New Brexit deal: mission accomplished for Johnson?

Two weeks before the deadline the EU and Britain have agreed on a new Brexit deal under which Northern Ireland will be part of the UK's customs territory, but will be subject to EU single market regulations. The House of Commons will vote on the deal on Saturday. Europe's media discuss what comes next.

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De Volkskrant (NL) /

The painful separation begins

A disorderly exit can now be avoided but it's too early to breathe a sigh of relief, De Volkskrant:

“It is a complicated arrangement, but it definitely prevents the nationalist feverish dreams of the British from endangering peace in Northern Ireland. ... If the House of Commons agrees, Brexit can go ahead. A 'no deal' would be prevented. ... However, this will only be the start of a long and painful separation process. After Brexit, the complicated negotiations for a trade agreement between the European Union and Britain begin. Still, the question persists: how can Europe maintain a good political and economic relationship with Britain without London reaping all of the benefits yet bearing none of the burdens of the EU?”

Der Standard (AT) /

The Opposition is making it easy for Johnson

The conditions for Johnson are not the worst, Der Standard explains:

“That his Brexit gamble could prove successful has to do with the weakness of the opposition. In the middle of the most serious foreign and domestic political crisis of the post-war period, social democrats, liberal democrats, the Greens, and nationalists are all pursuing their own narrow party-political interests. The Labour Party is led by the deeply unpopular Jeremy Corbyn, a man who is unfit for leadership, uninterested in power issues and bored with Europe's moral ethicists. And the cynical game played by Scottish nationalists is all about independence; the two sides in Northern Ireland are being pushed into painful, mediocre compromises vis-à-vis unwilling figures.” (GR) /

How Brussels has brought London into line too

In the end Johnson has been forced to submit to the EU, says Protagon:

“Boris Johnson basically took the same route as Greece's ex-prime minister Tsipras [in negotiations with the EU in 2015]. He began by announcing a heroic exit leaving no room for a deal and ended up with an agreement that was also proposed to Theresa May - but with a different name and worse terms. Perhaps he also got a friendly pat on the back from Jean-Claude Juncker, who at the end of his term as EU Commission President reminded everyone once again that the hardliners of Europe only cede ground in negotiations if they want to convey the impression that they are being pliant.”

RTE News (IE) /

PM sacrifices Northern Ireland's Unionists

In order to seal the deal with the EU, the British prime minister has abandoned his political allies in the Northern Irish Unionist party DUP, RTE News concludes:

“Early this morning the DUP learned a horrible lesson about Boris Johnson. The aftershock is too raw at the moment from them to understand this as a case of 'tough love'. What they have discovered to their cost is that Boris is promiscuous, politically. ... It wasn't a case of him throwing the DUP under the bus. But the Boris bus certainly left the station without the DUP on board. Power politics took over. ...Nobody goes through life, particularly political life, without a belt. Today was the DUP's turn.”

Corriere del Ticino (CH) /

The Scots will not give in

The deal will definitely provoke a pushback in Scotland, columnist Gerardo Morina predicts in Corriere del Ticino:

“Even if you try to see the glass half full and a slim majority in Westminster says yes, Johnson will hardly be able to consider himself saved. ... The opponents who voted 'Remain' in the 2016 referendum will not leave him in peace. The members of the Scottish National Party (SNP) in particular will make his life difficult and continue to remind him that Scotland voted against Brexit in whatever form. Above all, this provides Edinburgh with an opportunity to demand a second referendum on Scottish independence after the first one failed. ... And this time without necessarily seeking the consensus of London.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

Backstop only for Northern Ireland

Johnson is now willing to agree to the detested backstop, but only for Northern Ireland, La Repubblica explains:

“Sacrifice Northern Ireland, leave it to the Europeans for a few years and snub the Northern Irish Unionists of the DUP to reach an almost miraculous agreement on Brexit. This is an 'all in', an all or nothing. Johnson has decided to take the risk. ... But the agreement must also clear the Westminster hurdle where the vote hangs by a thread. Because the Unionists will hardly accept the painful compromise Johnson is describing as a new 'fantaaaastic' deal: This is just a clever version of the plan Theresa May considered at the beginning of 2018, namely a kind of 'backstop' that only applies to Northern Ireland.”

Die Presse (AT) /

Old wine in new bottles

Die Presse also sees certain similarities with Theresa May's deal:

“Behind all the theatrical threats of withdrawal without any ifs or buts the visible contours of this new deal are strikingly similar to the core of the original deal between May and the EU. ... How is it possible that Tories who blew up May's deal are now so jubilant? On the one hand this is due to her successor's charisma. If Johnson were a second-hand car dealer rather than prime minister he could sell any rusty old banger. On the other hand, many conservatives are weary of Brexit and just want to get it over with. In this context, May's case fulfils the role of a ritual sacrifice made to the tin god of anti-European populism.”

The Daily Telegraph (GB) /

This proposal will also fail

To get a deal with the EU through the House of Commons Boris Johnson will need the votes of Labour MPs. But he won't, The Daily Telegraph predicts:

“The problem is that most committed Labour Leavers are also longstanding members of the Left. They haven't spent decades outside the corridors of power only to risk Jeremy Corbyn's hold on the party by voting for a Brexit deal negotiated by Johnson. … But the bigger group are MPs who are not Corbynites ... . They know - as does the leadership - that if Labour MPs' votes put Brexit through, Jo Swinson will run round the country telling people that Labour facilitated Brexit.”

hvg (HU) /

A deal is the best scenario for Johnson

hvg explains why Johnson is now striving to reach a deal:

“The way things stand now, Johnson only stands to benefit from an agreement. If he can run in an early election as the man who made Brexit possible, Nigel Farage and his Brexit Party won't have anything left to mobilise supporters. ... Johnson could even win back Tory voters who switched to Farage. By contrast, a no-deal exit could lead to a chaotic situation for which Johnson would pay a high price at the polls.”