Earlier today, European Commission President Donald Tusk tweeted his excitement about an imminent deal between the UK and the EU on the Irish border:
Shortly afterward, the Europe editor of Irish broadcaster RTE tweeted breaking news about the nature of the ‘progress’:
‘No regulatory divergence’ – essentially, that the whole island of Ireland will operate on a single regulatory framework, which is very, very similar to the ‘sea border’ solution for the island that was emphatically rejected by the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP):
The announcement, expected to be formalised imminently, shows a weak Tory government digging itself into a very deep hole in its desperation to get trade talks moving with the EU and save face in front of the UK public.
An expert on Irish affairs, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the SKWAWKBOX:
Working-class Protestants will oust Arlene [Foster] in days if she goes along with this.
Ms Foster feels similarly. In a statement issued while this article was being written, she was unequivocal:
A very deep hole indeed, as journalist Aditya Chakrabortty and Sky’s David Blevins and Beth Rigby recognised:
But it might be devastating in two ways.
There are basically only two ways for the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland to have a single regulatory framework. One is the ‘sea border’ – a system with no regulatory border between Eire and Northern Ireland.
The other is for the whole UK to remain in the customs union and single market, so that there will be no regulatory border between Ireland and the whole of the UK including Northern Ireland.
Option one is a DUP ‘red line’. Option two will trigger a massive revolt among the ideological Tory ‘hard Brexiteers’.
The question is whether Theresa May prefers to throw away her ‘confidence and supply’ deal with the DUP – or to start a civil war with the xenophobe fringe of her own party.
And given the Tories’ incompetence on pretty much everything in recent months, she might very well manage to end up doing both.
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