This morning a joint report was issued from the Brexit negotiations which satisfied the Irish government and the DUP on border progress, and by extension the EU that discussion could now progress to a trade deal.
The critical part of the text is this:
The United Kingdom remains committed to protecting North-South cooperation and to its guarantee of avoiding a hard border. Any future arrangements must be compatible with these overarching requirements. The United Kingdom's intention is to achieve these objectives through the overall EU-UK relationship. Should this not be possible, the United Kingdom will propose specific solutions to address the unique circumstances of the island of Ireland. In the absence of agreed solutions, the United Kingdom will maintain full alignment with those rules of the Internal Market and the Customs Union which, now or in the future, support North-South cooperation, the allisland economy and the protection of the 1998 Agreement.
In the absence of agreed solutions, as set out in the previous paragraph, the United Kingdom will ensure that no new regulatory barriers develop between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom, unless, consistent with the 1998 Agreement, the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly agree that distinct arrangements are appropriate for Northern Ireland. In all circumstances, the United Kingdom will continue to ensure the same unfettered access for Northern Ireland's businesses to the whole of the United Kingdom internal market.
Both Parties will establish mechanisms to ensure the implementation and oversight of any specific arrangement to safeguard the integrity of the EU Internal Market and the Customs Union.
I am neither a lawyer or a politician, but to me this reads - quite clearly - that any deal will, for the most part, have to replicate the UK's current membership of the Single Market, the Customs Union and the European Court of Justice. If it fails to reach a deal, it will remain bound entirely by those agreements?
If this is the case, then surely the EU now has zero motivation to perform any further talks? It can take its £50bn divorce payment and simply force the UK to agree to all its other existing obligations?