DEAR SIR: The negotiating tactics of the UK raise a suspicion that the UK may not be negotiating in good faith and is seeking an excuse to maintain a prolonged confrontation with the EU. The implications of that, if true, would go far beyond trade.
This suspicion is fuelled by the fact that the UK is challenging the role of the European Court of Justice as the final arbiter of the meaning of EU law. This is a fundamental issue for the EU. It is the basis on which the EU single market rests.
The UK demand, if it were to be conceded, would introduce uncertainty about the meaning of EU rules. That is why it will not be conceded and I believe the UK has known from the outset, that it would not be conceded.
The chair of the House of Commons Defence Committee, Tobias Ellwood MP, worried recently about the effect of the continuing dispute over Brexit on the security of Europe, including Britain.
He said: “There is a 1930s feel to the world today.” He is right. Brexit is part of a pattern. As in the 1930s, we are now seeing countries (including his own) breaking treaties. We are seeing concessions being met, not by compromise, but by escalating demands.
As Irish farmers also discovered in the 1930s, a trade war, with Ireland on one side and Britain on the other, would be devastating for rural Ireland. It could arise suddenly and unlike climate change, there would be no time for adaptation. But the concern is not confined to Ireland.
The world faces major crises in Serbia, Belarus, Ukraine, the South China Sea and the Taiwan Straits.
It has to implement actions against climate change and COVID-19.
It is not in the interest of Britain, Ireland or any party in Northern Ireland to turn customs checks on goods into an international crisis.