Irish border marks a line in the sand for any Brexit deal in this dangerous game of chicken with the EU

THE EU and UK are engaged in a very dangerous game of chicken over the Irish border.

There has been almost no progress on this issue over the summer — and without an ­agreement on it, there can’t be a deal.

EU and UK are engaged in a very dangerous game of chicken over the Irish border

One of those involved in the negotiations on the British side tells me the EU “believes we will blink first”. But the British won’t do that.

One Brexit red line that Theresa May is adamant that she will never cross is her insistence that no British PM could sign the EU’s proposed text on the Irish border, which would see Northern Ireland become part of the customs territory of the EU.

But the two sides need to sort this issue out. For the alternative is no deal, a scenario that neither side is prepared for.

One Cabinet minister tells me that “no deal would be almost a state of economic war” between the UK and the EU.

AFP or licensors The EU ‘believes we will blink first,’ a Brexit talks insider tells me – pictured Dominic Raab with Michel Barnier[/caption]

This is an exaggeration. But it does show the tensions it would lead to. No deal would also result in the kind of Irish border that both sides say they are keen to avoid.

Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, is prepared to ­produce a de-dramatised ­version of the backstop.

This would concentrate on the 16 areas where the EU thinks there would need to be checks between Britain and Northern Ireland.

The hope is that the dry, technical nature of this ­document will make it less controversial.

But the UK will still struggle to sign up to this backstop.


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