Time not certainty
Here is the text of the agreement between the EU and UK following the St Patrick’s weekend negotiations. On Ireland, the UK confirmed it would accept the “backstop” solution of aligning with EU regulations to prevent a hard border with the Republic if no other resolution could be found.
But just a few days ago the Northern Ireland Select Committee report agreed that they couldn’t see an invisible border. In fact its report said “… we have had no visibility of any technical solutions, anywhere in the world, beyond the aspirational, that would remove the need for physical infrastructure at the border.
So while today delivered some movement around issues that could be described as a decisive step (singular) the border issue is still waits to be resolved. Today’s transition agreement buys time but not certainty.
Meanwhile writing in The Independent former Government Chief of Staff Jonathan Powell sums up the contradictions in Therese May’s position saying that the border could well be the issue over which the Brexit talks collapse.
He says: “…”the Irish have been adamant the border be resolved now while they still have leverage, and the rest of the EU has stood with them. Donald Tusk reiterated in Dublin that it would be “Ireland First”. It would be a colossal gamble for the Government to stake everything on being able to break that united front at the last moment. And if they don’t, we risk crashing out of the EU without an agreement at all.”