Hark! Is that the sound of the Brexit penny dropping for the UK?

World

Hark! Is that the sound of the Brexit penny dropping for the UK?

Signs of progress come after Angela Merkel quietly disabused Boris Johnson on the Irish customs border question

Peter Foster

What a difference a week makes. Six days ago, after Boris Johnson spoke on the phone with Angela Merkel, it seemed for all the world as if the Brexit talks were doomed to end in failure; this weekend there was sudden optimism about the prospects for a deal.

After that call on Tuesday, Downing Street said a deal was now “essentially impossible” because Merkel had made it clear that Brexit could not lead to the creation of a customs border in Ireland.

This had been a key plank of the British proposals to “abolish” the Irish backstop, offering to align Northern Ireland on EU single-market rules but conducting customs checks with so-called alternative arrangements – in short, a mixture of exemptions and facilitation technology...

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