Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab has given a clear reiteration of his position that any Irish backstop must be “finite”, “short” and “time-limited”. This will be very hard to climb down from…
“What we cannot do is see the United Kingdom locked in via the back door to a customs union arrangement which would leave us in indefinite limbo. That would not be leaving the EU.”
This is being seen as a stronger commitment than Downing Street’s line this morning that the backstop would have to be “temporary” and that “the Prime Minister would never agree to a deal which would trap the UK in a backstop permanently”.
Brexitologists are now obsessing over questions like “can something be indefinite but not permanent” and “can something be temporary without a time-limit”. The common-sense answer is that it can’t. Is Downing Street about to embark on a fresh round of linguistic gymnastics to try to convince Brexiteers that it can?