“An east-west border is just far simpler. The 2.5 hours of the ferry crossing enable the driver to get all the paperwork sorted online, and does away with the need for border checkpoints,” he says.
Hauliers’ interests aside, the creation of any kind of north-south border would incentivise Northern-based businesses simply to relocate to the Irish Republic, putting more pressure on local politicians to prioritise jobs over politics.
“We are already looking at setting up an office in the south,” Mr Nelson adds, “because many of our clients have made clear they will move south as a contingency plan in the event of a border arriving, or there being no deal at all.”
For agri-businesses, like LacPatrick, a milk-co-operative that has processing facilities on both sides of a border where a total of 600 million litres of milk crosses in both directions each year, avoiding regulatory disparities and north-south price differentials caused by differing tariff regimes, is even more essential.
“If you have two regimes and a huge disparity in the price of certain things between the UK and the EU, this is going to give a huge opportunity for illegality which undermines legitimate business and only give rise to more illegality,” says Gabriel D’Arcy, the chief executive of LacPatrick who as a young man patrolled the now-defunct border for the Irish Army.