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How does Boris Johnson solve Brexit now?

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Does Boris Johnson have a plan to get Britain out of the EU? If he does, it is likely to fail, which would mean that on 1 November we will still be in the EU and our new prime minister may well be announcing a general election – saying parliament has blocked him and he needs a new mandate to finish the job.

That seems the most likely outcome to me, but let us go through the Johnson government’s Brexit challenge step by step to test our assumptions and to see what other paths history might follow.

The first assumption is that Johnson will try to renegotiate the withdrawal agreement, but that he won’t obtain significant changes. This isn’t because the EU side is inflexible, although it is, but because there is no easy solution to the problem of the Irish border.

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The EU wants a guarantee of an open border between Northern Ireland and the Republic, and a guarantee implies some way of holding the UK to its word. Hence the terms of what is known as the backstop, which can be ended only by agreement of both sides – an arrangement described as vassalage by the Brexit purists who sabotaged Theresa May’s deal.

Maybe the EU side will agree a time limit to the arrangement, or a relaxed definition of an open border, with checks being........

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