No hard Irish border ever required - UK Customs agreed with Irish Customs in 2017

“No border infrastructure needed between N.I. and Ireland under any circumstances” – Head of HMRC

© Facts4EU.Org 2021

UK Parliament was told in 2017 by HMRC it was prevented from agreeing N.I. border solution with Irish colleagues

Informing the World about the EU's vindictive 'Northern Ireland Protocol'
Part Four of a series of reports demonstrating the EU's true nature

The full series:-
Part One - The Protocol itself     |   Part Two - How the EU has threatened peace    |   Part Three - Irish Customs overruled by EU    |   Part Four - UK Customs stopped from solution by EU (this report)    |   Part Five - Trade involved is minuscule

In Part Three of this series yesterday, Facts4EU.Org published the testimony of the heads of the Irish Revenue to the committee of their own parliament, the Dáil, four years ago in 2017. This showed that according to Irish Customs:

  1. Simple solutions were available without the need for the Northern Ireland Protocol, and
  2. No infrastructure (“a hard border”) would be required, and
  3. Irish Customs were prevented from speaking to their British counterparts

Today we publish the damning testimony of the UK Customs boss, backing up his Irish colleagues

In 2017 Sir Jon Thompson was Chief Executive and Permanent Secretary at HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). On Wednesday 29 November 2017 he gave formal testimony to the UK Parliament's Exiting the European Union Committee, chaired by arch-Remainer Hilary Benn MP.

Brexit Facts4EU.Org Summary

HMRC testimony to UK Parliament, 2017

  • No infrastructure between N.I. and Ireland is required under any circumstances
  • HMRC boss tells it like it is over Irish question
  • New customs system was on schedule and would be online two months before the first planned Brexit
  • HMRC were not allowed to discuss new arrangements with Irish and French customs

UK and Irish Customs in broad agreement back in 2017, then stopped from implementing

Sir Jon’s testimony supports that of his Irish colleagues and is damning for the EU and for the Irish government.

Brexit Facts4EU.Org Summary


Sir Jon Thompson giving evidence to the Exiting the European Union Committee, Wed 29 Nov 2017. Testimony was given on the basis that the entire UK (including Northern Ireland) would be OUT of the Single Market, and OUT of the Customs Union

On the new Customs Declaration Service
Sir Jon Thompson, Head of HMRC: “Actually the project is completely on track. We have every confidence it will be completed by January 2019. The project has met all of its milestones in the current year. Traders will begin the migration to the new system in July 2018.”
On the Transition Period
Q: “Is it your anticipation that things will just carry on as they are at the moment?”
Sir Jon Thompson, Head of HMRC: “Yes.”
On there being no need for a hard border (nor the Northern Ireland Protocol)
Q: “The government wants no border and no infrastructure - how can the government’s policy be achieved?”
Sir Jon Thompson, Head of HMRC: “The assumption is there’s a negotiated settlement with the EU in which the highly streamlined customs arrangement is adopted. We stay in the common transit convention, there’s mutual recognition of the authorised economic operator scheme, and so on.” [Mr Thompson refers the Committee to the government papers issued on this question in August 2017.]
“Because of the unique Northern Ireland/Ireland situation you need to add on three additional things which are set out in the NI paper.”
“First of all to maximise the authorised economic operator scheme, secondly to seek a derogation for small traders because there needs to be a recognition that the border area is very much a local economy in which traders cross the border on a regular basis, and thirdly that we would move to a system of self-assessment, which is set out in the Union Customs Code and which is very much the direction of travel for the European Union.”
“We believe that would cover the vast majority of trade between Ireland and Northern Ireland. If there were any checks they would be risk and intelligence based checks and they would take place well away from the legal border.”
Q: “In the event of no deal, would it be possible to achieve no border infrastructure?”

Sir Jon Thompson, Head of HMRC: “It’s possible for the government to make a unilateral decision of what it will do at the border, which would be in line to my answer to your previous question.”

“We do not believe we require any infrastructure between Northern Ireland and Ireland under any circumstances.”

On the EU preventing the UK and Irish Customs organisations from implementing solutions
Q: “Have you had any dealings with the Irish about this?”
Sir Jon Thompson, Head of HMRC: “There are no formal conversations with either the French or the Irish. We cannot talk to Customs or taxation management organisations in either of those countries. There are only informal conversations with the Belgians and the Dutch.”
Q: “From everything you’ve said, this isn’t much of an issue, or am I missing something? From our point of view, there’s no reason why it can’t be business as usual?”
Sir Jon Thompson, Head of HMRC: “That is correct. That is correct. That is the consistent advice we have given ministers.”

The above is the formal testimony of the then Chief Executive and Permanent Secretary at HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), Sir Jon Thompson, in November 2017 to a committee of the UK Parliament. Facts4EU.Org has repeatedly tried to get this into the public domain.


Both the EU and the Irish Varadkar government carry a heavy responsibility

It’s clear that both the Irish and British Customs organisations were very frustrated at not being allowed to speak to each other. It’s equally clear that they shared the same pragmatic approach in implementing workable solutions which would still avoid a hard border and would have avoided any ‘Protocol’ of the type insisted upon by the EU.

When reviewing the testimony of the Irish Customs which we provided yesterday, and the British Customs which we’re providing today, it must be remembered that these people are public servants. They were unable to say what they truly felt. We have watched – and had to transcribe laboriously – their testimony to their respective parliaments. Their frustration is plain to see.

If they had been allowed by the EU and by the Dublin government to get on with their jobs, working together to sort out the simplest solutions, they would have put in place a soft border plan almost faster than you can say “British bangers barbecued in Bangor”.

Instead, these highly experienced and willing public servants were stopped in their tracks by ideologically-based diktats from Brussels and Dublin.

The N.I. border issue is a damning symbol of the rot at the heart of the entire EU ‘Projekt’

For years Facts4EU.Org has provided evidence on the whole question of the Northern Ireland border, the EU’s Protocol, and the sheer insanity of what should have been a non-issue being blown up up into something which now threatens peace in Northern Ireland and which seriously risks the fragmentation of the United Kingdom.

Only a dysfunctional and bullying cabal in the heart of Brussels could have dreamt this up, with the aid of an Irish political class seeing an opportunity to seize part of the territory of the United Kingdom for itself.

In Part Five of this series we will put the final nail in the coffin of the EU’s Northern Ireland Protocol

The EU consistently says that it is acting “to protect the integrity of the Single Market”. Utter nonsense, as we shall prove in our final report. Can you help us by sponsoring this series? We badly need funding to continue. We are a 'not for profit' team (we make a loss) and any donation goes towards the actual work, not plush London offices, lunch or taxi expenses, or other luxuries of some organisations. Nor do we ask you for further donations if you donate once - we just hope that you keep supporting us.

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[ Sources: UK Parliament ] Politicians and journalists can contact us for details, as ever.

Brexit Facts4EU.Org, Sun 13 Jun 2021

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