Boris Johnson wants an indefinite pause on his treaty obligations, but awkward facts of geography and economics will not change

In Brexit negotiations, no deadline is final. Reliably, it is the UK that needs an extension. Just as consistently, the reason is failure to understand the implications of something that had been agreed before the last deadline.

In accordance with that pattern, the government this week once again extended “grace periods” waiving checks for goods moving between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. An early March deadline had been unilaterally abandoned by the UK; a second date of October was agreed with the European Commission. Now, David Frost, Brexit minister, says the waiver is to be indefinite “to provide space for potential further discussions” on changes to the Northern Ireland protocol.

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