It's on, it's off. Oh wait, now it's back on again...hang on though, it was never really on in the first place…and now we're back to square one and it's halfway through October. Tick tock, tick tock…
That seems to be the general consensus of our political commentariat, who've been following every tortuous twist and turn of these increasingly fraught and fanciful Brexit negotiations. Once again the thorny issue of the Northern Irish border has thrown a spanner in the works, accompanied by pie in the sky expectations of frictionless borders between two independent and self-governing jurisdictions.
Whilst the EU indulges the fantasy that it can maintain some kind of legal control over the UK post Brexit, Britain daydreams about sending goods and products into a foreign jurisdiction without so much as a cursory customs check.
If there was the political will to manage this change in a pragmatic and co-operative way, there would simply be no need for these circular conversations endlessly revolving around some non-existent, magical border solution, which is how we know this is a political issue rather than a legal or technical one.
For example, more than 4,000 passenger vehicles and 10,000 commercial vehicles cross between the US and Canada every single weekday via the Ambassador Bridge
alone. In other words, the Irish border problem is eminently manageable if each party is willing to abandon its unattainable political goals.
It's also a bit rich for the EU to be so suddenly concerned with border management, after deliberately letting more than a million undocumented migrants literally break down the gates and march straight into Europe. No such danger exists along the Irish border.
It's no coincidence that our one and only land border with the EU (aside from Gibraltar) is presenting the biggest single obstacle to progress on any kind of meaningful Brexit deal. As I've watched these increasingly preposterous discussions unfolding, I've come to believe the EU isn't really interested in the Irish border per se, but they're especially interested in sending a message to twenty-seven other nations for whom land borders would be a much bigger issue if they decided to leave someday.
I think this is the real agenda behind the EU's illogical insistence on continued regulatory control over a nation which will no longer be a member of the bloc. They know perfectly well that no sovereign nation worthy of the name would ever agree to such an outrageous demand, but they also know that the remaining twenty-seven members are paying close attention.
The Irish border problem isn't really about the Irish border. It's about showing those other nations within the EU just how difficult and bloody-minded Brussels intends to be if its authority is challenged. We could solve this problem fairly easily if the European Union had any political interest in doing so, but they obviously don't, because it was never really about that.
I've said for some time now that the EU has no political interest in reaching some kind of reciprocal deal with any nation that dares to leave. It's now clear that the Irish border has been chosen as the pretext for a no-deal Brexit.
Don't be afraid. It could not be otherwise.
Images courtesy of Ted C & Phillip Flores at FreeImages.com