This Week’s Mad Balloon


Complete thread of Kevin Hjortshøj O'Rourke’s tweet:

They want a bilateral treaty dealing with the border so that the backstop can be removed from the WA…

It’s already been rejected so it isn’t newsworthy in the sense that we may be headed there. But that something so impossible has been considered by HMG at this late stage tells us something about HMG.

One interpretation is that they still don’t understand the issues. The only way to avoid a border is to have a backstop arrangement either for NI or for the U.K. as a whole. And since that involved NI/UK being part of the EU CU and in bits of its SM this is not in Ireland’s gift.

Pretty obviously the EU has an interest in who is a member of its CU and bits of its SM, and the conditions attaching to this, and so pretty obviously this is a deal that the EU would have to be party to. And pretty obviously the deal would be identical to the backstop.

So maybe this story tells us that HMG is not the quickest of learners. Or maybe it tells us something else. How would this idea be sold to MPs you wonder? I can think of 2 ways.
1. This will be us negotiating with the Irish and we are more powerful than them so we can shaft them
2. This will be a treaty with the Irish so the consequences of reneging on it will be less — for example, it won’t involve the U.K. immediately crashing out of the WA as a whole with all of the turbulence that this would imply.

Whether you think that this week’s mad balloon reflects ignorance of the issues, or a desire to restore the traditional balance of power vis à vis Ireland (and perhaps you don’t have to choose) it is a classic example of why, from the Irish & EU perspective, a backstop is needed.

Because let’s face it, you can’t trust this lot.