Johnson’s weak proposals show only the people can ‘get Brexit done’

The Johnson agreement may yet evolve into the one that satisfies all sides and allows Brexit to take place in a matter of days... but logic and experience suggest otherwise

The prime minister has shown he has little understanding of the history and attitudes of the Irish towards partition
The prime minister has shown he has little understanding of the history and attitudes of the Irish towards partition

Whether or not Boris Johnson deliberately designed his Brexit proposal with a view to being rejected by the EU, it has certainly been greeted with scepticism, albeit polite.

The most incisive comment came from Michel Barnier, the EU’s lead negotiator, who called it a “trap” for the EU. Whereas the withdrawal agreement concluded with Theresa May floating the prospect of the UK being kept in the EU customs union against its will under the “Irish backstop”, the Johnson plan proposes that Northern Ireland remains in the EU single market, with the Northern Ireland executive and assembly having the opportunity to opt out either by the end of the transition period (2020), or at four-year intervals thereafter.

Thus, the EU is being invited to take part in a new relationship with the UK that can be unilaterally altered by the UK, and with dramatic effect. Thus, if Northern Ireland decided to leave the “zone of regulatory compliance” stretching across the island of Ireland, and begin, with the rest of Britain, to diverge from EU and Irish products and other standards, then the likelihood of checks at the border itself is hugely increased. This is because of the geographic sensitivity of movements of livestock and agrifood, which means that they cannot be dealt with in customs centres many miles from the border.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in