Theresa May was given the weekend to solve some major Brexit issues, or risk a Cabinet walkout. The weekend has been and gone and we don’t seem to have moved.
Mrs. May today gave a speech to the Commons, outlining how she believes that a deal is still achievable. She gave the House an update before Wednesday’s summit with the European Union, explaining:
“We are entering the final stages of these negotiations. This is the time for cool, calm heads to prevail, and it’s the time for a clear-eyed focus on the few remaining but critical issues that are still to be agreed.”
She was met with much heckling and laughter, of course – before explaining how on Sunday, the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, Dominic Raab, went for further talks with Michel Barnier.
She said there has been a great deal of inaccurate speculation about the meeting, and that in fact, great progress on both the withdrawal agreement and the political declaration of our future relationship with the EU, has been made.
But have we? Really? It feels like we’re still where we were a few months ago – still stuck on the Ireland border issue.
We have been bouncing back and forth over the backstop issue. Mrs. May wants a backstop solution that keeps the entire UK in the Customs Union and Single Market. Brexiteers, obviously, don’t want that. Nor will we accept it.
If the backstop includes Northern Ireland only, then it creates a border on the Irish Sea between GB and NI. That divides the United Kingdom, and still the question remains…how long will the backstop be in place?
Brexiteers want to know when the end of the backstop will be, and how much time we will offer to allow negotiations to continue. The European Union, however, would prefer the backstop have no such deadline, so they can effectively keep Northern Ireland in the European Union. I hope this is making sense to you.
You see, there has to be a border in Ireland somewhere. If one half of Ireland is staying in the European Union, and the other half isn’t, then the border needs to go somewhere. If it goes between Northern Ireland and the Republic, then that contravenes the Good Friday Agreement. If it goes down the Irish Sea, then it divides Northern Ireland and Great Britain…and the DUP won’t let that happen.
That’s perhaps why Mrs. May is considering ditching the DUP. The religious, conservative, Irish defenders of Brexit were originally the kingmakers after the 2017 election, giving the Tories the last few votes they needed in a Confidence and Supply deal. Now, they might be kicked to the curb.
The Express reports that the Prime Minister is ready to dump the DUP and gamble on her plan for Brexit being voted through Parliament without their support. Somehow, I guess, she thinks she might be able to get enough of Labour on board to vote for her Brexit “compromise.”
It’s a bold move, and one that could potentially let her have her own way on Brexit.