What Johnson really wants

What does Boris Johnson want to achieve in talks with the EU? Officially everything revolves around the backstop for Ireland – and the controls at the Irish border. But in reality it’s about more than that.

It’s about a liberal programme. Liberal – not neoliberal. Because Johnson has broken with the austerity dogma of his predecessors; he is reaching deep into the treasury to overcome the Brexit shock.

This liberal programme is based on new free trade agreements, for example with the USA, lower taxes and lower social and environmental standards. The goal can be described as “Singapore-on-Thames” – and seen as dumping at the expense of the EU.

The first step is to remove the backstop for Ireland. In the current version, the backstop would keep the whole of the UK in the customs union with the EU, making it impossible to conclude new free trade agreements with third countries.

The second step is to delete the level playing field Johnson’s predecessor May agreed to in the Political Declaration to be annexed to the withdrawal treaty. Johnson would like to delete this declaration without replacement.

The third step is to shorten the post-Brexit transition period so that the UK can break its commitments to the EU more quickly. Johnson has already announced that this phase will not last two years, but will end at the end of 2020, as originally agreed.

All this is causing the EU a great deal of pain. But it does not want to say that publicly. It is better to pretend that Johnson hasn’t yet got anything – and that the debate is all about the backstop. In truth, negotiations are already underway – with pretty hard bandages…

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator. The original post (in German) is here