Theresa May must have been desperate to have signed the joint Report in December. She did so, knowing that it would do little but buy time before the next elemental clash, and focusing on contradictory positions over the border. The price of a deal would then increase, just like a loan from a money shark. He didn’t force her to take out a loan, now did he? But those are the terms, dear. And so today’s draft withdrawal Agreement which the EU have just published came as no surprise.
You’ll recall that Arlene Foster finally let May go ahead to sign the Report at the second attempt after requiring a cardinal tenet of unionism to be included, that no economic border would come between NI and GB. Foster in her statement added the rider that “more work is needed.” But now she may be ruing the day she was so accommodating, not a position she often holds. For “more work” in DUP terms was never done. Today Foster could only declare the draft “constitutionally unacceptable and economic catastrophic.”
It turns out those assurances were worth even less than the paper they were written on. As we reported yesterday they’re absent from the final text. This is because they were written off as a mere internal affair between the UK government and the DUP and not a matter for a lofty EU legal document.
.The status recommended for Northern Ireland is bound to raise Unionist and Tory hackles by removing one of the usual planks of sovereignty, the main trading and border policies, without seeking permission from the people who live there . The Brexit cry “Taking back control” rings very hollow here. But in the end they can’t be serious. This draft is Operation Hope Not.
In cold print the EU paper really does remove traditional aspects of sovereignty which in EU parlance was pooled.
Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London