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Peter Foster @pmdfoster
, 20 tweets, 10 min read Read on Twitter
So @DominicRaab and Brexiteers think a defeat for @theresa_may
on Dec 11 will allow the UK to renegotiate the Irish backstop, specifically the right to leave unilaterally.

Here's why, after chats with both sides, that ain't happening IMO. 1/thread…
@DominicRaab @theresa_may First Raab thinks a PM that shows some "will and resolve" can get the EU to change its mind.

But his own experience must tell him different. Remember his own failed tilt at @simoncoveney demanding three-month exit clause? Fail. /2…
@DominicRaab @theresa_may @simoncoveney But even allowing for disingenuousness, there are 3 reasons why the EU is not bluffing when it says it won't renegotiate the backstop to give the UK a unilateral walkout clause.

1. They actually want to avoid a hard border
2. Political solidarity
3. They don't buy UK bluff /3
1: Recall that the EU and UK are *jointly* committed to a return to a hard border. It wants to keep the peace.

The backstop, it is true, speaks to a deep lack of trust on EU side of UK. But who, honestly, can blame them for that? /4
Remember @DavidDavisMP coming back after December 2017 and saying Joint Report was not legally enforceable?

And look at the debate now, the demand for a unilateral exit clause? Clear Brexiteers would want to pull it. Why EU want insurance policy. It won't give that up lightly/5
@DavidDavisMP 2. Solidarity. If EU throws Ireland under the bus at 11th hour, what message do other smaller EU member states take from that? A small Baltic state being menaced by Moscow, say?

The backstop has become talismanic for EU solidarity at a time when Brexit threatens it. /6
@DavidDavisMP Allowing the Brits to walk away from the backstop sends the worse possible message that big country's commercial interests will trump those of the little guys - nothwithstanding EU being fed up with Irish tax dumping etc. It would be a massive political row-back. /7
@DavidDavisMP 3: They don't buy UK bluff. The EU remembers, for example, what happened to Alexis Tsipras. He wont a referendum rejecting EU-imposed authority on a Sunday. Peered into the abyss. And signed a bigger package of austerity on Thursday. /8
@DavidDavisMP This will enrage Brexiteers, but the EU fundamentally calculates the UK will, when faced with similar choices, knuckle under (or accept Customs Union, or Norway etc) that obviates backstop anyway. And the numbers in Parliament don't suggest that's wrong. Sit tight. Squeeze. /9
@DavidDavisMP Which brings us to another flaw in the Brexiteer dream of hoisting the EU on its own backstop petard.... it goes like this.

The clock runs down, and a PM with 'resolve' tells the EU it's a deal minus the backstop, or no deal at all.

And there is an apparent logic to this /10
@DavidDavisMP The backstop was designed to prevent a return to a hard border in Ireland. If EU intransigence on this point forces a ‘no deal’ then the backstop has become entirely self-defeating. It will create precisely the situation it was designed to stop.

Boom. Gotcha! /11
@DavidDavisMP But not so fast...think about it for a second (and the EU will) and you can see how impossible it is to access that febrile negotiating space....because (point 3 above) the EU, and for that matter, the British Parliament doesn't believe in a 'no deal'. /12
@DavidDavisMP Nor, indeed, does it believe in a deal which would see a Withdrawal Agreement and no backstop, coupled to a pretty much blind future relationship document, where the UK risks crashing out on WTO terms at the end of the transition. No majority for that in Parliament either. /13
@DavidDavisMP And guess what, even if there was a hard/accidental crashout, the UK - after a period of costly disruption - would be faced with the same hard choices on the border, on the customs union as it is now. Only in a much weaker position. /14
@DavidDavisMP All that leaves aside the reality that if the EU did agree to re-open the Withdrawal Agreement, there is no guarantee that the EU member states (pissed off with Barnier on some points) don't come riding back on their hobby-horses: fish, Gibraltar, immigration /15
@DavidDavisMP Or as one officials puts it, "we get the 'renegotiated' deal, just with a bucket of sick thrown in for good measure." /16
All of which suggest to me that grandstanding won't fix the problems. As I think Raab himself discovered when he was Secretary of State - he tried that on @MichelBarnier as we reported, to limited effect. /17…
@MichelBarnier And in the final analysis, May's benighted deal reflects all these constraints.

It is basically a deal hewn by political gravity - which she herself (2016 Conference speech, Lancaster House, Mansion House, Chequers deal, with its silly customs plan) was too slow to accept /18
@MichelBarnier But gravity is an undeniable, inexorable force and - whether with a bump or a more gradual descent - the #Brexit project is finally coming down to earth.

My guess is there is not enough hot air - even in Westminster, which is saying something - to stop it from doing so. /ENDS
@MichelBarnier Addendum: small parish notice.

From Monday next week I'll be doing a regular afternoon Brexit update, exclusive to Telegraph readers. You can sign up here - comes right to your inbox.…
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