At long last we have a clear idea of when a deal will be made with the EU, resolving all issues including the seemingly impossible to negotiate Irish border. Or we did. For two and a half hours.
Much like when a cult leader tells their followers the exact date and time the world will come to an end, Brexit secretary Dominic Raab has informed us ‘the end is in sight’ and that he will be able to come to an agreement with the EU by November 21st. Luckily we didn’t have to cross our fingers as the clock passed midnight, instead a spokesperson for Raab’s department told us this date wasn’t official less than three hours after Raab’s proposed timetable was public.
Sir Keir Starmer, Shadow Brexit Secretary and Raab’s opposite number, called this ‘one of the quickest u-turns in political history’.
The comment was made in a letter penned to the Brexit select committee, who require Dominic Raab to appear in front of MP’s to give evidence regarding the status of the negotiations. The letter was incredibly optimistic and caused a rise in the pound briefly, once Raab backtracked and it was clear the date wasn’t reliable the value withdrew once again.
Theresa May had to distance herself from the comment, an official spokesperson for the Prime Minister saying they were hoping to reach a deal soon but refused to confirm this date as a realistic deadline. Confusion also came from the EU side, as they confirmed ‘nothing new’ had arose from recent talks with the UK and ‘there are no new ideas’ in regards to the Irish border issue.
The Irish border continues to be the major concern as no current proposals reach the mark with any party involved the negotiations. Just over a week ago Theresa May told MP’s in the Commons that 95% of the negotiations were complete but Northern Ireland was still a ‘sticking point’. Despite the Government’s efforts to downplay the significance of Northern Ireland, their lack of progress makes it clear that the issue is worth far more than 5% of the UK’s negotiation efforts. The Prime Minister has her numbers inverted, we still have 95% of the way to go if we are to reach a deal with the EU and avoid violence erupting in Northern Ireland again.
Simon Coveney, Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade has put the responsibility on the UK and Dominic Raab to step up the intensity of the talks if a deal is to be agreed in the coming weeks. With the Brexit secretary visiting towns on the border this week and a British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference being held in Dublin, we should know how close we are to resolving the issue by Friday.
However what we should know and what we do know are always two very different things when it comes to this current Tory Government.