Opinion

Michael Gove’s attack on EU, not only foolish but dangerous

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Gove

The Chancellor of Duchy of Lancaster, Michael Gove, has stated in a new wave of anti-EU sentiment that if there are any border control issues stemming from Brexit, it will be the EU’s fault. 

By 1 January, the UK will officially no longer be an EU member state which means border control rules will change. 

The UK has postponed full border controls for six months, meaning that importers into the  UK will not have to produce post-Brexit customs declarations or pay any tariffs until 30 June  2021. 

Mr Gove lazily suggested to the Logistics UK group that there would only be “two to three weeks” of disruptions before the border system becomes efficient again. 

The Logistics UK group represents hauliers who transport essential goods in and out of the  UK. These hauliers will be among the first to feel the effects of disruptions on the border. 

Gove went on to say: “The one thing that I can’t do is to determine what’s going to happen on the other side of the border. 

“When it comes to the checks that will be applied, they are going to apply them- I hope not  in an overly-rigid way but it is certainly going to be the case that we cannot expect a sort of  laissez-fair, or flexible approach at Calais, or in other ports.” 

Mr Gove’s statement does little to tackle the concerns surrounding the potential delays for lorries that could be backed up for two-days minimum. Kent, the main import station from Calais, could see up to 7000 lorries being backed up in the region. 

New bureaucratic measures are being pitched by ministers to help reduce the possibility of heavy traffic involving trade lorries. Potential measures include a unique movement reference number for each product, a safety and security declaration, export health certificates and a “passport for Kent”. 

A passport specifically for Kent, while a good idea on paper, could potentially cause even more confusion for border security and could lead to worse lorry traffic. 

Mr Gove’s statement of having a “laissez-fair” approach to border control doesn’t seem to apply to the Irish border, however.  

The Irish Sea trading situation is still up in the air as a full customs agreement has still not been finalised. 

It’s been speculated by ministers that a full agreement may not be rectified until 28  December which doesn’t leave enough time for Northern Ireland to accommodate its border and trading system, potentially leading to serious border issues for the Irish coast.

Additional sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) are already being planned for animal goods in  Northern Ireland ahead of Irish firms stockpiling goods in the prediction of severe trading delays amid border disagreements between the two Irish regions and the rest of the UK. 

Throughout the Brexit negotiations, Northern Irish ministers have consistently criticised the  UK government for ignoring the Good Friday Agreement and not taking into account the needs of the Irish population where free-trade between the Irish Republic and Northern  Ireland benefitted the respective Irish economies. 

Gove’s attitude may not only be dangerous for the UK’s future relationships with foreign countries but could also be dangerous for Irish relations. 

By displaying a carefree attitude towards the EU and Ireland, Gove is potentially reversing decades of diplomatic work that was put into building relations with the Northern Irish devolved powers. 

The Troubles are still fresh in the mind of many British politicians and Gove must remember this as the UK moves forward into leaving the EU in the coming new year.

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