Britain’s ‘buffer zone’ border proposal ‘bonkers’

Leaked British plans to create a 10-mile “buffer zone” around the border have been described as “bonkers”, “fantastical”, and “like something out of Alice in Wonderland” by both British and Irish Brexit experts.

John McGrane
John McGrane

The British-Irish Chamber of Commerce, Labour, Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin, and the Liberal Democrats criticised the British government’s plan despite saying that, for the first time, it also shows that London accepts that the North must be treated differently to the rest of the UK.

In one of 10 policy options set to be outlined to the EU at a crunch summit on June 28 and 29, British Brexit secretary David Davis has proposed creating a new 10-mile “buffer zone” around the border.

He also suggested giving the North dual EU and UK status as a way to overcome the ongoing difficulties in ensuring a soft border while allowing Britain to leave the EU.

Downing Street sources have claimed the potential plan, which was leaked to The Sun newspaper, provides a clear blueprint for how the current stand-off over the border can be overcome.

However, despite the positive prediction, the move has been ridiculed by experts in both Britain and Ireland who said it is entirely unworkable and underlines the UK government’s failure to form a coherent Brexit plan two years after the country voted to leave the EU.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio’s News at One programme, British-Irish Chamber of Commerce director general John McGrane said the move is “bonkers” and will fail to address the issues at the heart of the stand-off.

“All that happens in some sort of dual territory zone is that business that employs people will have to comply with double regulations and more costs means less jobs,” he said.

 

The business expert’s view was shared by Fianna Fáil Brexit spokeswoman Lisa Chambers, who told the Irish Examiner the buffer zone is “unworkable” as it would amount to “two borders not one”, and questioned if the 10-mile plan is based on anything “or did he just pick it out of the sky?”.

Ms Chambers, whose views were repeated by Labour leader Brendan Howlin and by Sinn Féin, said the buffer zone plan shows the British government “is under pressure to bring something to the June summit” in order to address “their internal civil war, because that is what this is”.

However, she added that one positive from the potential plan is that the British government is now accepting that the North may need to be treated differently to the rest of the UK.

A spokesperson for Taoiseach Leo Varadkar did not respond to a request for comment, while a Department of Foreign Affairs spokesperson said Britain “must engage in a more detailed way” on the Brexit negotiations.

In Britain, the potential plan received a similarly negative response, with the Liberal Democrats describing it as “like something out of Alice in Wonderland”.

Labour MP Chris Leslie, who is a supporter of the Open Britain campaign against a hard Brexit, added: “If there was an award for coming up with unnecessarily complicated and convoluted solutions to self-inflicted problems, David Davis would win it every year.

“The solution to this dilemma is staring David Davis in the face: The UK as a whole must stay in the single market and the customs union.”


Related Articles

Update: Brexit deal could be pushed back to December – Vardakar

Brexit Q&A: What are the obstacles to an EU withdrawal agreement?

Hard border must never return, says presidential candidate Sean Gallagher

The Brexit effect? Irish property sales to UK buyers up 10% in last year

More in this Section

Glanmire residents face 20-week wait for ministerial approval for €8.5m flood relief plan


Breaking Stories

Kerry adventure junkie planning 12,000km solo bike tour through Africa

Daughter of man killed at N20 junction calls on Cork council to consider options other than full closure

Irish Examiner shortlisted for six NewsBrands Journalism Awards

Body of man in late 20s discovered in Galway

Breaking Stories

1 year since Alyssa Milano’s first #MeToo tweet: Have things actually changed for women?

What to wear to a job interview according to a style expert

Online Lives: Megan Kessie - 'Writing my blog became an escape'

Appliance of Science Are all raindrops the same size and shape?

More From The Irish Examiner