Here we go again. The EU is negotiating Brexit with Boris Johnson. But the power struggle in London is far from decided.
Jecken in Kolle: Boris Johnson (l.) and Jean-Claude Juncker Photo: dpa
Negotiations are underway again on the Brexit. Boris Johnson’s meeting with Jean-Claude Juncker and Michel Barnier in Luxembourg on Monday did not, of course, serve to pull an agreement out of the hat. But it did mark a public departure from the previous EU line that renegotiations on Brexit were out of the question.
That was always an untenable position anyway. The Brexit agreement negotiated in 2018 failed three times in the British Parliament and will never be approvable in its current form. If the EU does not back down from this, it is accepting a no-deal Brexit – and with it all the associated upheavals, including a hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Since the EU has signaled that it will find ways to avoid such a hard border even in the event of a no-deal – for example, by shifting customs checks elsewhere – the claim that only the unloved "Northern Ireland backstop" guarantees an open border has been fully exposed as a fiction: if there are alternative border arrangements in the event of a no-deal, they can be included in a deal.
Nor is it a change of course for Boris Johnson to now want to negotiate a new Brexit deal. He has always called for precisely this and sharply distinguished himself from Nigel Farage, who favors a no-deal Brexit. It is its own parliament that is making a new agreement more difficult by legally ruling out a no-deal Brexit and thus taking the pressure out of the talks – an irresponsible stance, because so far parliament has rejected every Brexit model except the very one Boris Johnson now wants, i.e., the present agreement minus the Northern Ireland backstop.
The power struggle in London is far from decided. Regardless of the turmoil at Westminster, Brussels and London must now sound out how they can wrap up a Brexit agreement before October 31. Otherwise, the next crisis is imminent. And no one needs that.