On the Irish border problem, the Brexit elite are still peddling fantasies

The EU has rejected the British government’s proposed solution, which aimed to avoid a hard border.


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Stop me if you've heard this one before: the government’s Brexit objectives have hit an Irish border-shaped obstacle after EU negotiators rejected the British government’s two plans for the border after the United Kingdom leaves, Peter Foster reveals in the Telegraph.

The problem hasn't changed: if you want divergence on goods and customs, you have to have checks somewhere on the EU-UK frontier, whether that be on the island of Ireland (something both the British government and the EU27 have ruled out) or in the Irish sea (something that a Conservative government whose parliamentary position is reliant on the DUP can’t agree to either).

Look beneath the headlines and the Irish border solution looks a lot like a big win for the British government’s strategic priorities: the British government gets to diverge on the industries of the future and on services, no longer enjoys freedom of movement but effectively remains in the single market for goods and agriculture, a massive boom for British industry. All that and Theresa May could preserve one of the crowning achievements of the last 30 years of British politics, too.

But as ever, is that the Brexit elite are still peddling fantasies that you can have divergence without barriers.

Stephen Bush is political editor of the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.