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Friday, November 10, 2017

UK Government sinks deeper into Brexit quagmire

If the UK Government thought they were making progress with the Brexit talks then they would have been swiftly disabused by the latest intervention from the Irish Government.

As the Telegraph reports, Ireland is now pushing hard for concrete reassurance on the Irish border question ahead of the crucial EU leaders’ summit in December, despite UK officials thinking that this matter had been parked for the time being.

A 'leaked talking points paper entitled ‘Dialogue on Ireland/Northern Ireland’ shows Ireland is now pushing hard for concrete reassurance on the Irish border question ahead of the crucial EU leaders’ summit in December.

The one-page paper states that in order to preserve the Good Friday Agreement peace deal, the Brexit divorce deal must respect “the integrity of the internal market and the customs union”, of which Ireland will remain a member.

It adds that it is “essential” that the UK commits to avoiding a hard border by remaining part of the EU Customs Union and continues to abide by the “rules of the internal market and customs union”.

It concludes that Britain must ensure “no emergence of regulatory divergence” from the rules of the EU single market and the Customs Union which are “necessary for North South co-operation, the all-island economy and the protection of the Good Friday Agreement.”

The hardline Irish position, which was discussed at EU’s Brexit working group ahead of yesterday’s talks, was described by a senior EU source as reflecting the “state of play” on the Irish question and reflected the “guiding principles” of the EU’s approach to the problem.

The Telegraph understands that Dublin is actually demanding that Britain sign up to some 100 EU rules and regulations, including many covering customs and agriculture, in order to ensure an open trade border between Northern Ireland the Republic of Ireland.

Dublin’s demands present an apparently impossible dilemma to London, requiring either the UK remains in the EU customs union and accepts the rules for the entire UK, or gives Northern Ireland special status in the EU that would undermine the territorial integrity of the UK.'

Those thinking that exiting the EU would be fairly straightforward were quickly disabused of that notion. Now, as the complexities start to kick in, the UK Government is being dragged deeper into a quagmire of its own making, and nobody is willing to throw a rope to pull them out. Is a deal possible at all in the time allowed?
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