Negotiations between the UK and European Union remain in tatters after the DUP blocked a possible agreement over the question of an Irish border.
Brexit Secretary David Davis continues to claim that the UK and EU are close to agreement, but Labour’s Brexit spokesman Sir Keir Starmer said the “DUP’s tail was wagging the Tory dog” and the collapse of the deal was when May’s “fantasy met brutal reality”.
On Monday, it was widely rumoured that negotiators had managed to find a compromise where Northern Ireland would not diverge in regulations from the Republic of Ireland, which would negate the need for a hard border on the island. However, the DUP, which has a confidence and supply deal with the Conservatives, said that they could not agree to a deal that could in any way differentiate them form mainland Britain, and forced Theresa May to pull out.
The problem of a possible border in Ireland was well publicised during the Brexit debate, but Vote Leave and Leave.EU dismissed the concerns as “scaremongering”. The pound plunged in response to the collapse of the deal.
There is little possibility of a fresh agreement over the border because Theresa May has taken two conflicting stances, in that she has said she does not want a hard border in Ireland but also that the UK will leave the customs union and single market. Either the prime minister must accept a softer Brexit that will alienate her Brexiteer backbenchers, or she will have to accept a hard border in Ireland that could be at odds with the Good Friday Agreement.
Meanwhile, Foreign Office employees have warned Irish and EU negotiators to ignore the comments of Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who has managed to earn a reputation for making up “facts” and policies without any research.