While his press cheerleaders tell the world that a new and wonderful deal is about to be struck with the EU, what alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson and his pals are not telling anyone is that his deal, like that struck by Theresa May earlier, will involve compromise. And a significant part of that compromise involves customs arrangements on the island of Ireland. Including Northern Ireland.
An absolute Muppet. And Elmo from Sesame Street
The idea that the provisions of the Good Friday Accords would be respected has one corollary: no hard border in Ireland. But with the UK outside the EU, and the Republic of Ireland inside, that could not stand - unless Northern Ireland were to be in a separate customs territory to the rest of the UK. That, put simply, is what Bozo The Clown and his pals are prepared to do. And his allies in Belfast don’t like it one bit.
Boris Johnson agreed to WHAT?!?
Those allies are the DUP, with whom the Tories have an arrangement of sorts, struck by Theresa May, to give The Blue Team a Commons majority. And the DUP are implacably opposed to any divergence of Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK. But they, too, understand the need for compromise. This puts them in the role of the frog being slowly boiled in a pan of blue water. Just how much heat are they prepared to take?
After all, Bozo’s deal is nothing more than Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement rehashed. It is a Monty Python Cat Licence Withdrawal Agreement: a Dog Licence agreement, with Dog crossed out and Cat written in in crayon. Peter Geoghegan of Open Democracy correctly identified this last week, talking of “The sound of the DUP being chucked under the bus”. When would they jump out of the pan?
Matthew O’Toole mused “Positive sounds from the Wirral meeting, but … If he has now moved, he will have to sell it and make it stick”. And Antonello Guerrera then brought the inevitable news. “Nigel Dodds rejects ‘double customs’ [Brexit] solution: ‘It cannot work’ … The DUP deputy leader tells me he considers mooted proposals unrealistic: ‘Northern Ireland must stay in a FULL UK Customs Union. PM Johnson knows that…’”.
Then came a reminder that this idea has already been rejected. “Theresa May did not suggest NI remained in a customs partnership with EU. When EU suggested such a thing she said no UK PM would ever stand for it!” … “Boris Johnson resigned from Theresa May's Cabinet for what he's proposing now”. Bozo has previously rejected his own idea!
Nick Reeves spelt it out. “NI would also have to be a de facto part of the Single Market, and the Republicans would have to have a veto to prevent the DUP dismantling the arrangement at the earliest possible opportunity. Over time the NI and British economic areas would increasingly diverge”. That was quite enough boiling for the DUP frog.
Bozo talks of Surrender Acts, but what he is about to do is surrender to the EU, while throwing the DUP under that bus of his. And the so-called deal he will bring back will be inferior to the one Theresa May did. That means, as Jonathan Portes has put it, “UK out of customs union, plus at most a minimal ‘Canada-minus’ FTA, means GDP hit of up to 7%, and fiscal cost of up to £50 billion”. And the Irish question left unresolved.
Except that the DUP frog has leapt out of the Tory pan. You really couldn’t make it up.
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