So, as was to be expected, a deal has been done. Also, as was to be expected too, it doesn’t give the religious sectarians of the DUP a veto as was initially floated. Apart from the arrangements for Northern Ireland, the withdrawal agreement is exactly the same as Theresa May’s.
The Irish backstop (which would have kept the whole of the UK in a customs union with EU in the event of no trade deal being negotiated with them) would probably never have been invoked as some trade deal was bound to be agreed. It did, however, strengthen the EU’s hand in these negotiations. The EU has now agreed to give this up. In the (unlikely) event of no trade deal within 5 years it’s only Northern Ireland that risks remaining aligned (which, incidentally, is what the EU originally proposed; it was May who in a concession to the DUP insisted that whatever applied in NI should apply to the whole UK).
The “political declaration” is also different in that it holds out the prospect of the future trade deal being a free trade agreement rather than some closer trading arrangement with the EU. That’s not really what the dominant section of the British capitalist class want but the political declaration is just that — a non-binding declaration of intent, just a piece of paper. If the withdrawal agreement itself is accepted, nothing prevents a future government ignoring the political declaration and negotiating a different trade agreement retaining a closer alignment with the EU and easier access to its single market. That’s still to play for for the dominant section of the capitalist class even if the new deal is accepted.
The opposition parties, who are representing the interests of the capitalist class better these days than most Tories, still seem to think that they can get the UK to remain in the EU and are going to try and sink the new deal. With the help of the DUP they may well do so. We’ll see on Saturday.
If they succeed, then what? More of the same, the same old, boring and irrelevant debate about the trading arrangements of the British capitalist class, complicated by the political ambitions of the career politicians on both sides of the House of Commons. It’s a dismal prospect. The side show has ceased to be amusing and it’s time the actors were booed off the stage.