Submitted by Taps Coogan on the 6th of March 2019 to The Sounding Line.
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According to the Irish backstop in Theresa May’s transition plan, if the EU and the UK cannot agree to a trade deal that guarantees a “completely friction-less” border between Ireland and North Ireland, the UK will be forced to remain in a customs union with the EU. The UK would be stuck in that customs union, without an exit mechanism, until the EU decides otherwise.
The only way to guarantee a “completely friction-less” border in Ireland is for North Ireland, and by extension the entire UK, to remain in an EU customs union. Even if the UK disagrees with that assessment and offers a friction-less border without a customs union, it doesn’t matter. The EU must agree that the border is completely friction-less, and they will inevitably decide that it is impossible without a customs union.
One way or the other, accepting a transition plan with the Irish Backstop all but guarantees that the UK remains in an EU customs union post Brexit.
Remaining in an EU customs union means accepting EU rules, regulations, tariffs, and relevant legal jurisdiction. It would also make it impossible for the UK to strike meaningful trade deals with other countries. The UK would have to abide by external EU tariffs. The UK would also likely be forced to continue to pay into the EU budget, yet would have no voice in EU policy.
Remaining in the customs union after leaving the EU, defeats all of the advantages of leaving the EU.
The EU insists that they have the kindest intentions and do not want to trap the UK in the customs union. If that were true, they would renegotiate the Irish Backstop, which they refuse to do.
If the UK Parliament rejects the Irish Backstop plan on March 12th, they will have a vote on Hard Brexit on the 13th. All signs indicate that Parliament is unlikely to vote for Hard Brexit; though it is now the only remaining path out of endless purgatory in the EU customs union.
Assuming that the Hard Brexit vote fails, on the 14th, there will be a vote for a delay of the Brexit date. All 27 EU nations must agree to that extension, and they will demand some concessions from the UK for doing so. One concession they could demand would be a guarantee that the UK remain in the customs union. What the UK plans to do with that extension is a mystery because the EU still will not renegotiate the Irish Backstop. It could simply open the door to another referendum, returning everyone to square one.
There is only one remaining way out of the EU customs union and it is Hard Brexit.
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