Well here we are again. I wrote in early December last year of a British Brexit. Various spins and roundabouts ensued as this continued issue of the UK border backstop continued, yet here we are with the same solution being proposed again; what a waste of 10 months!
The ideas as I understand it to solve this issue of the Northern Ireland border, to not break the Good Friday international treaty, now known as the ‘backstop’ is for the UK to remain in the Single Market and Custom union for an undefined transition period, in place of a backstop. Effectively a Soft Brexit and creation of time to develop a harder Brexit or a complicated trade deal.
It would likely be a lot longer than 2-3 years, international treaties tend to take a long time and this one would be veru complicated as it woudl need to ensure that no-one gained an advantage through different regulatory mechanisms. With so much political division within the UK over Brexit and its ineffectual democratic system, it would likely take much longer if ever and <whisper very quietly> probably require a succession of referenda.
Such a solution however will probably satisfy the EU and it’s other national governments and will likely pass through the UK parliament as much of the Labour party will support it, indeed the Labour leader has said he will support an agreement that involves remaining in a Custom Union. So is Brexit solved the same way once again?
Possibly not. While the Brexiteers in the Tory government do not have the numbers to force a no-deal Brexit in Parliament, they can instead topple May’s government by forcing an internal Tory party leadership contest. The Tories are likely to elect a Brexiteer and then there will not be UK -EU withdrawal agreement. But as there are not enough hardcore Brexiteers on the Tory benches, the government would be likely to force a vote of no confidence in itself and subsequently a General Election, which will be ugly. The question would then be would there be time to get a withdraw agreement before the March deadline. Especially as a General election takes 6 weeks + a few weeks for the Leadership election + problems with the election potentially falling during the festive period + some time to form a coalition.
On the other hand, would the Brexiteers risk splitting the Tory party, gifting Corbyn the PM job and the lead in developing the vastly complicated trade agreement with the EU that would allow an open border between the UK and the EU to continue. There is the argument that they would be quite happy for Brexit to fail and Article 50 to be rescinded by a Labour/ SNP/Lib Dem coalition. For the Brexiteers have been happy grumbling about the EU for 40 years and have spent the last three years continuing to grumble rather than put forward a single positive argument for a UK or indeed an England outside of the EU.
It really is all about timing, who will jump first. This is May’s strategy, to get the timing of this right to get this deal through. Then she can stand down and leave someone else deal with the mess a la Cameron.