In February 2019 I had 17455 visitors on this blog. A new record. This is amazing.

Thank you for following the blog and for reading my views on Customs, borders, trade, development, reform, modernization, music, film, sport & Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Now we go for 20.000!

Two leading Brexiteers have said any delay to Brexit would do “incalculable” harm to public trust in politics.

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Tory MP Steve Baker and the DUP’s Nigel Dodds said the “extended uncertainty” would be a “political calamity”.

On Tuesday, Theresa May will again ask MPs to back her Brexit deal, but if they reject it they may get a chance to vote to delay Brexit.

The UK is due to leave the EU on 29 March.

Mr Baker, who is deputy chairman of the pro-Brexit Tory European Research Group (ERG), and Mr Dodds wrote that, for some, any delay would mean “democracy would be effectively dead”.

They added said that such an outcome would be “a costly delay for businesses which have prepared to exit on 29 March”.

Both were confident that without changes to the deal, Mrs May would be “defeated firmly” again on Tuesday.

MPs rejected the prime minister’s deal by 230 votes in January – the largest defeat for a sitting government in history.

If they do the same this week, MPs have been promised a vote on whether the UK should leave without a deal.

If they then reject a no-deal Brexit they could get a vote on Thursday on whether to request a delay to Brexit from the EU.

Since January, the prime minister has been trying to seek assurances from the EU about the so-called Irish backstop – an aspect of her plan which is a sticking point for many MPs.

The backstop is a safety net, designed to maintain an open border on the island of Ireland.

But some MPs fear that – in its current form – the backstop may leave the UK tied to the EU indefinitely.

They want Mrs May to change this aspect of the deal.

Discussions between the UK government and EU officials on how to resolve the problem continued over the weekend.

On Friday, Mrs May said the UK had put forward “serious” proposals to resolve the deadlock.

The BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg said what the EU was offering amounted to a “legal beefing-up of existing promises”.

But Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay and the DUP, the party Mrs May’s government relies on for a majority in Parliament, were both dismissive of the EU’s latest proposal.

Source: BBC News

The House of Commons Northern Ireland Affairs Committee has just published their interim report. It is very interesting reading, so don’t miss it.

I was invited to London to give evidence and to answer questions in front of the committee primarily about my report Smart Borders 2.0, which I was commissioned by the European Parliament Constitutional Committee to do based on research. I was also asked as Customs expert.

My testimony is available in the public domain, Parliamentary TV, if you want to listen to it (approx. 2 hours).

I also noted that a Mr. David Henig gave evidence to the committee. Mr. Henig, who I have never met, is a UK trade policy expert. The profile on LinkedIn says that Henig is Director of the UK Trade Policy Project.

The report states that in his testimony to the committee, Mr. Henig…:

“…expressed reservations about the evidence the Committee heard from Lars Karlsson and Hans Maessen, he said: They are not considered by many in the customs field to be representative. There is a lot of scepticism about the evidence they are providing and the solutions they are suggesting. On that basis, I can understand why people are being cautious”.

It would be very interesting to know more about Mr. Henigs own practical background and experience from the Customs and Border area and who he is referring to as “many in the Customs field”.

My CV is available in the public domain and people can read about the 35 years of experience I have from designing, developing, implementing and managing border solutions, on executive levels – global, regional and national.

As former Director of World Customs Organization responsible for the development and implementation of international standards I do have relevant experience to use in this case. I was also heaivily involved in the development of often quoted Sweden-Norway border – but I have since then been involved in and have many hundreds of the most challenging borders in the world.

I find it interesting that Mr. Henig refer to “many in the Customs field”. Especially since I over decades have visited hundreds of Customs and border conferences and I have never met or seen Mr. Henig participate in any of the events. This is where Customs people usually meet.

The colleagues I have in the professional community like e.g. institutions, think-tanks and research foras (where I participate) have not raised the same doubts as Mr. Henig. In fact, I have always felt highly respected in my community.

We, the experts, don’t always share the same views and this is fine since the “roof is high” in our professional community. There are some great debates in the professional Customs arena. This time though my colleagues have just underlined and supported the views expressed in my work.

I would personally not give a view about Mr. Henig status in his professional field (if asked) – since I don’t know him.

I am however always prepared to listen and to learn more – so if you Mr. Henig – read this, please make contact so we can talk.

Maybe we will get a chance to speak directly in the future. I am looking forward to it.