This was first posted on Facebook on 1st October 2019, with support from my Ko-Fi network.Oh, apparently the “we won’t have a border, we’ll have customs clearing stations EITHER SIDE of the border” has been and gone.
Boris Johnson says this plan was a non-plan.
In the Commons this morning, James Dudderidge, the current Brexit minister, referred to the papers that described the five-miles-either-side proposal as “non-papers” and seemed to promise that the UK government’s latest solution to remove the backstop would be published by the end of the week: I see reported on Twitter that the Tory conference expects to hear the solution tomorrow.
To be clear: the reason the Withdrawal Agreement included initially a NI-only backstop, then extended to a UK-wide backstop, was because in 18 months of negotiation, neither the EU nor the UK team could come up with any other solution to the necessity of a transparent border for the Good Friday Agreement, but to have Northern Ireland effectively remain in the EU.
The idea that Boris Johnson and his crew can come up with a solution in a few weeks is absurd: as absurd as the repeated assertion by Brexiters (Sajid Javid told the Tory conference this morning) that if the UK crashes out in no-deal they don’t have to have a backstop and they don’t have to pay the £39bn.
BUT: If the UK crashes out in no-deal Brexit by Johnson somehow unlawfully circumventing the Benn Act, the first two things on the list of pre-conditions for negotiations for a trade deal to begin, would be – a backstop for Northern Ireland, and the £39bn settlement owed by the UK.
Oh, and a couple of hours ago there was an incident in one of the Tory Party conference venues, the International Lounge. Police and paramedics called. Apparently no one was seriously hurt. Just “one of those conference incidents” a Tory press officer told journalists. Ahem. Perhaps it was a non-dispute involving non-punching.