Last night, the SKWAWKBOX exclusively broke the news that Theresa May had reached a deal with Ireland and the EU on the Irish border that was acceptable to the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party) – by means of capitulation to the wishes of both the EU/Ireland (RoI) and the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party).
May was faced with a stark choice between an ‘Irish sea border’ solution that would have lost her the support of the DUP and cost the Tories their tenuous ‘confidence and supply’ majority – and surrendering to the EU, RoI and the DUP in a ‘whole UK stays in’ option that would trigger civil war with her hard-Brexit faction.
She chose surrender.
BBC News initially hailed the official announcement of the ‘agreement’ this morning as a ‘breakthrough’ – and continues to use that in its headlines and banners – but even the BBC couldn’t prevent reality starting to seep out in the comments of its correspondents and guests.
First up was DUP MP Sammy Wilson who confirmed that the deal for a ‘soft border’, which received ‘qualified’ approval from the DUP, will mean putting the whole UK in a regulatory alignment with the EU – and that the DUP’s stubbornness had forced a complete climbdown by Theresa May:
The ‘regulatory alignment’ will be virtually indistinguishable from the UK remaining in the single market and customs union – which is an entirely different deal from what Theresa May thought she had agreed with the EU and RoI on Monday.
The headlines should be ‘embarrassing climbdown!‘ rather than ‘breakthrough’. But the next segment on the subject made the nature of the deal even clearer.
First BBC politics correspondent Vicki Young made clear that the ‘deal’ has angered hard-Brexit Tories, then Anita McVey and Liverpool University’s politics Professor John Tonge made the conclusion explicit: the deal means the UK will effectively remain in the EU customs union and single market.
The recognition of May’s surrender was immediate among Brexit commentators. Highly-regarded lawyer David Allen Green was blunt:
Former Ambassador pointed out that the commitments are by the UK and not be the EU:
While the Guardian’s Brussels correspondent couldn’t help commenting on an elegant put-down by EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier:
Meanwhile, hardline leavers were already up in arms, crying ‘Betrayal!’ all over social media.
All this amounts to three things that are decidedly not forming part of the Establishment coverage of May’s capitulation:
- the weak Theresa May has performed another complete U-turn in the space of four days, from a deal with Ireland and the EU that meant harmonising Northern Ireland with the RoI while the rest of the UK stood separate – to instead looping the regulatory border over the whole of the UK
- this change will outrage the hard-Brexit ideologues in the Tory party. The MPs that a Tory insider termed ‘head-bangers’ will already be sharpening their knives for the infighting to come in the ‘civil war‘ that CCHQ (Tory headquarters) started preparing for as soon as the DUP put their foot down on Monday
- May has wasted over eight months of the short Brexit negotiation period – to come to the position that the Labour Party could have told her to take all along
The news will be welcomed by opponents of a ‘hard Brexit’ – and makes Corbyn’s intelligent, perceptive handling of the situation throughout this year look absolutely vindicated, while making the Tories look like the incompetent, weak space-wasters clinging desperately to office that they are.
Of course, that won’t suit Labour’s vestigial right-wingers, so watch out for ‘moderates’ praising Theresa May for finally waving a white flag to get some movement on the EU – instead of praising Corbyn’s intelligent and effective politics that gave her enough rope to hoist herself with while exposing her weakness.
Which, to those who know what it means, will be the biggest possible vindication and endorsement.
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