Brexit negotiations have been pretty tricky to say the least and they are showing no sign of easing up as Theresa May faces a row with the Northern Irish government.

The row is dominating news and opinion at the moment, but it is incredibly difficult to get your head around, however clued-up on politics you are. Theresa May’s problem is the Northern Irish and the Irish Republic border once we leave the European Union. The leader of the Northern Irish government, Arlene Foster, who is also in coalition with Theresa May, does not want a ‘hard’ border.

So, you might think that May should move on regardless. However, it’s not that simple. Ms Foster is in coalition with Theresa May because Theresa May needs allies in Parliament in order to have a majority. After she failed to gain a one-party majority at the election earlier this year, she needs Foster’s DUP to prop up her government and, most importantly, pass her Brexit legislation in the House of Commons. Therefore, if Foster believes May’s Brexit offering doesn’t benefit Northern Ireland, she won’t pass it – and ultimately has the power to put Parliament and the Brexit negotiations in a stalemate.

Image result for arlene foster

Arlene Foster

Whether Foster will be the cause of Theresa May’s destruction is another thing, though. She is, alongside May, united in the belief that the Labour Party’s Jeremy Corbyn is unfit for office. So she won’t kick out May lightly as it may trigger an election – one which Corbyn may end up winning.

Going back to the border row, Northern Ireland wants to be treated like the rest of the United Kingdom and still have an open border with the Irish Republic. At the moment, people in Ireland can drive into Northern Ireland and there is a free movement between the two currently as both are members of the European Union. And here is the crux of the issue: the EU.

Theresa May wants to leave the Single Market because if we stayed in, the EU says we have to accept freedom of movement. It is widely believed people voted Brexit, among other reasons, because of immigration. So, freedom of movement is probably a ‘red line’ for May. This means she needs a border between the EU and the UK. As Ireland isn’t in the UK but is part of the EU, it will need to be effectively ‘cut off’ from Northern Ireland, which the DUP are not happy about.

Trouble ahead: Theresa May with Jean-Claud Junker

The other alternative, however, is a border in the Irish Sea. This would obviously be incredibly difficult (dare I say impossible) to regulate and it is something neither side is very clear on. Moreover, it would also separate Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK slightly. Consequently, the other other alternative is to allow Northern Ireland to remain in the Single Market and the rest of the UK leaves. But Ms Foster, who is balancing power in the palm of her hand, is not having that alternative either as she wants to leave the EU on exactly the same terms as the rest of the UK.

It is clear, then, that there is no easy solution to the Northern Ireland situation. But the situation needs resolving quick. With the EU summit coming on 14th-15th December, something has to give as the EU will be voting on the progress of Brexit and whether or not to allow the negotiations to move on to trade.