This is a frankly excellent article on the new Irish position re Brexit.
It delivers a few key truth bullets that are very insightful when it comes to understanding where the Irish are and just how much the border issue is going to be the decisive one.
As BQ wrote on the previous post over the weekend, the money situation is quite easy. We pay them vaguely what they want, we owe them £60 billion in payments anyway for the next 5 years, so really the argument is over a few billion here or there on a Government budget of £800 billion per annum. it is a rounding error and in return we get a Free Trade Deal likely worth £50 billion a year plus in benefits.
The EU citizens rights piece appears to have made great progress with the UK caving in a little re the ECJ and the EU retreating from demanding extra-territorial rights for its UK citizens, plus with the end of free movement but allowance for a Common Travel Area, a deal is in sight.
When you read the article, this has made the Irish nervous, they are the last piece of the jigsaw and fear the EU riding-roughshod over them (if only there were a solution to that.....). Their new super Pro-EU PM has also sensed, rightly, that now is the time for a battle. After December and a deal is agreed, the real Brexit tension will be off.
Also, more genuinely, a land border with the EU is a much harder deal to both sell to the Irish (note in the UK the hard border with France even today, versus the no border in the six counties) than anywhere else. The Good Friday Agreement is not just a stick to beat the English with, there are some substantive points that the UK has not really addressed. As such the Irish have gone in strong and demanded Northern Ireland effectively stay in the Single Market and Customs Union.
Although aggressive, this is the neatest bureaucratic solution, politically it is very tough to sell to the DUP who are the co-partners in the UK Government. British Ministers seem reticent to engage, from the Republics view, likely because they see the three issues as one and are doing horse-trading scenarios with the EU. The Republic is understandably not very keen on this, but equally has peeved EU negotiators by upping the ante when things are already fraught.
One thing unacknowledged by the article though is how credible the threat is, after all, if the Irish veto a deal, the default no-deal results in a much worse outcome for the Republic than any other Brexit situation. The danger with brinskmanship for both sides is that one might actually cause the breakdown that both fear so much.