To strike favourable trade deals around the world Britain needs to be seen as a country that respects the rights of other nations to protect their own economies; seeks to negotiate fairly to meet on common ground; and can be trusted to honour an agreement, legally and morally. Alarm bells must surely ring when those countries watch Britain’s shenanigans with the EU.
The nature of any common trading area is that it is ring fenced and you are either inside, and trade freely, or outside, and can only trade in accordance with your trade agreement. Britain chose to be outside of the EU customs union and therefore is not allowed to trade freely in the way it did when it was inside.
The Good Friday Agreement was only ever a standoff in which the parties agreed to have equal political power while the Northern Ireland economy enjoyed being integrated with both the rest of the UK and the Republic of Ireland. That was feasible because all of the economies were in the EU. Until Boris Johnson came along, the UK government worked on a soft Brexit that enabled Northern Ireland to continue to have a foot in both the UK and the Republic of Ireland. The moment Johnson chose a hard Brexit, a hard border was inevitable, and realistically, it had to be the sea border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK rather than the land border.
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