The UK’s Brexit options are limited

Flip Chart Fairy Tales

I had thought for some time that, in the Brexit negotiations, the question of the border in Ireland would be quietly fudged and kicked into the next phase of the process. In the event, it was noisily fudged and kicked into the next phase of the negotiations. For, despite all the drama, nothing much has changed. Or, at least, the UK government is talking as though nothing has changed.

The crucial paragraphs in the Phase 1 agreement published on 8 December are these:

Paragraph 49:

The United Kingdom remains committed to protecting North-South cooperation and to its guarantee of avoiding a hard border. Any future arrangements must be compatible with these overarching requirements. The United Kingdom’s intention is to achieve these objectives through the overall EU-UK relationship. Should this not be possible, the United Kingdom will propose specific solutions to address the unique circumstances of the island of Ireland. In…

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