Brexit Irony: EU Rejects Its Own Proposal


Boris Johnson Proposes a Northern Ireland solution. This is what the EU originally proposed.

Brexit Irony

When Theresa May first started negotiating Brexit, Michel Barnier, the EU's negotiator, suggested a Northern Ireland Backstop.

Theresa May how to reject that idea because she needed 9 DUP MPs to hold her fragile coalition together.

Brexit Basics

BBC Brexit Basics shows a NI solution is what the EU originally proposed.

A Northern Ireland only backstop? This is what the EU originally proposed.

It would involve Northern Ireland alone remaining in the EU's single market and customs union, leaving Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) free to strike trade deals.

But the DUP - a Northern Ireland unionist party that propped up Theresa May's minority Conservative government - objected to this.

Idea Revived

Boris Johnson revived the idea, somehow getting DUP on board, but now the EU seems united against its own idea.

Barnier Objects

European Commission Objects

Placing the Blame

The Guardian Live once again has a good synopsis.

The DUP has accused the Irish government of being “obstructionist and intransigent”. This is from the DUP leader Arlene Foster, commenting on what Simon Coveney, Ireland’s deputy premier and foreign minister, said earlier about the Brexit deal being unacceptable in its current form.

"The Irish government’s preparedness to dump the consent principle for their country’s expediency is foolish in the extreme and sends a very clear message to unionists."

Donald Tusk, European Council President

Tusk is "Open but Unconvinced".

What's Going On?

  1. Bluff by Ireland?
  2. Bluff by EU?
  3. Irish Intransigence?
  4. EU Intransigence?
  5. All of the Above?

Note the one missing ingredient: UK Intransigence.

Despite appearances, I do not think it is number 4. My guess is 1, 2, and possibly 3.

Odds of Deal

Yesterday, I noted On the Verge of a Brexit Breakthrough.

I see no reason to change that view.

The important point is not the seemingly major disagreements but rather the fact there are are major negotiations underway.

A bluff by Ireland and the EU are highly likely. The alternative is Irish Intransigence, EU Intransigence, or both.

I rule out EU Intransigence on the grounds that the EU will go along if Ireland does.

Key Point

The flippant Dublin reaction to the Prime Minister’s proposals has also exposed the reality that the Irish government would never have consented to the United Kingdom leaving the backstop if it had been implemented.

Admitting the Trap

Majority in UK Parliament on Board

Boris Johnson has achieved something everyone thought impossible:

A Majority!

  • DUP is on board
  • Rebel Labour MPs on board
  • Hard Brexiteers on board
  • Most Tories on board

All Aboard

Steve Baker, the chair of the European Research Group, which represents Tories pushing for a harder Brexit, and one of the 28 “Spartans” who voted against Theresa May’s deal on every occasion, tells Johnson: “We now glimpse the possibility of a tolerable deal.”

Johnson says he welcomes that coming from Baker, although he says the two have spoken regularly in recent days, and so, he implies, he is not surprised to have Baker’s support.

That's pretty amazing actually. And note this.

Northern Ireland’s chief constable, Simon Byrne, has said that his officers will not staff any form of border security after Brexit. At a meeting of the Northern Ireland Policing Board earlier, Byrne said he had “made it clear” to the Northern Ireland Office that police would not “staff any form of border security” after the UK leaves the EU.

If Ireland or the EU sink this deal, the most likely consequence is No Deal.

Polls show that Johnson will clobber Jeremy Corbyn in an election. Heck, the Liberal Democrats might even become the opposition leader.

The EU has to understand this.

Excellent Eleven-Tweet Chain on a Landing Zone

Conclusion" The goal is a decent UK-EU working partnership with peace and legitimacy for Ireland, North and South."

Duff adds in a second Tweet "Johnson is frank about turning away from May’s agreement. In these circs, what works for Ireland that is better than no deal ?"

May's Deal

It is clear that May's deal was better for the EU than Johnson's deal. But it can't pass.

The choice will be between Johnson's deal (assuming he can work one out) or no deal.

For political purposes, the Tories and the Liberal Democrats want elections. For political reasons the EU does not want the UK having a say in EU policies and procedures.

Excellent Speech by Johnson

Hand Exposed

The hand of the those allegedly wanting to stop No Deal is exposed.

  • No majority for a referendum.
  • No majority for elections
  • No majority for a caretaker government
  • No majority for Remain

Labour, the Lib Dems, and SNP say their top priority is to stop No Deal and they are against Johnson doing just that!


Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Comments (31)
No. 1-17

Boris Johnson only gets more popular among the populace by presenting to parliament a withdrawal agreement that solves the key problem with May’s withdrawal agreement. This agreement lets the UK reclaim its sovereignty, the right to decide its own laws rather than being forced to kneel before its EU masters and beg for mercy.


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To be reenacted and filmed in the streets of major financial districts everywhere, by homeless actors in donated business suits, drones, and some computer assistance for more gushing realism as they flee screaming, while being eaten away alive! The footage will be priceless! Sharknado move over! I am donating this blockbuster concept, and all my royalties, for the greatest box office hit EVER made, to the feudal Lords and Ladies of Hollywood, in the certainty that they will in turn be generous to the many eager artists who will make it come to life! 'Nuff said. Now let's get to work! Please feel free to reply for technical advice. S.


No Mish. The real problem is the UK has been posturing and politicking the entire time. Johson's proposal was the first proposals the Brits came with in 10 weeks! The EU welcomes any sign of initiative and diligence on the part of the UK. But instead of ironing out workable proposals and legislation, the whole Brexit shit show has been for media effect and domestic political consumption.

The whole notion that this is all about brinkmanship, bluffing, ultimatums, forcing the other side's hand, manipulation, stand-offs and shifting blame is like labor contract negotiations in the Anglo-Saxon world, where every proposition is approached in terms of who loses worst and forcing the other party. What has not been happening is the nitty gritty of coming up with workable proposals than can be turned into legislation, counter proposals, discussion, clarification, compromise, and inching ahead to an agreement that both sides can live with. Instead we have seen declarations of intention, vague suggestions, and especially posturing.


Of course DUP now agrees- they no longer hold any leverage since Parliament went pear shaped in early September.

I have to hand to Johnson, though- with all the neysayers saying he was bamboozled, he now has the upper hand over the EU and the Remainers, and all of this without a backing in Parliament.

The Remainers now face a grim choice- give up, or do a VONC and replace Johnson. I now think a VONC might well fail if tabled, and not because some want an election at a certain time, but because there is no longer a Remain majority in Parliament. Polls have a way of concentrating a MP's mind.



A caretaker government could potentially last a long time but only if Corbyn agrees to stand aside and the EU allows it.

Those are a couple of big ifs, but possible. Remainers are so splintered Johnson and Lib Dems want an election. Johnson to win it, Lib Dems and J both to finally get rid of Corbyn.

Lib Dems have a key role here: Stop Corbyn from becoming PM even as a caretaker.

Corbyn was really pissed the other day when Swinson would not agree (for the 3rd time) to allow Corbyn to become caretaker.

Hell of a lot of moving pieces here!


The more they offer to the EU, the more they demand. They just wang to "punish" the UK so bad nobody else will ever think about leasing the EU. It has worked with Italy. The UK shouldn't be torn into pieces just to satisfy unelected bureaucrats. The don't care about Irisn consumers or businesses, they just want to build a big, fat empire with their own army.


I think there is a fundamental difference in the original EU proposal and Johnson's current plan and that is in the factor time. Johnson's proposal sees NI leave after 4 years, so essentially postpones the problem. No Deal doens't just let all the problems on Ireland disappear. Even at No Deal they will still have to be dealt with. That's why I am so surprised that people would actively promote No Deal. Purely from a trade negotiation POV it makes sense, but it disregards a whole lot of poiltical and cultural issues.

Deep Purple
Deep Purple

It is not the same proposal as the NI-only backstop. BoJo suggests a customs border inside of Ireland (presumably without any border infrastructure :) ). Northern Ireland would not remain in the customs union.

The DUP and the ERG can support this proposal as much as they want because they know the EU won't. Who is bluffing then?


The backstop was forever. Johnson wants 4 years at a time, and to let dup decide every 4 years. That's the difference and that's why Ireland doesn't want it.

Heady Chicken
Heady Chicken

Mish, I fear that you are reading some news outlets with agenda and then just copy pasting their spin of events... What EU and Ireland always wanted - and what UK claimed to want as well but clearly didn't mean it - is to have no land border in Ireland. That is what backstop always tried to guarantee. Latest proposal from UK would have land border appear in Ireland, because the proposal does not include full participation of NI in Single Market. Boris himself acknowledged that customs checks will be required on land. "Custom checks" are just that - a border.

In fact, latest proposal's moniker is "two borders for four years" - have you not seen that at all? it was all over the news... Two! freaking borders.

Deep Purple
Deep Purple

By the way, the new proposal would create a fantastic new entity in Northern Ireland where the regulations of Brussels and the customs regime of London apply simultaneously. Economic black hole.

That is the cherry on top of the ignored peace agreement.


Mish, your first line in this post re-writes history. Mrs May first proposed an all Ireland backstop, the EU accepted and the deal was ready to sign. The DUP then told May the deal was unacceptable and so it was back to the negotiating table. Government lawyers have just given assurances in the Scottish courts that if the liar cannot get a deal then he will sign the letter and ask for an extension. No dying in the ditch just meek submission to the law. The liar has form for this. He promised his constituents at the last GE that he would vote against the proposed new runway at Heathrow. Come the vote he buggered off to Afghanistan, thus not voting against, leaving his constituents fuming.


From Ireland's perspective a no deal scenario is far better than any kind of deal which results in northern Ireland actually leaving the EU.

A no deal outcome would result in some short term economic pain but it would likely result in the break-up of the UK and a unification of Ireland. This is an outcome Ireland is willing to accept a little pain over.

Polls in northern Ireland are increasingly anti-Brexit, and it wouldn't take much more to create a 51% majority unification vote in northern Ireland.


Mish, I understand that you are against a bureaucratic and socialist institution (read: politburo) like the EU, but what I don't understand is why you cling onto this wishful thinking idea that Brexit and BoJo's '3-D chess' (like Trump's ill conceived trade war) is going to be such a grand succes...


BOJO is going to ask for extension . A very surprising thing is that @avidremainer has not posted anything yet.


leave, and leave the d@mn border open. see what happens to the eu’s precious tariff and regulatory trade barriers then. sure to boost the irish economy.

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