- Ireland is back in play
- and the transition deal, when seen in black and white, stings.
Some thoughts after a week talking to all sides /1
The stridency in tone in London and the apparent impotence of May feeds a kind of equal and opposite stridency in Brussels.
TF50 being very sticky-prickly at moment, I hear. /3
The so-called 'punishment clause' reflects that approach, even if in practice it is a "nuclear option" /4
But speaking to 4 different MS and EU side, there is doubt UK can do March transition deal. /5
May needs to be a fight, as in phase one over money. But fights costs time. Purists are raising cost of climbdown daily. /6
Hammond in Davos, the CBI and - we understand - today's Cabinet Cmme will base their plan on the 'three baskets' idea. Managed divergence. UK negotiators predicate disucussion on this idea. /7
Even discounting for EU posturing on level playing field (demanding Norway-level safeguards for Canada-level access) it's hard to see how 3 buckets works. /8
Diluting the coherence of the single market really does seem to be an EU existential issue. And not just in Berlin./9
Part of this, I think, goes back to the above point on atmosphere and trust. Or lack thereof. /12
Not least because a 'hybrid' solution, involving technology (not as crazy as EU likes to make out) also leads potentially for the need for Ireland-Schengen checks, or at least spot checks. Bad for Ireland. /12
It is perhaps a testament to lack of coherent thinking in govt that the magial 'option 2' (mirroring) is being discussed again /13
But it is also important to step back and recall that the Irish issue long pre-dates the single market and its rules.
Unicorns, NO but unique solutions? Well maybe if everyone calmed down /14
A workable UK starting position will go a long way to focusing minds. For now, it's all prodding and poking.and prickles.