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Peter Foster @pmdfoster
, 18 tweets, 7 min read Read on Twitter
The Chequers plan is dying. May faces rebellion on both sides. She can survive, but not proceed. So what happens next? Some thoughts after chats with both sides.

(Shorter: it's still all about the Irish backstop)

As talks get under way in Brussels today, the EU can:

a) attack - eviscerate Chequers for cherry picking

b) parry - play for time, probe UK real red lines

c) focus on what is deliverable to conclude Withdrawal Agreement in Autumn /2

More here:…
It is the last of these where smart money lies. Chequers is dying anyway and is a 'future relationship issue'.

The focus is delivering a divorce treaty by 29.03.19 and for this most of work is done.

Except the backstop.... /3
There are other outstanding issues, but sources on both sides concede that these could be resolved, but Barnier/TF50 has held them up because it doesn't want to isolate the Irish backstop question...

Which contrary to some recent speculation, remains unresolved. Here's why. /4
At risk of disagreeing with @davidallengreen thread here

The White Paper does not mean UK is preparing to swallow backstop that keeps Northern Ireland in "customs territory of the Union" /5
@davidallengreen Ponder what this means: we swallow backstop deal in Autumn. Trade talks break down in transition. The backstop kicks in....

At that point a *customs* border descends down the Irish Sea.

That is fundamentally different from regulatory border that exists now. /6
@davidallengreen In that no-deal scenario, that would leave NI in EU single market, while UK suffers hard Brexit.

The east-west customs checks would be chaotic indeed, but NI would have free access to Single Market...and Scotland, which never wanted to leave the Single Market, would not. /7
@davidallengreen Which is why the UK proposes an all-UK solution that would leave the UK in a temporary customs union with the EU, even in the event of a crash-out in 2020. That is the nature of the backstop.

The problem is that the EU says that is impossible. /8
@davidallengreen The EU is clear that legally Article 50 (divorce deal) cannot cover future relationship issue - that must be done under 218.

So UK must accept backstop that caters specifically for Northern Ireland.

At this point, core interests clash. /9
@davidallengreen For the EU, the integrity of the single market, for which NI cannot become a backdoor in the event of no deal.

For the UK, the territorial integrity of the UK, which likewise cannot be ruptured by a no deal.

This conundrum is not resolved. Who will give?

@davidallengreen The *customs* border is key here.

It is possible that both sides could mutually de-dramatise the regulatory checks.

After all, NI does have existing checks for veterinary, timber and fertiliser etc. So it would a question of degree, not principle. /11
@davidallengreen At that point the ERG amendment on 'no customs border' in Irish Sea reflects UK government position - which is why June 7 tehcnical note mooted an all-UK customs solution for the backstop. /12

@davidallengreen The reality is both sides are still talking past each other on this issue. Both sides think the other will fold.

The Brits argue that EU has already busted the legal sanctity of Article 50 by including backstop (which covers future) at all. So could accept UK-wide solution. /13
@davidallengreen The EU side recall the leaked Civil Service of Northern Ireland paper setting out how an east-west customs border might work, with 'red channel' 'green channel' checks etc.

But UK side is v clear this can't happen.

@davidallengreen So if you focus on need for a divorce deal in by Christmas, Chequers is mostly noise. It won't fly. And is dying anyway. The EU don't need to kill. They just say that transition depends on a Withdrawal Agreement, which in turn depends on an operational backstop. /15
@davidallengreen Of all the red lines, these are the reddest, the rawest.

For the EU, the cogency of the single market. For the UK, the unitedness of the Kingdom itself.

The EU, Dublin can wait, watch the pressure build...but no deal, no backstop at all is a catastrophe for Ireland. /16
@davidallengreen If Chequers was May's attempt to massage n muddle our way to an Autumn deal, it seems obviously to have failed.

The anger of the 17.4m and the grassroots is so clear, which is Greening/Mandelson/Blair and co have tactically decided to kill it too. /17
@davidallengreen The #Brexit choice, always binary, as I've written so many times, is crystalising into a choice between a diamond-hard Brexit....or no Brexit at all.

Not clear now that the politics on either side is prepared to buy into the necessary fictions needed to find a middle road. ENDS
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