As a former teacher I'm quite accustomed to people not listening. That's why I always regarded the golden rule of successful teaching to be:
- tell them what you're going to tell them;
- tell them
- tell them what you've told them.
Unfortunately it doesn't seem to work with British politicians, or the British media.
From the beginning the European Commission has been perfectly and repeatedly clear that progress on trade deals etc could not proceed until satisfactory arrangement had been made on the three basics of the UK's "divorce" settlement, the status of EU nationals already in the UK, and the Irish border.
It has always been obvious that the divorce settlement would be easiest to settle because it is the easiest to fudge. Now that fudge has been reached. Boris Johnson's lofty assertion that [the EU] could "whistle for their money" was clearly directed at his potential supporters - "Boris will tell 'em!" - rather than a serious contribution. An initial offer of around £20bn was hinted at and the EU was said to be thinking of anything up to €100bn.
Now the compromise of around £/€50bn appears to be on the table but, since no specific final amount is mentioned, and the payment could be in instalments over several years, or even decades, after the initial indignation the whole thing will be pushed into the long grass as we obsess on other things (possibly more royal babies.)
A civilised reciprocal arrangement for EU citizens already in the UK and UK citizens remaining in the EU should not be beyond the will of skilful diplomats. "All the rights you already have," announced on the day after the referendum, would and should have been a healthy start. If our government were capable of shame they would experience it in the cruel folly of making people's lives a bargaining chip
But there really is no credible solution to the problem of the Irish border. The Brexiteers fantasise about some technology so modern that it does not yet exist which will allow free passage of goods and services from Northern Ireland, in the UK and outside the EU, to the Republic of Ireland, in the EU and outside the UK, without the UK's being in the Customs Union or even the Single Market
This obviously can't be done. the Irish Government and the EU's negotiators,have said so from the beginning. The Brexiteers, and their supine media supporters, have simply not listened, and now cry "foul" as the December deadline for the next stage of the talks approaches.
This earlier post illustrates how tragic it will be if this wilful blindness upsets the fragile peace based on the Good Friday Agreement and results in a resumption of the "Troubles" which have caused so much misery for ordinary people for the past century and more.