Now: there seems to be just a tiny contradiction in whatever it is that Theresa May thinks she has 'agreed' with the EU. But - hey, tiny is enough! And through this contradiction threatens to pour the Irish Sea.
We don't need to fall back into triumphal 'Richard North' mode here, wearing a smug grin and shouting HaHa, You Cretins, HaHa! In many circumstances, yer average Eurocrat would not be in the least dismayed: he has tried-and-tested ways around these things. Kicking the can down the road; creative ambiguity; out-and-out fudge; even agreeing things in writing that are infeasible ... Alice-Through-The-Looking-Glass doesn't trouble them, with her silly worries about believing impossible things.
"I daresay you haven't had much practice," said the Queen. "When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."Unfortunately, however, for the usual smooth running of European matters, the EU is in an unusually non-creative mood just now. They have foolishly felt obliged to write everything down in their best 14pt Sans Serif, causing even the irredeemably unimaginative Mrs May to notice what she's done. Now Major and Blair before her both agreed to things they didn't understand; but they had the political will to tell the House of Commons to knuckle down and get on with it. May, of course, has none. So the contradiction is all set to bring the House down. I imagine many Irishmen on both sides of the (- dare we say it -) Border will be working themselves into apoplexy as I write.
Other things being equal (which they rarely are, see "creative ambiguity" above) this is the end of the cosy transitional arrangement. It might look as though the contradiction is just in need of a home: Mrs May hopes to pass the parcel to the EU (OK, you build a hard border if you want one), and vice versa. But RAA doesn't work like that: a contradiction will pop up just anywhere.
Anyhow, today I met some German friends. They tell me Germany is quite keen on a couple of years of transition, in order to give themselves more time to unpick lots of complex arrangements currently in place. They cite Corbyn's latest pronouncement - against Corbyn himself. That convoluted story of his about Minis:
"... many businesses have supply chains and production processes, interwoven throughout Europe. Take the UK car industry, which supports 169,000 manufacturing jobs, 52,000 of which are here in the West Midlands. If we look at the example of one of Britain’s most iconic brands in this sector, the Mini, we begin to see how reliant our automotive industry is on a frictionless, interwoven supply chain. A mini will cross the Channel three times in a 2,000-mile journey before the finished car rolls off the production line. Starting in Oxford it will be shipped to France to be fitted for key components before being brought back to BMW’s Hams Hall plant in Warwickshire where it is drilled and milled into shape. Once this process is complete the mini will be sent to Munich to be fitted with its engine, before ending its journey back at the mini plant in Oxford for final assembly. If that car is to be sold on the continent then many of its components will have crossed the Channel four times."The German response is: do you imagine this situation will last any longer than it takes us to make alternative arrangements? Only an immediate 'Hard Remain' will stop us pulling the plug.
So - it's either WTO and Hard Borders all round; or, Mrs May gives up the ghost; or, the EU goes back into creative-fudge mode. Anybody's guess. But RAA and the laws of logic are not mocked.