• Hence the new formulation that Mrs May has accepted, which is to promise that even if there is no agreed trade deal, the UK as a whole will “maintain full alignment” with all relevant rules of the single market.

    This formula, along with the rest of the joint report, was hailed in both Brussels and Dublin. The DUP said it still had reservations. Yet it had no real alternative but to accept the new terms: continued intransigence could have led either to a Brexit with no deal at all or the collapse of Mrs May’s government and the arrival in power of Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn. For the DUP, either would have been a catastrophe.

    Yet the real worry for Mrs May may now be within her own party. Brexiteers have accepted all the concessions she has made thus far because they are set on the ultimate goal of leaving the EU in March 2019. But as they consider the terms of the joint report, they may jib at the implicit promise that Britain will maintain close regulatory alignment with many of the single market’s rules even after leaving the club. That seems inconsistent with their dream of tearing up all Brussels regulations and opening the way to free-trade deals with lots of third countries. In future talks this contradiction could come to haunt Mrs May…

    some may surely start to wonder what Brexit is really for.

    tags: Brexit UK EU Ireland Economist explainer TheresaMay

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  • Rejoice! The prime minister has solved the thorny problem of the Northern Ireland border, concluded the divorce negotiations and now we can move on to the sunny uplands of negotiating future trading relations with the EU. Or has she? In fact, the problem of the border is not resolved at all but simply left hanging. The language on “full alignment” means different things to different people. A series of contradictory undertakings have been given and a new separate strand of negotiation on Ireland opened in the next stage. The problem of Northern Ireland has metastasised into a problem for the whole of the UK. It is not just a question of are we going to have a hard border in Dundalk, but are we going to have a hard border at Dover. And the cleavage between the two wings of the government has been thrown into stark relief.

    tags: Brexit UK Ireland EU border 2017

  • tags: Brexit analysis UK EU 2017 Ireland

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