While ministers and officials in the United Kingdom may have spent the last few days arguing that a leaked government report presenting a series of disastrous “best-case” scenarios for a no-deal withdrawal from the European Union was out-of-date, there is very little sign that Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his hardline colleagues are making any realistic attempt to prevent those scenarios from coming true. On the contrary, the UK authorities, aided by an increasingly xenophobic press, seem intent on wrecking any chance of a fair settlement with the EU by suggesting the most ludicrous and frankly revanchist solutions to the current Brexit impasse. From the tabloid organ of Greater England, The Sun newspaper:
BORIS Johnson wants to agree a temporary new arrangement with Ireland that will guarantee no hard border as his bid to break the Brexit impasse, allies have revealed.
In the PM’s first salvo to renegotiate an exit deal, he called for talks on new “commitments” to replace the controversial Irish backstop that leaves Britain tied to EU rules.
The Sun has learned that Mr Johnson is ready to propose a new bilateral deal between London and Dublin to act as a bridge until stand-off border checks – dubbed ‘alternative arrangements’ – are ready.
Under the new idea, Ireland would win a special dispensation from Brussels to diverge from EU rules temporarily so it can stay aligned with the UK.
In other words we are moving from a negotiating position where Britain is threatening to impose a new economic partition of Ireland to a situation where some in Britain are now lobbying for the regulatory annexation of Ireland. And note that phrase suggesting that the Irish should “stay aligned with the UK” when it is the British who are moving away from alignment with Ireland and the rest of the European Union. The unconscious assumption that the island of Ireland is part of a sovereign British hegemony is frightening in its ignorance. And speaks volumes of the contemporary politics of the UK.