Getting Brexit deal past cabinet, Commons and country will come down to customs

BY Iain Martin | tweet iainmartin1   /  13 November 2018

Who knew the boring old question of customs could be so troublesome? We did, shout the pro-Remain trade nerds who have been warning for two years that Britain’s departure from the EU could fail or become excessively complex because of the difficulty of devising arrangements that keep the border open between Northern Ireland and Ireland when the UK (which Northern Ireland is in) leaves the customs territory of the European Union.

Now, when it comes down to it, the Prime Minister’s deal rests ultimately on this hitherto arcane area of dispute. After much arguing, and talk of separate arrangements for Northern Ireland, the EU and the UK government seem to have arrived at a guarantee (to be revealed tomorrow) that the UK will, if no whizz bang trade deal is forthcoming by December 2020, stay in a┬ácustoms union with the EU. May and her team have forced the EU to concede on a major point. The backstop will not be purely for Northern Ireland, dividing up the UK. It’ll be – if she gets it through – for the entire UK. Well done. But…


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