, and understand their concerns. It’s easy to wave a hand and say “they can do something else” and make references to blacksmiths and motorcars, but retraining is pretty difficult in a town flooded with low-skilled migrants. And blacksmiths didn’t go out of business because the state encouraged cheap car plants to be built next door while punishing those who used anvils.

Consider NAFTA, for example. This has allowed Chinese companies to set up in Mexico with no intention whatsoever of supplying goods and services to Mexico, instead using it as a back door to the USA while bypassing their environmental and social regulations. Sure, the US now gets flooded with cheap goods making everyone richer on aggregate, only swathes of the country now consists of condemned towns perishing under an unprecedented opiate crisis. This is progress how?

A big part of Trump’s presidential campaign was acknowledging the losers of free trade and globalisation, which went a long way to propelling him into the White House – while his rival hob-nobbed with billionaires and poured scorn on the unemployed working classes. His latest comments on Twitter have now got everyone discussing the folly of tariffs in general, but also forcing them to acknowledge the social costs of free trade policies and the people who’ve found themselves disenfranchised. While this remains just a tweet and doesn’t translate into bone-headed protectionism, I don’t think this is a bad thing. Hopefully some sensible policies will come out of this, not least between Britain and the EU.


Brexit or the Good Friday Agreement?

Alas we never hanged Tony Blair, so he is free to come out with rubbish like this:

What I find sickening is that the Good Friday Agreement apparently locks us into the EU in perpetuity, and this detail was kept from the British public by the treacherous Prime Minister who signed it.

I’m not so sure the British people are as wedded to the Good Friday Agreement as the establishment types think: firstly, many people don’t think those amnesties should have been granted in the first place, and secondly terrorism – or rather, the methods of dealing with it – have changed considerably since the days of the Troubles. Anyone suspected of terrorism could find himself on an MI5 watch list which is shared with the FBI, making life rather difficult for them indeed.

If, as the likes of Blair and the EU mandarins are saying, the choice comes down to enacting Brexit or keeping the Good Friday Agreement, I say we put the latter through the shredder. We’ll deal with the consequences if and when they arise.


Thicket Untrimmed

Me, writing in July 2016:

I am also not convinced Brexit will result in pettyfogging EU regulations being torn up: we were the only country to employ armies of people in hi-viz vests bearing clipboards to ensure they were being followed to the letter, and it’s not like any of the current crop of politicians from any party believe in light regulation and small government. I can expect a huge lobbying effort being made to recreate all those “essential” EU regulations in a post-EU Britain, to be managed by sprawling government bureaucracies crammed full of civil servants. “Just think of all the jobs it will create!” will be the cry, once “Think of the children!” has faded.

David Davis, yesterday:

Britain will not be “plunged into a Mad Max-style world borrowed from dystopian fiction” after it leaves the EU, the Brexit secretary will say in a speech.

David Davis will say fears about a “race to the bottom” in workers’ rights and environmental standards are “based on nothing”.

He will argue for continued close co-operation between the UK and the EU on regulations and standards.

Why do I get the nasty feeling that Britain’s post-Brexit regulatory regime is going to go an awful lot further than the minimum required to sell goods and services to the single market? I can understand that technical standards need to be adopted, but why should Britain care what the EU thinks about its workers’ rights? It’s not as if they’re going to be sending kids down mineshafts and up chimneys, the differences will be over stuff like paternity leave and whether freelancers should be considered employees.

It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that Brits actually like this endless nannying by the government. If you don’t believe me, spend an hour on Mumsnet. Those people have the vote too, you know.


The EU Withdrawal Bill

I confess, I’m not too sure what’s going on here:

Theresa May is due at a summit in Brussels, hours after Conservative rebels in the Commons defeated the government in a key Brexit vote.

MPs backed an amendment giving them a legal guarantee of a vote on the final Brexit deal struck with Brussels.

One rebel, Stephen Hammond, was sacked by the prime minister as a party vice chairman in the aftermath of the vote.

I think this might be the key passage:

It will not derail Brexit but MPs who voted against the government hope it will give them a bigger say in the final deal Theresa May strikes with Brussels.

The government had promised a “meaningful vote” for MPs on the final Brexit deal, but this defeat means that promise now has legal force and must happen before any UK-EU deal is implemented in the UK.

I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing for Brexiteers. Firstly, I heard this EU Withdrawal Bill contained passages which effectively gave unlimited power to the government with no oversight. I don’t know whether the vote last night has removed those clauses, but I’m not going to be too upset that someone like May is getting a kicking from the back-benches over a bill with stuff like this in.

Secondly, a few months ago I wasn’t too happy at the prospect of parliament having an effective veto over the final agreement with the EU over Brexit. Back then I thought the most likely scenario is one whereby we get a reasonable deal which gets scuppered by a hardcore Remain parliament, but now I think it’s far more likely May & Co. will sign us up to the worst deal imaginable with concession after concession in return for almost nothing leaving us in the EU in all but name. If this is what the negotiation progress brings, and the EU continue to display their staggering arrogance towards the people of the UK, the make-up of parliament in 2-3 years time may well be firmly behind Leave and can subsequently reject it. In other words, I think the benefit of a Leave-leaning parliament being able to reject a terrible deal outweighs the risk that a Remain-leaning parliament will reject a reasonable deal.

How this will all play out, and what shape parliament will be in on the day the vote is taken, is anyone’s guess. But one thing is still abundantly clear: May needs to go, immediately.


The Rights of EU Citizens

When I first moved to France I did so as an EU citizen, as you probably guessed. Under EU law, the non-EU spouses of EU citizens residing in an EU country other than their own are entitled to receive a residency card within 3 months of application. In practice, this means the non-EU spouse gets an entry visa in their home country and arrives in the EU country to join their partner: he or she is entitled to stay as long as they like, even once the initial visa expires, and is entitled to work because their rights are statutory and not dependent on receiving a residency card. However, for all practical purposes such as opening a bank account or leaving then re-entering the country, they will need a residency visa.

When I tried to apply for my wife’s in France, I was told there was a 6-week wait before they could accept her application. We waited 6 weeks and the bureaucrat at the prefecture said our paperwork was not in order and the application was rejected. I hired a lawyer who pointed out to the prefecture by law they were not allowed to reject the application for that reason, and the head bureaucrat shrugged and said “So what?”. They made us wait another 6-weeks in contravention of their own laws, so 12 weeks passed before we finally got the application in. EU law says the residency card must be issued within no more than 3 months, but 3 months passed and no card. The bureaucrats at the prefecture shrugged and said “So what?” I called the EU ombudsman to intervene, and they were very helpful, but they couldn’t get the bureaucrats at the prefecture to cooperate. Eventually the ombudsman called the French ministry of the interior and got someone to kick some ass in the prefecture, and we got a notice saying the card was ready for collection: this was some 5 months after the application, and 8 months after we’d first walked into the prefecture. When we went to collect the card they demanded 300 euros, but EU law says it must be issued for free. I called the ombudsman who called the French Interior Minister who called the prefecture who told them to give it to me for free. When the guy handed it over he said “Sorry, but we don’t know any of the EU laws. They don’t give us any training here.”

The whole episode taught me that the rights of EU citizens are enjoyed only at the discretion of the bureaucrat sat in front of you. If they refuse to recognise them, then they’re not really rights at all. Disgracefully, the prefecture insures itself against legal action by capping any compensation lower than what it would cost to hire a lawyer even for a day. I raised this with the ombudsman and warned her that there is a strong sentiment among the British that costs of membership of the EU simply aren’t worth it because the supposed rights we enjoy often don’t materialise in practice, and I had now joined their ranks. This was back in early 2015, so before the Brexit vote. I contacted UKIP to see if they’d be interested in my experience, and they directed me towards some eurosceptic MEPs in Brussels. They asked me for details, I provided them, and never heard a thing back afterwards. For my wife’s part, the experience put her off living in France completely and she skedaddled the day after she got her card and never returned in any meaningful sense.

Although living in France I undoubtedly benefit from my rights as an EU citizen, it is undeniable that these are still subject to the whims of the local bureaucrats. In other words, they’re not rights at all. When I hear everyone wailing about how British citizens might lose their rights in EU countries when the UK leaves, I shrug and recall how we had to stand in line for hours with several hundred Africans on a dozen separate occasions, plus shell out over a thousand wasted euros, in order to exercise those rights. My non-EU colleagues, who weren’t labouring under the illusion of getting any rights recognised by a French prefecture, simply fell in line and went through the normal process. When we compared notes, I couldn’t for the life of me see how their experience was any different from ours.

I get the impression a lot of people who claim to be worried about their rights in the EU after Brexit have never actually tried exercising them. I’m happy to take my chances in whatever regime follows.


We’ve agreed an agreement is necessary

Years ago I was an engineer working with a team that was being sent to site to carry out a load of construction works. Nothing too major, but no matter what the workscope any  company showing up on site has to have in place a Site Safety Plan, which is a document identifying all the risks associated with the works and how they intend to manage them. Any contractor working in the oil and gas business will have a procedure describing how to prepare a Site Safety Plan, and it will typically contain prescriptive instructions such as:

– A hazard identification workshop and risk ranking exercise shall be carried out prior to mobilisation.

– A risk mitigation plan shall be put in place detailing how each identified hazard shall be managed such that the residual risk is as low as reasonably practicable.

– Tool-box talks shall be prepared and tailored to address the residual risks associated with the works.

In short, prior to mobilising to site, the Safety Manager leads an exercise in identifying the risks and mitigating against them, which usually involves compiling (or writing) numerous procedures related to the execution of the works (e.g. excavations, lifting, vehicular transport, etc.) This will all be collated in the Site Safety Plan and communicated to everyone involved, including the owners of the site, and demonstrates that the risks involved with the works have been properly thought about and are being managed. (Bardon will know all this stuff backwards and inside-out, as would anyone who’s spent time on a site.)

Anyway, our Safety Manager was given several weeks to prepare this document, and a few days before mobilisation it was passed to me for review. This is what I read:

– A hazard identification workshop and risk ranking exercise shall be carried out prior to mobilisation.

– A risk mitigation plan shall be put in place detailing how each identified hazard shall be managed such that the residual risk is as low as reasonably practicable.

– Tool-box talks shall be prepared and tailored to address the residual risks associated with the works.

Rather than doing the tasks required, the Safety Manager had simply repeated what we were supposed to do prior to mobilisation. He had completely failed to understand that now was the time to do what was required. Or he had no idea how to, and just winged it. I suspect the latter.

I was reminded of this when I turned on the TV this morning to see Theresa May and Jean-Claude Juncker telling everyone a deal had been struck such that Brexit talks can now move forward. But when journalists asked for details, such as the shape of the final agreement on the Northern Ireland border, the response was that they’d agreed than an agreement must be reached. Via Gareth Soye on Twitter, I found this excerpt from the report which supposedly gives us more detail:

Since the result of the Brexit vote was known, the question was always how to reconcile a differing regulatory regime either side of the border without putting in place a hard border. This was supposedly something that had to be agreed before the talks could proceed, but in the finest style of a modern corporate manager they’ve just said:

“We will not have a separate regulatory regime for Northern Ireland nor a hard border. Now, moving on…”

I suspect the intention of both May and the EU is that this issue will never come up for serious discussion again because, one way or another, the UK will remain in the EU in all but name.


More on that Irish Border

It should come as no surprise that the BBC’s reporting on this is absolutely abysmal:

Theresa May is under pressure to get an agreement from the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) on the status of the Irish border when the UK leaves the EU.

The prime minister pulled out of a deal with Brussels that would have kick-started trade talks after meeting fierce resistance from the DUP.

The party said it would not accept a deal which saw Northern Ireland treated differently from the rest of the UK.

The BBC, along with most of the Remain establishment, is presenting this as if it’s only the DUP which is standing in the way of an agreement between the EU and UK in advance of trade talks. In reality, I suspect a great many Tory MPs, more than a few old-school Labour MPs, and a large percentage of the British population would also object vehemently to Theresa May deciding for herself that Northern Ireland should remain under the jurisdiction of the EU at the behest of the Irish government and their masters in Brussels. Anyone who thinks this is a minor detail being blocked by a gaggle of DUP hardliners really doesn’t understand the issue at all. Or they do, but are spinning it differently for political gain.

I don’t think it’s difficult to see what’s going on here. The EU wants to see Brexit reversed so have chosen the NI border issue as one of several extremely politically unpalatable topics to be resolved before “trade talks” can supposedly start. I don’t for one minute believe actual trade talks will start: what will happen is the EU will secure concession after concession from the hapless May before torturing us with years of bad-faith negotiations aimed at punishing the British for daring to leave, ending in no deal whatsoever. The forerunner to this is demanding Britain puts in place a hard border in NI while at the same time telling us this is unacceptable. You’d have to be willfully blind not to see the game being played: if these discussions really did concern a border with Ireland, there are several options which could be discussed in a mature and sensible manner. Instead we’re getting ridiculously short ultimatums, threats, interference from chancers like Sadiq Khan, and posturing in front of a gullible and complicit media.

I don’t believe the media when they say the two sides were close to a deal yesterday. I don’t think we’re any closer than they were the morning after the referendum, for the simple reason there is no deal to be had. The media peddled this line because they want to pin the blame on the DUP, and force May to choose between them and the EU. She’s damned either way, which is exactly what the Remain establishment want.

Apparently a deal must be reached by the end of the week. If May caves in, she’ll be out of office before Christmas. People are worried about Corbyn but I think I’d rather see that idiot in charge for a brief term (and it would be brief) rather than May crumble in front of every EU demand for the next few years. I don’t think it would ever come to that, though. If May is forced from office over an issue such as this, a solid Leave Tory would likely win the subsequent election (David Davis, putting himself forward as the “Brexit PM), and interfering harpies like Amber Rudd shoved aside.

There is one good thing which will come out of all of this. Regardless of what happens next – even if Brexit gets reversed and the British population is persuaded to stay in the EU – there can be absolutely no excuse for saying they didn’t fully understand the nature of what they were dealing with. Since the referendum in 1975 the British have always complained they were mislead as to what sort of agreement they were getting into. That line of argument ends pretty much now.


The Border with Ireland

There are a few things I don’t understand about the whole issue of Brexit and the border with Ireland.

Firstly, Ireland is not in the Schengen area and there has been free movement between the UK and Ireland since 1922 as part of the Common Travel Area. If this were to continue (or be resurrected), it would mean all EU citizens could enter the UK via NI without being subject to passport control, but non-EU citizens or visitors wouldn’t be able to, as Ireland isn’t in the Schengen area. Is there any likelihood of Britain being flooded with EU citizens via Northern Ireland in the absence of a hard border? I’d say this is highly unlikely, and if it turns out that tens of thousands of Romanians or French are pouring into Strabane and later taking the ferry to Anglesey, we can probably cross that bridge when we come to it.

Which leaves the main problem being that of customs. Switzerland is in the Schengen area but not in the customs union. That’s why if you drive from Annecy to Geneva you pass through a customs post with bollards, chicanes, and an absence of anyone manning it. I’ve been pulled over once and I when I explained I was going to Switzerland solely to change the PIN number on my Credit Suisse ATM card, the man’s face looked more confused than if I’d told him I was smuggling cuckoo clocks. If this is what a hard border between the customs union and a neighbouring country looks like, I’m not sure what all the fuss is about.

Actually, I do. The EU is worried that goods might pass between Britain and the EU via NI without being subject to the tariffs they wish to put in their way. I don’t think anyone in Britain is particularly worried about EU goods being smuggled into Britain and avoiding British tariffs. At least anyone sensible. The EU therefore want a hard border to prevent this, but they don’t want to be seen as imposing it because that would seriously piss off the Irish on the south side. So, from what I can tell, the EU is demanding the British put in a hard border to keep the two customs regimes separate and making out it is a British obligation as a result of Brexit. The advantage in this is that it would make the Brits extremely unpopular, and the whipped-up anger from rent-a-gobs in Ireland can be used to bash Brexiteers over the head.

Which leaves me wondering why the British government doesn’t simply say:

“We have no interest in a hard border, but we may put a few cursory customs posts on our side if we feel like it. If the Irish or EU want a hard border and to control everything that goes in or out, they are free to put one in place – on their side of the line.”

Am I missing something here? Or is the reason we are not saying this simply that Theresa May is blitheringly stupid and incompetent? That I could well believe.

Also, I don’t think waving the Good Friday agreement around is a sensible tactic. Firstly, the British public were not informed that signing the Good Friday agreement meant the UK could never leave the EU; had they been, it would never have been passed. Secondly, there are probably a good few Brits – especially among those who voted Leave – who might want to scrap the Good Friday agreement and immediately move to prosecute the likes of Gerry Adams and others who have blood on their hands. This is particularly true while former British soldiers are still being hauled in front of courts for their conduct forty years ago. The more attention is drawn to the Good Friday agreement, the more Brits might be inclined to revisit it – particularly if it is being held up as a blocking point to leaving the EU.

And let’s be honest, for all the squawking about the Good Friday agreement, that ship has sailed. Terrorism is a lot less fun these days – the perpetrators tend to get killed outright – and the Americans are strangely less inclined to fund the murder of civilians since 9/11. The main players who were making the bombs and laying the traps for the British during The Troubles are well past retirement age now, and won’t have much stomach for returning to the field against an opponent which is a lot more technically savvy than they are. Is there a new generation of nationalist youngsters ready to dig up the arms caches and start fighting the British over an EU-imposed hard border between NI and Eire? I highly doubt it.

It’s high time the British called their bluff and closed this issue out: border or no-border, this is an Irish/EU problem and we don’t care either way.