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“Backstopping” Brexit

A British broadsheet has leaked the contents of a five-page letter penned by Theresa May that threatens her uneasy coalition with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). The major point of contention being that in the event of a no-deal on Brexit — the EU’s so-called “backstop to backstop” plan would take effect.
This would result in a customs union along the Irish Sea whereby Ulster would be essentially cut off from London in terms of trade; quite an irony for a nation that has fought tooth and bloody nail to keep Ireland divided. And while this would avoid unwelcome moves to try and impose a hard border between the North and the Republic — there is no getting away from the fact that the aforementioned is something that the Prime Minister promised would never happen. Thus it is not hard to understand why DUP party leader Arlene Foster has lambasted May for having reneged on her word; despite assurances from the latter that the “backstop” would never come into force. Be that as it may, the implication is that it will nevertheless be included in the final divorce agreement as a contingency plan of sorts.
One hundred days remain before Britain leaves the EU. And as things currently stand, two options are on the table: a no-deal or the current agreement that no side appears particularly enamoured with. This is not just down to bad planning. It is an indication of Downing Street’s immense hubris. From the offset, this was a simple and reckless in-out referendum; with no vision of what would happen going forward. Indeed, London immediately began talk of red lines, such as the question of tariffs and preferential trade, without seeming to understand that — as a single country leaving the soon-to-be 27-member bloc — any deal secured would naturally tilt in Brussels’ favour. That is just the way the cookie crumbles.



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