If the assessment of the press in Britain is correct, Theresa May seems to have brought her tottering government to the point of collapse following her alleged “humiliation” at the recent meeting of European Union leaders in Austria. The British prime minister found a cool response to her strident Brexit demands among the representatives of the EU member states and European Commission, with only Hungary’s isolated far-right premier, Viktor Orbán, voicing any great sympathy for London’s position (much to the embarrassment of the United Kingdom delegation). So the UK continues to face the same choices or dilemmas as it did before the summit. If it truly wishes to achieve its supposed “independence” from Europe, then the creation of a low-profile “Irish Sea” customs border between Ireland and Britain, in line with the “backstop” agreement negotiated between Brussels and London last March, would go a long way towards achieving it. Though this would still leave other significant trade and regulatory issues to be resolved. Of course, the above solution to one of Theresa May’s many Brexit troubles assumes that her Conservative Party administration is serious about avoiding any damage to the decades old Irish-British peace process. And genuinely wishes to avoid the more hazardous consequences of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union; such as reimposing a visible – and inevitably militarised – frontier around Britain’s legacy colony in the north-east of the island of Ireland. Which is certainly open to question. If politicians in Dublin are hoping to find some degree of support from the official opposition in London they may be out of luck. From the BBC:
The Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has rejected the latest Brexit backstop proposals from the chief negotiator put forward for Northern Ireland. Michel Barnier has proposed that goods could be checked in Britain before arriving in Northern Ireland. The EU has proposed a backstop that would mean Northern Ireland staying in the customs union, large parts of the single market and the EU VAT system. Mr Barnier has emphasised that it can only apply to Northern Ireland. The Labour leader has also criticised any plan that would lead to a border in the Irish Sea.
With the Labour Party shying away from offering an explicit leave policy of its own, any hope of a rational leadership emerging in the House of Commons to replace the europhobic Tories at a future general election seems to be dying. Instead this is likely to be the new Britain that both parties will oversee as the Business Insider describes the post-Brexit intentions of the UK Secretary of State for International Trade:
Liam Fox is planning to use controversial “Henry VIII” powers to scrap European food standards in order to pave the way for a trade deal with the US after Brexit. Theresa May’s government has insisted that they will not water down EU regulations which currently prohibit the sale of products such as chlorinated chicken and hormone-injected beef in Britain. However, Fox and Crawford Falconer, the UK’s chief trade negotiation adviser, have privately discussed rewriting UK food standards through the upcoming Trade Bill…