Ireland has an effective veto on allowing the EU-UK trade talks to proceed further. The EU has given the UK 10 days (now eight, I suppose) to come up with a solution to the border problem or trade talks will be further stalled. Furthermore, the Irish want a real solution to the problem, not a fudge like “okay, we want to avoid a hard border too, so we’ll try our best” or “zeppelins will patrol the Irish border” – they want the UK to decide on what they will do to avoid a hard border and commit to it. Which means either the UK remains in the Customs Union, or Northern Ireland stays in the CU and is given special status, meaning the island of Ireland will be united for all intents and purposes, with the a hard border between the whole of the island and Britain.
To surmise: either Theresa May keeps the UK in the Customs Union, enraging her own party and probably ending her premiership; she keeps Northern Ireland in the CU, and the DUP brings down the government and there is another election; or she does neither and the trade talks don’t go ahead, and whatever hell that unleashes. In other words, we are in the midst of a major national crisis. Yet pundits seem to be taking the whole thing very, very lightly all things considered.
Is it because everyone figures the Irish will just cave on this? Why would they? Some are clinging to the crisis unfolding within the Irish government, with Fianna Fail threatening to bring the current supply and confidence arrangement down, bringing on another election. But that election would be fought on which party could be hardest on the British as the main issue. So, things would only possible get worse from a UK perspective.
I feel like I’m missing something here. Why is everyone so calm about this? Our prime minister has been given a week and a half deadline to decide the fate of the country. Seems like a big deal to me, but what do I know.