Barnier’s Deputy Says Backstop Will Be Used to Lock UK In

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Theresa May has often insisted that Brexiteers should simply swallow the backstop, unpalatable as it is, because there is little chance of it ever being used. This argument has taken a hammer-blow overnight with multiple reports from Brussels that Sabine Weyand, Barnier’s deputy who leads the EU’s negotiations at a technical level, has been telling EU ambassadors that the EU plans to use the backstop as the basis for the future relationship with the UK locked into the customs union and “level playing field” arrangements on social and environmental policy. Confirming all of Brexiteers’ warnings about the UK becoming a permanent vassal state…
According to The Times, Weyand told EU ambassadors:
“We should be in the best negotiation position for the future relationship. This requires the customs union as the basis of the future relationship… They must align their rules but the EU will retain all the controls. They apply the same rules. UK wants a lot more from future relationship, so EU retains its leverage.”
Weyand also said that the UK would be forced to concede on fisheries, one of the last remaining red lines May is attempting to cling to, saying that the UK “would have to swallow a link between access to products and fisheries in future agreements”. The gaping hole at the heart of the Government’s Brexit strategy is that it has not made any preparations to leave the customs union or single market in any meaningful sense. The EU knows this and is exploiting it mercilessly.
Ironically, the one thing it does do is bring the Government’s position almost entirely into line with Labour’s, the only difference being that the Government is still claiming that the customs union and level playing field arrangements will be temporary, while Labour – and evidently the EU – want them to be permanent. May has zero chance of getting the deal through Parliament on Tory and DUP votes alone, with the DUP further hardening their opposition to the deal overnight, however the Labour frontbench is still continuing to dangle the possibility of a shock decision to back the deal. This might be May’s only hoping of getting the deal through Parliament but it would surely signal the death knell of her leadership…

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