Peter Foster @pmdfoster Europe Editor of the Daily Telegraph. Formerly based in Washington DC, Beijing and New Delhi. Opinions my own. May. 23, 2019 3 min read

SO in @BorderIrish @BorderIrishSea news it emerges that Karen Wheeler, the civil servant trying to manage the circus is leaving. She had a hard job and people who worked with her said she was a valiant straight-talker. Which is valuable in a world.../1

....of constant delay and obfuscation by politicians. Time and again, as I reported, meetings of the Border Delivery Group got cancelled because the wretched cabinet couldn't agree on them. /2

And when NI business groups did finally get engagement, there was admirable clarity, despite all the wishful-thinking and head-in-the-sandism of the politicians. /3

And then to her credit she spelled out that there were 'no magic solutions' to the border, if #brexit meant customs controls. Not 'no' solutions, just no magic ones /4 

All this, as it happens, just as @GregHands and @NickyMorgan01 are in NI for a fact-finder on the viability of their 'alternative arrangements' plans.... I wonder her seriously they are prepared to listen to those who live/work the border. I hope seriously. /5

I am losing count of the number of "serious and open-minded" conversations about border measures that, when you mention UK promise for "no new infrastructure, related checks and controls" then say, "ah yes, well that..we'd have to change that.." /6

So that brings to the dreaded backstop and the renegotiation of the December 2017 Joint Report which @BorisJohnson or @DominicRaab will presumably have to renegotiation...unless we're going back to the October backstop and a @BorderIrishSea (shhh, don't tel DUP) /7

And speaking of the @duponline ..check out this @DianeDoddsMEP
campaign vid for today #EP2019...nothing like staking the middle ground. Not :( /8

Check out the DUP manifesto on the backstop..not a word about 'alternative arrangements''s a 100% compromise-free zone /9 

Am told that the interviews between DUP and @BorisJohnson and @DominicRaab have been a rather nasty shock in Belfast. Though they shouldn't have been surprised. If Ireland becomes a block to #Brexit, hard to bet on Ireland winning that fight. /10

Recall the leaked @BorisJohnson letter from June 2018 (h/t @faisalislam from memory) which a very reliable sources tells me was the fruit of a trip to Ireland in which it dawned on BJ that the border is indeed tough nut to crack. /11 

Not clear to me how you get to an @BorderIrishSea as long as @duponline are in confidence and supply with govt, but that only speaks to the fact that the new Tory PM will face same constraints as the last one. /12

Divisons aside, the DUP still wants #Brexit because it believes it will lead to the same sunny uplands as some Tory Brexiteers....although @duponline manifesto has a *very* curious request for more police.

You might ask, if Brexit so brilliant, why need more cops????


Getting the Stormont executive back together might provide another avenue for legitimising 'special status' for NI (which it already has to some degree)....but I don't hear huge optimism about prospects for this. Others like @SJAMcBride @JP_Biz @PatLeahyIT might say different?/14

My contacts on UK side are willing, keen, but gloomy....the window for a deal, even with government support on both sides is tight - needs to be done before the cash-for-ash #RHI @BiomassScandal enquiry reports, since @DUPleader Arlene Foster will not come out well from it. /15

All pretty gloom really. It's why I'm not sure I buy all this talk of the Boris Johnson reverse-ferret, soft-soap on the @theresa_may #Brexit deal, since if it passes it = customs union, via backstop or as a result of the trade negotiations where reality dawns. /16

But maybe Karen Wheeler will be proved wrong...maybe @GregHands and @NickyMorgan01 and @ShankerASingham are, as we speaking, setting straight @MichaelAodhan @Freight_NI @ManufacturingNI

Let's see.... 17/ENDS

You can follow @pmdfoster.


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