As Theresa May meets with representatives of the devolved governments of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales today, one key issue she will have to consider is the status of the Irish border after Brexit. Despite Westminster's focus on controlling the movement of people, the movement of goods could be an equally thorny problem
The issue was highlighted recently in a parliamentary question from the Ulster Unionist MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone:
Tom Elliott: I appreciate the Secretary of State’s point about an open border with the Republic of Ireland, given that four counties of the Republic of Ireland border my constituency, but how does he envisage stopping the smuggling that may take place after Brexit?
David Davis: That is a very good and difficult question. The simple truth is that we have to make a judgment, as is the case with all borders of that nature. Norway and Sweden have a good example of an open border, as do Canada and America. There are small-scale movements, but big-scale movements can be found and dealt with.
There may be good reasons for the Brexit Secretary's preference for an open border given the basic difficulty of mounting physical controls. This is what the British Army had to say on the matter in its review of Operation Banner, it's deployment to Northern Ireland during the Troubles: