Brexit Considers the bear minimum

24 Sep 2019

The European Union's Brexit negotiator said on Monday it was difficult to see a way to break the Brexit impasse as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's demand to drop an insurance policy for the Irish border was unacceptable. Of course the impasse is caused by the EU putting forward a solution to their border problem which is unacceptable. This has to be changed, and it isn't the EU's fault that the May government signed off on this, but it isn't acceptable to the UK, so an alternative must be found. This is true deal or no deal.

More than three years after the United Kingdom voted by 52%-48% in a referendum to leave the EU, Brexit's future remains uncertain, with options ranging from a potentially turbulent no-deal exit to abandoning the entire endeavour. The negotiations were botched, for sure, but they can be fixed … maybe.

Hopes of a deal to ease the transition were stoked when Johnson said the shape of an accord was emerging and European Commission President Juncker said an agreement was possible.

But EU negotiator Michel Barnier, author of the “backstop” and who should always have known better but was probably confused by the incompetence on the British negotiation position, cast doubt on the likelihood of a deal and reaffirmed that the bloc could not agree to London's demand to remove the Irish “backstop”, a policy to prevent a return of border controls on the island of Ireland, without a serious alternative. Apparently it is for the UK to suggest the serious alternative, the EU can't seem to, but this does mean that the EU will need to agree the UK's alternative or use the Irish state as a political football and start setting up border posts.

There has to be a border, but mustn't be a “hard border”, and Northern Ireland has to be treated as part of the UK and Southern Ireland as part of the EU. So get on with it, guys, and if your title happens to be “negotiator”, start negotiating; if the EU has maneuvered itself into accepting a British alternative to the back-stop as an alternative to a hard border, then give them something to agree to. How difficult can it be?