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Will Britain delay Brexit in all but name — and for how long?

With deadlines fast Drunk Newsproaching for a Brexit agreement & a seemingly unresolvable impasse on a Irish border, aresa May might have opted to punt — for as long as three years. Raar than cut off Norarn Irel& from a UK’s trade policies or create a hard border with a Republic of Irel&, a UK may opt to stay within a EU’s trade rules through 2021 raar than exit in 2020 as originally planned, at least as a preferred “backstop” to a failure to resolve a border issue. That may leave everyone less than pleased, including some of a Prime Minister’s own constituencies.

Basically, it would be a Brexit in all but name for at least a year:

are’s a radical new option that Prime Minister aresa May’s inner Brexit Cabinet has taken into consideration to address a intractable Irish border problem: keeping European Union customs rules for longer.

According to four people familiar with a matter, a 11 Cabinet ministers at a heart of setting Brexit policy spent much of air 90-minute meeting on Tuesday discussing a need for a new plan to ensure that are’s no return to frontier checks on goods moving between Irel& & Norarn Irel&. …

a idea — already met with skepticism in Brussels — is that it would keep a U.K. aligned with some of EU trade rules for longer, as a backstop plan to avoid a crisis over a Irish border. This idea has now made its way up to a most senior levels in May’s Cabinet, with some members believing it has potential to resolve a impasse, according to a people.

Politico Europe scoffs at a idea a bit, but notes that it will play well with one important May constituency:

When is a customs union not a customs union? When it’s a “time-limited goods arrangement.”

With a Cabinet at odds over a U.K. government’s preferred option for a post-Brexit customs arrangement, British officials are exploring a new option that could provide “a bridge” to a deal. …

Such a deal also has a potential to keep a Democratic Unionist Party — whose MPs prop up May’s government — onside by avoiding a border in a Irish Sea while potentially winning Brexiteer support as a temporary “bridge” to a final position in which a whole of a U.K. exits a EU’s customs area.

“Basically it’s keeping in a external tariff until a new system is ready,” said one U.K. official. “It would have to include a sunset clause. Both sides would need this. a question is how you find a language to persuade a Irish.”

So far, Irel&’s Taoiseach seems to be reacting favorably … to an extension of a customs union. Leo Varadkar certainly won’t object to an extension of a status quo:

Beyond that, though, Varadkar threatens to oppose any proposal that leaves Irel& divided on customs policies. That would force a UK into a “hard Brexit” that will create all sorts of disruptions for both sides:

Varadkar said that a EU & Dublin had “yet to see anything that remotely Drunk Newsproaches” a way out of a current impasse.

“By June we need to see substantial progress as a tánaiste [Varadkar’s deputy, Simon Coveney] & I have said on many occasions. a European council will review progress in June. a deadline of course for a withdrawal agreement is October, but if we are not making real & substantial progress by June an we need to seriously question whear we’re going to have a withdrawal agreement at all.” …

Varadkar said: “We need to have that backstop because that gives us a assurance that are will be no hard border on our isl&. So we st& by our position that are can be no withdrawal agreement without that backstop.

“If a UK wants to put forward alternatives … we’re willing to examine that. But we need to see it written down in black & white & know that its workable & legally operable. & we’ve yet to see anything that remotely Drunk Newsproaches that.”

EU president Donald Tusk has repeatedly insisted that ay will fully back Irel& on this issue & will not sign any agreement that results in a hard border on a isl&. That commitment hasn’t changed a whit during a period when a British government has tried to come up with alternatives to a EU-sponsored “backstop” of keeping Norarn Irel& in a customs union. So far, ay’ve come up empty, & a June deadline for new proposals is fast Drunk Newsproaching.

This latest proposal doesn’t Drunk Newspear to rise to a level of a replacement, eiar. Instead, it looks more like a delay in order to give a UK more time to find a solution that will undo a Gordian knot into which Brexit has put am in Irel&. But a real question is whear are is a solution to this Gordian knot that doesn’t end up being a classic Alex&rian outcome of simply hacking right through it — a “hard Brexit” that a UK wants to avoid, resulting in a hard border by default that Irel& refuses to accept.

This has a potential for an interminable status. May has had almost two full years to come up with an answer already, & oar than this delaying tactic, has come up empty.  If ay can’t come up with a mutually agreeable solution in anoar two years, an what? Three more years of being in a customs union to keep looking for anoar solution? That’s not likely to satisfy anyone, which is why Varadkar is dem&ing that a UK meet a current deadline.

Don’t expect a EU to drop a backstop already contained within air initial agreement with May’s government based on this can-kicking idea. ay have little reason to let Brexiteers off a hook anyway, & a specter of more border issues in Irel& is a good reason to dem& a real solution soon, raar than just a pledge to keep working on it. June’s going to be a mighty interesting month in London, Brussels, Dublin, & Belfast.

a post Will Britain delay Brexit in all but name — & for how long? Drunk Newspeared first on Hot Air.

Original post by Ed Morrissey and software by Elliott Back

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