When it seems that it cannot get any worse, after a ‘successful’ jaunt though the British Parliament with a majority of only three votes, Theresa May’s customs bill proposals for Brexit went though with four amendments after some deliberation in an effort to keep the leave camp on board.
Three amendments – Stopping the UK from collecting tariffs unless the rest of the EU reciprocates, ensuring the UK is not a part of the EU’s VAT regime and introduction of legislation should any government want to form a customs union with the EU were implemented by the European Research Group which is led by backbench Eurosceptic Jacob Rees-Mogg with whom Pro-EU MP, Anna Soubry suggested was now “running Britain”.
But for many the introduction of a change that rules out the possibility of a border between Northern Ireland and the British mainland has now made the EU’s “backstop” on customs null and void.
The most likely outcome now seems a hard border with no compromise on the impossible situation as it stands.
At this stage, it now seems that May is talking out of both sides of her mouth, promising no border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland yet also assuring up till this week that the only solution as agreed last year in the form of a backstop is kept on the table.
The only question is, how is it conceivably achieved without a hard border?
With the Irish government now preparing plans for a hard Brexit scenario, it is a case that all parties are beginning to move to a realisation that a decision needs to be made and the result will be a huge loss on one side – a balanced deal seems impossible now as long as internal problems such as the DUP propping up the British government, the resignation of leading figures and a possible leadership battle hangs over the head of those still left in government.
Speaking recently to the Irish national broadcaster, Irish Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe warned that the future trading relationship between the EU and UK remains unresolved.
Mr Donohoe said that Ireland would be moving into “a new phase of preparedness” to cope with different scenarios from 2019 and beyond.
While common sense should dictate that if there is to be a Brexit, and it is becoming increasingly likely that this will happen regardless of the cost, then it needs to be a one that involves the British staying connected in some way by using the current set-up which either as part of the customs union, single market or both.
But despite the obvious solution staring everyone in the Tory party in the face, there is still no wake up call. It begs the question on what are the true motives of the likes of Ress- Mogg and co and what do they really stand to gain by a hard Brexit. There is no argument at this stage that any Brexit is going to impact negatively on the UK economy but a hard result would be disastrous for all involved. So is it a case that some have invested in an economic fallout? Are they betting on Britain losing so much in the short term that they will have contingency plans to buy cheap and sell expensive in years to come?
Whatever their motives, it now seems that the British public are at sea with what will be the end game while the rest of Europe, in particular, Ireland is building fallout shelters for the nuclear winter that will follow.