Just as I was getting coffee this morning, an excited flurry of news was breaking across the pond. Seemingly out of the blue, a Brexit deal had been reached between British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the head of the European Union commission. As recently as yesterday, the prospects for such an agreement seemed seriously in doubt, but both men were out on social media announcing the success of the talks. But as we’ll get to in a moment, it may not be as solid as they seem to think. (NBC News)
The U.K. and European Union announced Thursday they had agreed to a new Brexit divorce deal, a key breakthrough ahead of the Oct. 31 deadline for Britain to leave the bloc.
However the deal must still be ratified by European leaders and lawmakers in the British Parliament.
Negotiators for the two sides had been locked in talks ahead of a critical summit in Brussels later this week.
The agreement, which looked unlikely just days ago, could break the deadlock that has paralyzed British politics since the country voted to leave the E.U. in a June 2016 referendum.
As with most things these days, the momentous news was first put out on Twitter. EU Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker certainly sounded optimistic.
🇪🇺🤝🇬🇧 Where there is a will, there is a #deal – we have one! It’s a fair and balanced agreement for the EU and the UK and it is testament to our commitment to find solutions. I recommend that #EUCO endorses this deal. pic.twitter.com/7AfKyCZ6k9
— Jean-Claude Juncker (@JunckerEU) October 17, 2019
And BoJo struck the same positive tone.
We’ve got a great new deal that takes back control — now Parliament should get Brexit done on Saturday so we can move on to other priorities like the cost of living, the NHS, violent crime and our environment #GetBrexitDone #TakeBackControl
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) October 17, 2019
So is that it? Johnson wins and Brexit happens on Halloween? Not so fast, sports fans. The deal doesn’t happen unless the House of Commons approves it in a rare weekend session on Saturday. And unless the Prime Minister knows of some Labour defections that nobody else is talking about, he still needs the support of at least ten Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) MPs from Northern Ireland.
That doesn’t sound like a sure thing at all. No sooner had the deal been announced by both BoJo and the EU, Arlene Foster, the head of the DUP, retweeted a statement from the party’s main account saying nothing had really changed.
— DUP (@duponline) October 17, 2019
To give credit where due, BoJo has gotten further than Theresa May ever did. She made endless trips across the channel with what was essentially the same offer and Juncker would always send her back with nothing to show for her efforts. The difference with Johnson’s approach appeared to be the “resolution” of the Irish backstop issue. But it really doesn’t resolve it at all. The deal simply kicks the can down the road for a few years while allowing Northern Ireland to remain in one the main European trade groups.
Perhaps that temporary bandage wasn’t enough to convince the DUP to go along with this. And if that wasn’t bad enough, it’s being reported that the IRA has come out saying that such a deal would mean that any new “infrastructure” along the border would be a “legitimate target for attack.”
New IRA says border infrastructure would be ‘legitimate target for attack’.
Watch now on Channel 4. pic.twitter.com/oqnTP9Aepi
— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) October 16, 2019
Things are getting messy and nobody wants to see a renewal of “the troubles” between the Irish after so many decades of progress toward peace. Boris Johnson may have convinced Juncker, but he clearly has more work to do back home.