If Northern Ireland Gets Special Deal, London and Scotland Want One Too

Sadiq Khan and Nicola Sturgeon are unlikely to get their way. It would mean putting up a border with the rest of the country.

View of the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh, Scotland, November 16, 2011
View of the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh, Scotland, November 16, 2011 (Wikimedia Commons/Ronnie Macdonald)

The leaders of London and Scotland have called for special status if Northern Ireland is somehow partially exempt from Brexit.

Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, tweets:

Londoners overwhelmingly voted to remain in the EU and a similar deal here could protect tens of thousands of jobs.

Nicola Sturgeon, the first minister of Scotland, agrees:

If one part of UK can retain regulatory alignment with EU and effectively stay in the single market (which is the right solution for Northern Ireland) there is surely no good practical reason why others can’t.

A majority of Scots also to stay in the EU last year. Like Londoners, they were overruled by majorities in favor of Brexit in England and Wales.

Avoiding a border

It is unlikely Khan and Sturgeon will get their way.

The idea behind keeping Northern Ireland in the EU’s customs union and single market in all but name is to avoid erecting a hard border with the Republic of Ireland.

If Scotland were to remain in the customs union and single market, that would necessitate a border with England.

For London, a border would be completely infeasible.

DUP opposition

A solution to Northern Ireland has yet to be found.

Opposition from the Democratic Unionist Party scuttled a deal on Monday that could have moved the Brexit talks forward.

The DUP will accept neither a barrier between the province and the rest of the United Kingdom nor an agreement that would force Northern Ireland to mirror EU regulations.

Prime Minister Theresa May needs the party’s support for her majority in Westminster.