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Johnson Promised Brexit—But May Deliver Engxit

David Frum
 

By David Frum (Original source The Atlantic)

LONDON—”Just before lunchtime on October 17, 2019, Britain and the European Union announced a deal on a smooth British exit from the EU. This is the second such deal in less than a year. The previous deal was rejected by Parliament and capsized the career of former Prime Minister Theresa May. Will this new deal come to a happier conclusion? And what is happiness in this context anyway?

The new agreement is reportedly 500 pages long, recapitulating most of the elements of the rejected 2018 agreement. There is, again reportedly, one big difference between May’s deal and Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s: Ireland. (The word reportedly is doing a lot of work here, because I write only a few minutes after the agreement was announced and before the release of the full text.)

Ireland! Always Ireland. For nearly 150 years, disputes over Ireland have broken British governments, wrecked British parties, and sparked guerrilla war and terrorism on the two islands. The issue seemed to have been settled forever by the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. Brexit revived the Irish issue, in all its ancient intractability.”

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