London Bridges to Nowhere
In December, negotiators from the European Union and the United Kingdom were able to conclude phase one of the Brexit negotiations by leaving key issues unresolved. But British leaders' apparent conviction that they can muddle through the Brexit process is setting up the UK for a rude awakening.
LONDON – Last week, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson resuscitated an age-old proposal for a 22-mile bridge to be built across the English Channel. The irony has escaped no one. Johnson is calling for a fantasy bridge at the same time that he is destroying his island country’s only true bridge to the continent: the European Union.
Johnson’s bridge proposal shows yet again that the Brexiteers’ entire project is based on a permanent suspension of disbelief. In December, the European Commission played along, allowing Prime Minister Theresa May to pretend that she can reach three mutually contradictory goals concerning the United Kingdom’s departure from the EU.
The UK’s first goal is to maintain a soft border and frictionless trade with the Republic of Ireland, which will remain an EU member state, subject to the rules of the European single market and customs union. The second is to establish identical regulatory regimes throughout the United Kingdom, including in Northern Ireland. And the third is to “take back control,” by leaving the single market, customs union, and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.