Supposedly, Great Britain and the EU are close to agreement on a deal governing the former’s departure from the latter. Absent a deal, Great Britain will leave the EU on its own terms. That last is, I maintain, the best way out.
There remain, as of Wednesday morning, three sticking points to any sort of deal, according to EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier.
- Customs arrangements for the island of Ireland
- The issue of giving Northern Irish authorities a greater say over regulatory arrangements, and the ability to veto them
- Guarantees of a level playing field—that Britain will not be at an unfair advantage when it comes to business regulation
Customs arrangements for the entire island—even though one part of the island is a sovereign nation and EU member and the other part is a member country of the United Kingdom. There should be nothing to discuss here. A major reason for the successful Leave vote was for Great Britain to regain control over its own borders—including its national border across the island of Ireland.
Giving Northern Ireland—that part of Great Britain—veto authority over the national government’s “regulatory arrangements”—devolution hasn’t gone that far, nor should it. This sticking point is nothing more than a naked early step in dismantling Great Britain in punishment for its effrontery in voting to leave the Holy Brussels Empire.
Guarantees of a level playing field—Great Britain is justified in seeking such guarantees, but it won’t get them, unless it accedes to what Brussels will define as “fair.”
These…sticking points…illustrate with crystalline clarity the EU’s bad faith in dealing with Great Britain—and they illustrate with equal clarity why a no-deal-Brexit is optimal for Great Britain.
Unfortunately, British PM Boris Johnson, in an agreement just concluded with Barnier, appears to have surrendered to the EU on the matter of Great Britain’s border with the Republic of Ireland:
Northern Ireland will remain part of the UK’s customs territory and will be an entry point into the EU’s single market. No customs checks will be done on the border between [the Republic of] Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Johnson surrendered on the second sticking point, also:
The Northern Irish assembly will have to give consent after Brexit for the region’s continued alignment with the EU regulatory regime every four years.
This cedes control of the British border to the EU, with all that that portends for the nation’s future. British sovereignty now hangs, ironically, on whether Labour MFWIC Jeremy Corbyn can deliver his party’s no vote. Nigel Farage, Brexit Party head and strange bedfellow of Corbyn’s on this, also has come out against the deal, as have the Democratic Unionist Party, which in coalition with the Tories give Johnson a one-vote majority on most things, and the Scottish National Party, which have been NeverLeaveNoWay all along.
It could be, of course, that Johnson has included these poison pills so as to get this last minute agreement rejected by Parliament, and he can get his no-deal exit from the EU. That raises the question, though, of whether Johnson is that Machiavellian.
Johnson wants an up-or-down vote from Parliament Saturday.