, 17 tweets, 21 min read
As we wait for white smoke to rise in Brussels, there's lots in the Sunday papers to mull over...starting with this nugget from @ShippersUnbound about how Northern Irish security fears pushed @BorisJohnson into pinning his ears back and going for a deal... /1
@ShippersUnbound @BorisJohnson Full story linked to below (£££) but spin aside, it's interesting that NI security & stabiity fears (derided as insifor months by many hard Brexiteers) are now cited as animating factors in the need for a deal. /2

@ShippersUnbound @BorisJohnson I've always been sceptical as reg readers will know about viability of a 'no deal' - both as a useful negotiating threat but also as an actual outcome that Johnson could really contemplate. It's such a messy way to get back to the deal space we've alwasy needed to reach. /3
@ShippersUnbound @BorisJohnson I wonder if Johnson's apparent decision to 'pivot' on customs has now shot the 'no deal' fox whatever the outcome?

Because whatever the short-term outcome of talks in Brussels, there's an implicit recognition that is deal-zone discussion we'll need to have anway. /4
@ShippersUnbound @BorisJohnson Which makes the second half of the Shippers story seem rather half-hearted - viz Johnson will offer Merkel/Macron a 'take it or leave it gambit' - the whole 'friendly' no deal thing doesn't really exist.

Which leads us to the Mail on Sunday story... /5
@ShippersUnbound @BorisJohnson Which highlights the (brave, I think) political risk @BorisJohnson is taking in pivoting towards a deal without a majority in Parliament and whether, even if a deal does emerge, enough MPs will still want an extension for orderly exit. /6
@ShippersUnbound @BorisJohnson That No 10 is apparently briefing this as a 'plot' - and wants to get a 500+pages of Withdrawal Agreement Bill through by Oct 31 doesn't bode too well.

As @PhilipHammondUK retorts (and @DLidington agrees) a 'housekeeping' extension is common sense. /7

@ShippersUnbound @BorisJohnson @PhilipHammondUK @DLidington But Hammond points to a deeper issue, which is that IF Johnson can stitich together a headline deal in next week, it opens door if Parliament agrees it, to the super-hard Brexit for GB that Mr Johnson alluded to in his letter to @JunckerEU /8
@ShippersUnbound @BorisJohnson @PhilipHammondUK @DLidington @JunckerEU How much harder (a Canada-minus FTA) is set out here by @ChrisGiles_ and is the reason why many MPs will still argue that any deal must go back to a second referendum, and are threatening to use 'super saturday' to attach that as a condition. /9

@ShippersUnbound @BorisJohnson @PhilipHammondUK @DLidington @JunckerEU @ChrisGiles_ Which brings us to @tconnellyRTE methodical (as ever) long read on how we got here....he sums it up thus: "Injury time winner, or fatal gambit?" /10

@ShippersUnbound @BorisJohnson @PhilipHammondUK @DLidington @JunckerEU @ChrisGiles_ @tconnellyRTE His piece reflects Irish thinkng that Johnson has moved substantively on key areas - customs & consent - to do away with @duponline veto and customs border in Ireland. We'll see if Brexit side and DUP can swallow in due course IF that's what emerges... /11
@ShippersUnbound @BorisJohnson @PhilipHammondUK @DLidington @JunckerEU @ChrisGiles_ @tconnellyRTE @duponline It was notable, I thought, that @Jacob_Rees_Mogg writing in @Telegraph was very much in supplication mode (for all the bombast)....he sounds just like @theresa_may did as she climbed down from the barricades she'd built at Lancaster House and 2016 Tory conference. /12
@ShippersUnbound @BorisJohnson @PhilipHammondUK @DLidington @JunckerEU @ChrisGiles_ @tconnellyRTE @duponline @Jacob_Rees_Mogg @Telegraph @theresa_may All of which means we have a momentous couple of weeks ahead, but framed I think by two realities.

1) Johnson wants a deal and in making that move has made 'no deal' much harder, seriously, to go back to. (It was never a viable idea in my view!) /13
@ShippersUnbound @BorisJohnson @PhilipHammondUK @DLidington @JunckerEU @ChrisGiles_ @tconnellyRTE @duponline @Jacob_Rees_Mogg @Telegraph @theresa_may 2) For all the hard talk, the solutions being envisaged will have to take time.

This customs border in Irish Sea that @tconnellyRTE and other explain, actually needs to be built. It may be in the end we have NI-only and move via transition to this hybrid arrangement /14
It may well all go pear-shaped, but what's happened this week seems prefigure and endgame - whether it comes in transition or via a 'no deal'.

If there's Brexit - and some people still want to stop it of course - then maybe the broad outline of how it happens is there. /15
I hope so. I've been scathing about the strategy, the threats, the cavalier attitude to Northern Ireland but as have repeatedly said, with a pivot it was/is possible. I remain of the belief that #Brexit, even if economically costly, needs to delivered for political reasons. /16
I've still no idea if that's possible or not - politically or technically - this side of an election.

Which was always the argument for parking the future relationship discussion, since that's the bit we really need to be focussed on, and will be decided by the next govt/17ENDS
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