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Forget Germany – the real crisis as far as Brexit talks go is closer to home

Without a coherent position on the Irish border, money alone will only get the UK so far.

What are the repercussions of the political crisis in Germany on Britain's objectives in the Brexit talks? That's the question raised by Iain Duncan Smith and Jacob Rees-Mogg in the Times, who want the government to use the political instability in Germany to get a better deal for the UK.  

It's got a short answer, this one: there aren't any. The question of Brexit unites effectively all of the German political class, and the electorate, to the extent that the average German in the street cares about Brexit. Whatever government emerges from the breakdown in coalition negotiations, its Brexit objectives will remain unchanged.

The European leader with something to gain is French president Emmanuel Macron. If the liberal FDP in Germany pay an electoral price for blowing up the talks, then that removes a major impediment to Macron's hopes of achieving eurozone reform. The European country Brexiteers should be worried about is Ireland, which can, just like Germany, veto the final treaty and use its influence to block progress to the next stage of talks.

Theresa May has secured a cabinet agreement that the UK will increase the amount of its outstanding liabilities to the EU, but without a coherent position on the Irish border, money alone will only get the UK so far.

That speaks to the PM's biggest success and her biggest failure in the Brexit talks. If May can get to the end of the process, she has a set of excellent cards: that parliament as a whole favours a soft exit from the EU, that a good third of the parliamentary Labour Party will fear a Brexit backlash if they vote against any deal, and that another third of the PLP will want to avert a catastrophic unplanned exit.

So if she can survive to the final stage she might be able to pull off a less disruptive exit than we expect. And May is doing an unnoticed good job in gradually moving the centre of Conservative gravity to a reality-based place on Brexit: on money, and on the need for a transition period.

But what she has failed to do is court public opinion in the EU27. There is no resolution to the Irish question that doesn't, at this stage, either lead to a hard border or the fall of May. The PM's rhetoric and her snubbing of the Irish parliament means that it is politically toxic for taoiseach Leo Varadkar to give her the benefit of the doubt that she could, at the 11th hour, make a last-minute concession to prevent a hard border.

And that means that for all May has taken the Conservative party to a better place as far as money goes, it might all be for nothing when her failures on Ireland mean that the latest concession achieves nothing at all with the EU27 in December.

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman and the PSA's Journalist of the Year. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.

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Jeremy Corbyn may be a Eurosceptic – but he also wants to defeat the government

The Labour leader's big Brexit speech is likely to spell out a small, but significant change in the party's position.

All eyes are on Labour and its leader's big Brexit speech on Monday.

It's easier at this point to list the Shadow Cabinet ministers who haven't publicly called for the United Kingdom to remain in some form of customs union with the European Union after Brexit - Nia Griffith, the shadow defence secretary, became the latest minister to do so yesterday when she addressed the trade union Prospect. John McDonnell has described the party's position as "evolving". Is Jeremy Corbyn set to follow suit?

Well, sort of. One of the most commonplace mistakes people make at Westminster is to say that Labour's strategy and objectives for Brexit are unclear, but this isn't quite true. The leadership's strategy is to win the next election and its objective is as big a breach from the European Union as it can pull off while doing so.

He might have a new suit and be a dab hand at shareable videos, but underneath it all, Jeremy Corbyn is still the same man who voted against the constitutional underpinnings of the European Union in 2007, who told the New Statesman he hadn't "closed his mind" to backing Brexit. But while Corbyn is a Eurosceptic by instinct, he doesn't have religion on the issue. Foreign policy is his passion project and like most Labour MPs, he doesn't really regard the EU as "proper abroad". He knows, too, that his best opportunities to damage, defeat and ultimately replace the Conservative government will come over Brexit.

There is a concern in the leader's office that Monday's speech is already been overhyped. What I'm reliably informed will happen is a small, but significant change in the party's position that allows the Opposition to explain why it is voting against the government as far as the customs union goes. The real reason, of course, is that Team Corbyn think this is an area where they can defeat the government.

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman and the PSA's Journalist of the Year. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.