With the ink barely dry on the draft withdrawal agreement between the United Kingdom and the European Union, Sky News in London is reporting that the UK is already searching for ways to sabotage the backstop elements of the proposed deal with Brussels and Dublin.
Theresa May is examining a last-minute plan to scrap the Irish backstop in a bid to win over mutinous Conservative Brexiteers and bring the DUP back onside.
The prime minister told her cabinet that she was exploring “technological” solutions to maintain a soft border in Ireland in place of her backstop plan as she looked to appease her Brexiteers ahead of a critical vote in the Commons on her deal next month.
The revival of “alternative arrangements” to keep the border open came after senior Brexiteers met with the prime minister in Number 10 on Monday to present their own plan.
Of course this wouldn’t be the first time that the wayward Conservative Party government in Britain, allied to its parliamentary supporters in the hard-right Democratic Unionist Party, has retreated from a Brexit deal with its former partners in Europe. So there is little surprise in the rumours being reported in the British news media. The Tory leader is clearly attempting to have her cake and eat it, by making sensible and constructive promises to the EU in public that she then undermines in private by countenancing the fantasy opinions of her europhobic cabinet ministers and party colleagues. Which partially explains this recent example of Theresa May throwing red meat to the rabid dogs of the Brexit movement, as highlighted by The Washington Post:
Prime Minister Theresa May basically called the 3 million Europeans living in Britain a bunch of queue jumpers. This has upset some people, because it is quite an insult here.
Understand that in Britain, jumping the queue is simply not done. Not by the British people, or their long-term guests.
East London, West London, posh or poor, public school or private, city or country — if there is a queue, you bloody well take your place.
You know who cuts in line? In the British mind? Barbarians. Vikings. Foreigners.
While the comments by the UK premier may not have matched the rhetorical excesses of Donald Trump, they certainly matched his dog-whistle intent, giving credibility to the xenophobic beliefs of some British voters that foreign interlopers – Europeans – have an unfair advantage in the country due to the imposition of partisan rules and regulations by the EU.
Meanwhile, if the governments of the Continent were hoping that the political opposition in the United Kingdom would place good relations with the European Union, and peace in Ireland, above their own immediate electoral aspirations or goals, they will be sadly disappointed. From Sky News:
Jeremy Corbyn and Nicola Sturgeon have teamed up in a bid to block the government’s draft Brexit deal – and stop a “no deal” divorce.
The Labour leader and Scottish First Minister joined a delegation including shadow chancellor John McDonnell and shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer to discuss blocking a “blind” separation from the EU.
They met the leader of the Liberal Democrats, Sir Vince Cable, and other senior representatives from the Greens and Plaid Cymru.
It comes as a series of key Labour MPs – who represent Leave-backing constituencies that the government was relying on to help pass a Brexit deal – revealed they would be voting against it.
And their joint alternative option to the draft agreement? There is none.