Negotiations with the EU have once again hit a dead-end as the EU labelled Theresa Mays proposals a ‘fantasy’ and that her latest customs plan would halt progress. The UK is still unable to overcome the problem of the Irish Border.
A senior EU official said the UK still lacked negotiating positions on a wide variety of issues and that it was “chasing the fantasy of denying the consequences of Brexit in a given policy area”.
If talks continue like this, a Brussels official close to Brexit negotiations warns that there would be no progress by the June meeting of the European Council.
News that Theresa May wants to align the whole UK with the customs union and single market on a time-limited basis until 2023 as a backstop to solve the Irish border issue was particularly poorly received in Brussels.
People familiar with the talks confirmed that this policy had already been raised by UK negotiators and that European Commission’s negotiators have already rejected the plan before its public announcement.
It would also mean the UK would take 7 years to exit and fully implement its Brexit plan.
“The regulatory alignment option is not available on the all-UK basis because it would amount to selective participation on the single market,” the senior EU official said, adding that the backstop “cannot be time-limited”.
“A backstop that would be strictly time-limited would defeat the purpose of a backstop,” they said, before making clear that the Prime Minister’s plan for a UK-wide backstop would have to be withdrawn if progress is to be made at the June European summit.
Analysis from Iwan Doherty- Editor in Chief
The Conservatives continue to be unable to solve the Irish Border problem, the EU know they have the UK caught between ‘securing its borders’ and satisfying the Good Friday Agreement. Theresa May’s commitment to end freedom of movement is causing her headaches, that not even watering down Labour’s plan can solve.
With the Customs Partnership now rejected May may have to turn to the plan outlined by Keir Starmer in creating a customs union with the EU or stay in either the customs union or the single market. However stronger Brexiteers might now opt to move to a Canadian style trade agreement with the EU, but fitting the Good Friday Agreement into Brexit is proving very challenging. Theresa May must be thankful that Stormont remains empty and therefore unable to pick the gaping holes in her plans.
The Brexiteers in her cabinet, however, are less than useless. The architects of Brexit have yet to bring 1 idea to the table and that former Remains are now doing all the work is a testament to how ridiculous Brexit has become.
To end this dispute, put the ball in the EU’s court. Ask what they want to do to solve the Irish Border problem. If Westminster hasn’t got any ideas maybe Brussels does. The EU doesn’t want a hard border in Ireland, and tackling the problem from that direction will come to better results.
Brexit is looking softer by the day, and with EEA membership seemingly discarded, the future of our economy seems to be slipping into an abyss whilst reclaiming nothing from the EU.