It’s a saga that has been rumbling on for what seems like an eternity, with the very real possibility of families up and down the land discussing the issue of the Irish border and immigration over their turkey dinner at Christmas.
But finally, the ice between the UK and the EU regarding Brexit seems to have thawed; just in time for the weekend deluge of snow and frost that is supposedly on its on way.
There’s good news to report today, with European Commission head honcho Jean-Claude Juncker stating that ‘sufficient progress has been made’ for talks between David Davis and EU representatives to be stepped up a notch or two.
Like all good arguments, both sides need to be satisfied before the matter can be put to bed, and it seems as though both parties in the Brexit discussions are finally reaching some kind of common ground.
DUP Digs in Their Heels
Cast your mind back to the disastrous last General Election, where the hung parliament required the DUP, one of the controlling political parties in Ireland, to prop up the Conservatives and just about get Theresa May and co over the finishing line.
Well, in a delicious twist of irony, it is the DUP who are actually holding up the negotiations, to a lesser or greater extent. They wanted confirmation that the Good Friday Agreement would be upheld, which was a whole host of policies that were put in place at the time of the Northern Ireland peace process.
And, mot crucially, no hard border would be installed between the Northern and Republic sides of the country.
The DUP’s leader, Arlene Foster, told the BBC she was pleased that there would be ‘no red line down the Irish Sea’. “We have had confirmation that the entirety of the United Kingdom is leaving the European Union, leaving the single market and the Customs Union,” she continued. “But there are still matters there that we would like to see clarified.”
And the Irish Foreign Minister, Simon Coveney, said the latest deal was a ‘very good outcome for everyone on the island of Ireland.’
The European Council’s president, Donald Tusk, came out with a statement that suggests he is touting himself for the role of relationships expert on This Morning. “We all know that breaking up is hard but breaking up and building a new relation(ship) is much harder,” he said. He was of course talking about Brexit, rather than taking a phone call from one of the flagship daytime TV show’s loyal listeners.
So What Does It All Mean For Us?
After a late night phone call between May and EU representatives, the Prime Minister chartered an overnight flight to Brussels to continue talks over the weekend. The upshot is that she has secured an initial deal, of sorts, to take negotiations forward.
“After some tough conversations, we’ve now agreed a settlement that is fair to the British taxpayer. It means that in the future we will be more able to invest in our priorities at home, such as housing, schools and the NHS. We will continue to preserve the constitutional and economic integrity of the United Kingdom.”
Those were the defiant words of Theresa May this morning from a hastily-arranged press conference at 05:00 – an impressive feat in itself given that at that time of the day most of us can barely put a single syllable together, let alone a sentence.
The point of all this is that Brexit negotiations can now move forward to something more substantive, which means for the rest of us we can a) expect some concrete decisions to be made as to how the UK moves forward in a post-EU world come March 2019, and b) relax that Christmas and New Year will not be dogged by talks of border control, trade agreements and citizen rights….none of which should be heard above the din of ‘can you pass me the turkey?’ and ‘has grandad been at the sprouts again?