Debate Magazine

Brexit Negotiations. Questions, Questions...

Posted on the 06 October 2019 by Markwadsworth @Mark_Wadsworth

1. In the pub on Friday, BenJamin' reminded us that the Benn Act is borderline insane. If somebody has no choice but to agree a deal, any deal, then that more or less negates that person's ability to haggle. The almost inevitable outcome of this would be, by default, for the UK to remain in the EU for another few months. Suitably heartened, MPs can then keep doing the same thing over an over forever. He asked, rhetorically, whether he had understood that properly and we all concurred.
2. My follow-up point was, our PM has made a compromise offer re Northern Ireland, which is some sort of fudge whereby Northern Ireland remains part of the EU for regulatory purposes (food and product safety standards etc) but remains part of the UK for customs purposes. I'm not sure if this is even workable, but you do get weird things like this, like the German enclave in Switzerland and they seem to manage somehow.
But never mind, superficially this is a compromise between:
a) the EU demanding that the whole of the UK remain in the EU for regulatory purposes and/or that the regulatory and customs border would be 'in the Irish Sea'.
b) the extreme (on both sides) idea that there should be a 'hard' border between Ireland and Northern Ireland (the EU appear to be pushing for this more than the UK or Ireland itself).
My question is, from the UK negotiators' point of view, this is a compromise (however insincerely meant) - so what compromise did they demand from the EU in return? Nobody talks about that, maybe they didn't ask for anything. Or is the counter-compromise that the EU no longer insists on 'the backstop' (which is too gruesome to even describe)?

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