The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit blueprint, which was greeted with optimism from within his Conservative party, only to have EU officials dismiss the plan as a non-starter.
With the Brexit deadline set for October 31, time is running out for PM Johnson and his EU counterparts to negotiate a new agreement.
On October 17 and 18, EU leaders will meet, and Johnson must have details for his new plan agreed on well in advance of the EU summit, otherwise Britain enters a period of never seen before political uncertainty.
Boris Johnson Proposes a Northern Ireland solution. This is what the EU originally proposed.
When Theresa May first started negotiating Brexit, Michel Barnier, the EU’s negotiator, suggested a Northern Ireland Backstop.
Theresa May how to reject that idea because she needed 9 DUP MPs to hold her fragile coalition together.
BBC Brexit Basics shows a NI solution is what the EU originally proposed.
A Northern Ireland only backstop? This is what the EU originally proposed.
It would involve Northern Ireland alone remaining in the EU’s single market and customs union, leaving Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) free to strike trade deals.
But the DUP – a Northern Ireland unionist party that propped up Theresa May’s minority Conservative government – objected to this.
Boris Johnson revived the idea, somehow getting DUP on board, but now the EU seems united against its own idea.
I updated @Europarl_EN & EU27 on #UK’s proposals. EU wants a Withdrawal Agreement w/ workable and effective solutions that create legal and practical certainty now. We owe this to peace & stability on the island of Ireland. We must protect consumers & businesses in the EU market.
— Michel Barnier (@MichelBarnier) October 3, 2019
Brexit latest: Michel Barnier has told EU27 ambassadors it is "difficult" to see a deal emerging in the next ten days unless the British “fundamentally amend their position”.
— Jennifer Rankin (@JenniferMerode) October 3, 2019
European Commission Objects
"This solution must meet all the objectives of the #backstop: preventing a hard border, preserving North-South cooperation and the all-island economy, and protecting the EU’s Single Market and Ireland’s place in it."
— EC in UK (@EUlondonrep) October 3, 2019
Placing the Blame
The Guardian Live once again has a good synopsis.
The DUP has accused the Irish government of being “obstructionist and intransigent”. This is from the DUP leader Arlene Foster, commenting on what Simon Coveney, Ireland’s deputy premier and foreign minister, said earlier about the Brexit deal being unacceptable in its current form.
“The Irish government’s preparedness to dump the consent principle for their country’s expediency is foolish in the extreme and sends a very clear message to unionists.”
Donald Tusk, European Council President
Today I had two phone calls on #Brexit, first with Dublin then with London.
My message to Taoiseach @LeoVaradkar: We stand fully behind Ireland.
My message to PM @BorisJohnson: We remain open but still unconvinced.
— Donald Tusk (@eucopresident) October 3, 2019
Tusk is “Open but Unconvinced“.
What’s Going On?
- Bluff by Ireland?
- Bluff by EU?
- Irish Intransigence?
- EU Intransigence?
- All of the Above?
Note the one missing ingredient: UK Intransigence.
Despite appearances, I do not think it is number 4. My guess is 1, 2, and possibly 3.
Odds of Deal
Yesterday, I noted On the Verge of a Brexit Breakthrough.
I see no reason to change that view.
The important point is not the seemingly major disagreements but rather the fact there are are major negotiations underway.
A bluff by Ireland and the EU are highly likely. The alternative is Irish Intransigence, EU Intransigence, or both.
I rule out EU Intransigence on the grounds that the EU will go along if Ireland does.
DUP: “The flippant Dublin reaction to the Prime Minister’s proposals has also exposed the reality that the Irish government would never have consented to the United Kingdom leaving the backstop if it had been implemented.”
— Harry Cole (@MrHarryCole) October 3, 2019
“The flippant Dublin reaction to the Prime Minister’s proposals has also exposed the reality that the Irish government would never have consented to the United Kingdom leaving the backstop if it had been implemented.”
Admitting the Trap
“It’s very clear that the Irish Govt are not interested in having an alternative to the Backstop and it actually exposes the fact that the Backstop was a trap. They had never any intention of allowing us to leave the Backstop and that’s what has been shown today” @DUPleader pic.twitter.com/d4SI20lxR2
— #StandUp4Brexit (@StandUp4Brexit) October 3, 2019
Majority in UK Parliament on Board
Boris Johnson has achieved something everyone thought impossible:
- DUP is on board
- Rebel Labour MPs on board
- Hard Brexiteers on board
- Most Tories on board
Steve Baker, the chair of the European Research Group, which represents Tories pushing for a harder Brexit, and one of the 28 “Spartans” who voted against Theresa May’s deal on every occasion, tells Johnson: “We now glimpse the possibility of a tolerable deal.”
Johnson says he welcomes that coming from Baker, although he says the two have spoken regularly in recent days, and so, he implies, he is not surprised to have Baker’s support.
That’s pretty amazing actually. And note this.
Northern Ireland’s chief constable, Simon Byrne, has said that his officers will not staff any form of border security after Brexit. At a meeting of the Northern Ireland Policing Board earlier, Byrne said he had “made it clear” to the Northern Ireland Office that police would not “staff any form of border security” after the UK leaves the EU.
If Ireland or the EU sink this deal, the most likely consequence is No Deal.
Polls show that Johnson will clobber Jeremy Corbyn in an election. Heck, the Liberal Democrats might even become the opposition leader.
The EU has to understand this.
Excellent Eleven-Tweet Chain on a Landing Zone
Boris Johnson is right to call his proposal a “broad landing zone in which … a deal can begin to take shape.” As such, it is politically astute. If you accept the premise that the UK is leaving the EU single market and customs union, the proposal is also logical. 1/
— Andrew Duff (@AndrewDuffEU) October 2, 2019
Conclusion” The goal is a decent UK-EU working partnership with peace and legitimacy for Ireland, North and South.”
Duff adds in a second Tweet “Johnson is frank about turning away from May’s agreement. In these circs, what works for Ireland that is better than no deal ?”
It is clear that May’s deal was better for the EU than Johnson’s deal. But it can’t pass.
The choice will be between Johnson’s deal (assuming he can work one out) or no deal.
For political purposes, the Tories and the Liberal Democrats want elections. For political reasons the EU does not want the UK having a say in EU policies and procedures.
Excellent Speech by Johnson
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.