TALK about the last minute. Theresa May had originally hoped to agree on a deal at a lunch with Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission president, on December 4th, but it fell apart when the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), whose support the prime minister needs for her parliamentary majority, objected to the provisions for avoiding a border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. She was then told she must reach agreement by the weekend if next week’s European Union summit was to agree that sufficient progress had been made in the first phase of the Brexit divorce negotiations to start talks on the future relationship. After frantic late-night bargaining, a bleary-eyed Mrs May duly flew back to Brussels in the small hours of December 8th so that she and Mr Juncker could declare that a deal had indeed been struck.
The agreement took the form of a 15-page “joint report” covering all three principal divorce issues. In each case, Mrs May has given ground to the…Continue reading