KT edit: No deal will make Brexit hurt more
Last year, Theresa May's government had forged a compromise with the EU on this issue.
Boris Johnson became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom with the promise of exiting the European Union without a deal. The PM claims he is sparing no effort in getting the UK out of the Europe even as Downing Street insists that Johnson is focussed on securing a deal with the EU. But the 8am call on Tuesday between Johnson and German Chancellor Angela Merkel laid bare the contradictions in the messaging that has emanated from the PM's office. Merkel, according to news reports, insisted that Northern Ireland remains in the customs union, which has been a no-go area for the UK so far.
Last year, Theresa May's government had forged a compromise with the EU on this issue. The former PM had agreed to a backstop with the UK maintaining a close relationship with the EU by staying in the customs union for an indefinite period. Europe was happy with the concession but the British parliament rejected the compromise thrice. The stalemate eventually led to May's exit as prime minister. The border that separates Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland has been at the heart of the negotiations. And with the recent statement by the German Chancellor on the North Ireland issue, it seems the UK is back to square one. The EU leaders' summit on October 17-18 would reflect the same views.
Now all this could be part of Johnson's plan. The PM is pressing for a snap election as he wants a majority in parliament, and has been aggressively campaigning for a no-deal Brexit. He wants to be seen as taking a tough stance while portraying the image of strong leader. Even as Johnson is trying to make a case for himself, it is the British economy and businesses that have been at the losing end. A no-deal Brexit could push national debt to its highest level since the 1960s and shrink the economy further. The pound, meanwhile, has also been bearing the brunt of uncertainties surrounding Brexit. On Tuesday, it slipped to its lowest for the month against the euro. It's been three years since the Brexit referendum was held, and the terms of the divorce haven't been concluded yet. With the no-deal rhetoric of the Johnson government, an amicable solution looks unlikely. Only the hurt will linger with a snap exit.