1. FOSTER CARE
No.10 always knew that the closer Theresa May moved to a Brexit deal, the rougher would be the pushback from Tory and DUP MPs who’ve long suspected they’ll be betrayed. With a Cabinet meeting now expected on either Monday or Tuesday, it’s going to take a Herculean effort of diplomacy to keep everyone on board. And with the DUP and Brexiteers closer together than ever before, the PM has to handle with care every single step in the process.
DUP leader Arlene Foster has told the Times that a new letter from May, which was meant to reassure her party about the Northern Ireland ‘backstop’ guarantee, in fact “raises alarm bells” for those worried about both the integrity of the UK and a “proper Brexit”. Foster (probably correctly) inferred from May’s letter that the EU’s own solution to the issue would still be in the Withdrawal Agreement, though buried under Brussels verbiage. No10 suggests the letter has been misinterpreted, but the DUP rhetoric is so strong now that it’s hard to see how it can back down.
International Trade Secretary Liam Fox added to the PM’s woes yesterday with a warning of his own about a cunning plan to create third party arbitration of any mechanism that pulls the UK out of a new customs arrangement with the EU. “Ultimately that decision has to lie with the sovereign British government..that decision can’t be subcontracted to somebody else, that needs to be an issue for a sovereign British government to be able to determine,” he told broadcasters in Whitehall. But will Fox really quit if he doesn’t get his way? One minister pointed out to me recently that he and Gove hated being out of the Cabinet so much that they’re unlikely to ever voluntarily leave it again.
Even if the Northern Ireland issue can somehow be resolved, the European Research Group is digging in on the wider UK-EU ‘alignment’ in a future trade deal. Steve Baker tells the Guardian: “In the end, it’s not really about the backstop..Many of us have long believed that the row over the backstop is at least partly confected in order to have an orchestrated breakthrough. If you look at the evolution of the discussion on the Irish backstop, it became a very good excuse to say we have to have a ‘high …read more
Source:: The Huffington Post – UK Tec