Back here in the real world the fact (and I use that word advisedly) is that the EU shares a 300-mile land border with the UK. If the EU and the UK wish to leave that border as it is then we have no choice but to commit to maintaining EU regulations with regards to the production of goods and services. If we don’t then the EU risks goods that do not conform, or become subject to tariffs, flooding unregulated across that border. The EU will have no choice but to install border checks, and these checks will need to be physically located on the border – remote checks will not work as smugglers do not, by definition, stick to the rules. Given that our current government has made it abundantly clear that it has no intention of committing to EU regulations, then a ‘hard’ border becomes inevitable.
There are only three ways in which this could be avoided. One is to carry out those checks in the Irish Sea, as the Withdrawal Agreement suggests. However the proposed Internal Market Bill seeks to scupper that. Another would be for Ireland to leave the EU and commit to following UK regulations, which seems highly unlikely. Alternatively Northern Ireland could leave the UK and either reunite with Ireland or align itself to EU regulations as an independent country, something no Brexiteer would countenance. Sadly, until this government returns to the real world, the most likely victim looks to be the Good Friday Agreement.