The prime minister has wasted precious time backing fanciful plans that looked unworkable from the start. A change of direction is long overdue
Theresa May’s desire to combine exit from the EU’s customs union with an invisible border in Northern Ireland is not in doubt. The issue is not how much the prime minister wants a solution but whether a solution exists. Without one, Mrs May’s entire Brexit strategy unravels.
Downing Street has been working on technical solutions to this problem, fleshing out formulas described by the prime minister in a speech last month as “a highly streamlined customs arrangement” or “customs partnership”. On Friday, it emerged that those proposals have been flatly rejected by the European commission as unworkable, both from a legal and a practical perspective.