Don’t blink. Don’t even blink. Blink and you’re dead.

Don’t blink. Don’t even blink. Blink and you’re dead.

The DUP have cut off their eyelids. Juncker is offering to help the PM to avoid her fall, as if this was a helpful measure. And the writer of Dr Who believes Brexiteers are an intolerant misogynist (and, possibly, racist) bunch.

Such is politics nowadays.

Of course, blinking is not a good idea, as even Carey Mulligan found out in perhaps the most famous episode of Dr Who of recent times. It was the Doctor who said those lines: “Don’t blink. Don’t even blink. Blink and you’re dead.”

Neither the DUP nor Juncker will be, but enough about children’s programmes.

What people want to know is whether the PM has blinked and whether her eyelids will be moving up and down quickly over the next week. I can’t answer those questions, but I can be very reassured that blinking is an unnecessary action.

On Northern Ireland, even the most intransigent constituent of the EU – its Parliament – knows the current episode is a charade. Its own Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs examined the issue last month, and agreed that there was a “technical solution, based on innovative approaches with a focus on cooperation, best practices and technology that offers a template for future UK-EU border relationships”. They even agreed that this solution was “independent of any political agreements on the UK’s exit from the EU”, not that they want to shout about that.

It boils down to the fact that are more than 200 crossing points along the 300-mile border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, yet the length of this border is dwarfed in comparison by the 1,000-mile one between Norway and Sweden, albeit with about 80 crossings. Whilst Norway is in the European Economic Area and therefore accepts some of the regulations from the EU, it is not part of the Customs Union. Importantly, there is a bilateral agreement between the two countries, signed back in the 1990s, which allows customs cooperation. They have what is considered, maybe even by the EU, as the most advanced customs solution in the world.

Here, the two countries have agreed to have a 10-mile control zone on either side of the border where the customs controls of each government can take place. Both countries can undertake controls for the other, and each will share information with the other. Any goods to be declared must pass through a specified customs location.

To transport declarable goods across the border, a company or individual must make a declaration online an hour before travel, and the two countries have made significant investment in tried and tested technology, including number plate recognition cameras and large scale risk assessment operations.

What can happen on one border of the EU can clearly happen on another, albeit tweaked to accommodate the unique situation in Northern Ireland – and the EU knows it.

On trade, Iain Duncan Smith believes the EU is trying to shackle us with what the UK thinks is constructive ambiguity in its statements. The EU knows these statements will be used as hard and fast rules to commit Britain to aligning its regulations with the EU after it leaves, without any benefit of being able to influence them.

Clearly Iain is on the side of the UK being able to set its own regulatory environment, perhaps able to set up a competitive advantage against the protectionist state of the EU once we leave.

To understand this, one must go back to what was the most honest assessment during the referendum of the future for the UK once we leave. A few months before the vote, Open Europe published its comprehensive Brexit report, which showed the direction of travel we now face. Even though the statistics may have changed by now, these findings have stood the test of time, and been repeated many times elsewhere, not least recently by Economists for Free Trade.

The findings are clear: leaving the EU and reverting to protectionism without deregulation will bring about comparative penury for Britain (the model the Treasury assumed we would follow). Leaving the EU and entering into liberal trade arrangements with the EU and the rest of the world whilst pursuing large-scale deregulation at home, will have a significant beneficial impact on GDP in 15 years’ time. Anything in between will bring penury or benefit, depending on the scale of uptake of policy.

The question therefore is why the Prime Minister was reportedly agreeing to “regulatory alignment”. Does that mean convergence of regulations or simply the voluntary shadowing and implementation of similar regulation? The UK Government thinks the latter, knowing that many regulations are not engineered in the EU, but actually by global organisations and taken up by most Western countries including the EU. Bodies such as the WTO, the Codex Alimentarius Commission, the World Organisation for Animal Health and the International Plant Protection Council are just some of the organisations looking at environmental issues, and there are many others looking at other issues. When we leave, we will take a full seat on these bodies, and influence how regulations are initiated, yet still be able to adopt our own versions through local implementation.

On money, has the UK blinked? Maybe. What is certainly unhelpful is the obvious dispute between No. 10 and No. 11, with the Chancellor stating we will pay the money whatever, and the Prime Minister being much more cautious with our money.

Blinking is a bad idea. Juncker thinks the PM has blinked, and wants to persuade her to carry on. The DUP certainly won’t be blinking. And my analysis of the Conservative Party is that if the PM doesn’t blink, she will have the support of the overwhelming majority of the party, no matter what happens.

And Doctor Who? Well, it is clear the BBC fears it has lost 52% of its audience with the latest regeneration of the Doctor, an illegal alien with obvious transgender traits.

“Blink and you’re dead.” A good lesson for the UK Government.

Photocredit: AntToeKnee Lacey