EU-UK: A deal synonymous to ‘remain’, England pays the Irish price

British Prime Minister, Theresa May at the EU Council in Salzburg, Austria. During her visit she also attended dinner at Felsenreitschule, hosted by the Austrian Chancellor, Sebastian Kurz. (10 Downing St. photo, some rights reserved).

On 24 August 2017 the European Sting’s leading article ventured that, “Brexit may finally not really happen; The Brits have second thoughts”. This prediction was based on the basics of a proposal which Theresa May had aired on Thursday 17 August of last year. On this information, the European Sting then reported that between Britain and the EU there will be, “a new customs partnership which would exclude altogether the existence of a UK-EU customs border”.

The exclusion of a border between the UK and the EU can only be realized if Britain remains as a part the European Union’s Customs Union. It’s exactly what is happening now. Let’s see to details.

A Customs partnership

Last Friday, 12 October, and after more than two years of destructive infighting in the Conservative Party, May again told her government and Tory party colleagues that post Brexit Britain won’t leave the EU Customs Union, but this will be “time limited”. How time ‘limited’ it will be, nobody can tell.

In reality, Britain is to practically remain in the EU, and apply the rulings of the European Court for the years to come; for an eternity? Most probably! Yet, there is cross checked information that Boris Johnson, the leader of the Tory Brexiteers faction, won’t be able to block this 10 Downing Street’s plan, a catastrophic prospect for the likes of him. He, a sworn Brexiteer, is to swallow a ‘Brexit’ tantamount to ‘Bremain’, because Ireland won’t tolerate a bolder on her soil.

Softened Brussels

Given that, mainland European leaders and more precisely the French President, Emmanuel Macron and the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel will soften their rigid stance towards May’s proposal in this week’s EU Summit. Their objections focus on the fact that Britain cannot just decide to remain in the Customs Union and ignore every other European Union rule and institution. The European citizens’ right of free movement, the obligations toward EU’s budget and the jurisdiction of the European Court cannot be forsaken.

All the other Europeans insist that Britain cannot cherry-pick just the free trade of goods as a member of the Customs Union and forget the other EU determinants. Those issues will be clarified during the next few weeks, because the November EU Summit has to finalize the EU-UK divorce deal. There is no more time for Tory infighting. Britain will have to apply the EU rules.

Destabilizing Brexiteers

After being destabilized and threatened to be toppled for many months by extreme Brexiteers, the British Prime Minister seems to have regained control of the party. That is, the cool headed large majority of Tories, at least – those who don’t get sick with everything coming from Brussels. They seem to back her latest effort to put together a Brexit deal and avoid a dead end.

This reality became plain earlier this month at the Conservative Party annual conference in Birmingham. The European Sting monitored the game changing developments in the Tory party and last Monday 8 October came out with this title: ‘Window for a Brexit deal: Brussels to think again May’s proposal’.

May’s Brexit proposal is now crystal clear to all. It’s is a full participation to EU’s Customs Union, nothing less and probably much more than that. According to BBC, last Friday, the Prime Minister told her Tory Brexiteers that she would “never agree” to a permanent Customs Union with the EU. The BBC also reported, “They are thought to fear that Theresa May will agree to such a move, if a trade deal cannot be done in time”. In short, what remains to be clarified is if it will be for an eternity or for the many, many years to come.

Forever?

For sure, this ‘limited’ time period won’t be brief, and during it a lot of things may change. As for the Brussels side, the EU leaders say, there has to be some time suggestion about the ‘no permanent’ participation of the UK in the Customs Union. Practically, this means both mainland Europeans and the Tory Brexiteers have accepted the core of May’s proposal.

This week’s EU Summit will, most likely, not come up with a decision about the divorce deal. The sure thing, however, is that there will be a deal soon. This week the EU leaders will clearly appear less rigid toward Britain and will accept “there is very good progress in the Brexit negotiations”. The final agreement will be left for November’s Special Summit, after some weeks of frantic negotiations.

More than a Customs Union

From the beginning of the Brexit negotiations, the key issue was to avoid a hard border on the soil of Ireland. After Brexit, the Eire, a member of the EU, and Northern Ireland, a part of UK, must continue communicating without checks or controls. This can only happen if the whole of the UK remains in the Customs Union without reserves and asterisks.

There is no other way to fulfill the necessity of no borders being enacted on Ireland. Both the Tories and Brussels have definitely accepted the circle cannot be squared. Everybody is convinced about that by now. It was high time. Boris Johnson’s hard Tory Brexiteer conservatives had great difficulties swallowing the reality of the Irish problem.

In a strange way, the Irish people take a delayed revenge. They have brutally suffered under British rule, from an aggressive, egotistic and in many ways racist part of the English society.

 

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