Well, twenty-four hours really is a long time in politics. The surprise is not that the EU has demanded Northern Ireland as the price for Brexit but that the gloves are now off and that Number Ten has made it public. I suspect strongly that Mrs Merkel said exactly the same thing to Mrs May, which explains much of the draft Selmayr-Robbins treaty (Selmayr himself said explicitly that losing the six counties was the price Britain would have to pay for leaving). Mrs May did not of course tell us that this was the EU's position - and I wonder whether she mentioned it to the Queen during her regular weekly briefings.
That Downing Street made the demand public - a demand that could not be denied by the Bundeskanzlerei, as the conversation was undoubtedly recorded - marks the real political change. Mrs May aimed for an agreement that the EU would find acceptable; Boris is looking for an outcome that the citizens of the UK find acceptable. That is an enormous difference in approach.
I've no doubt that some fatuous idiot will pop up and opine that as NI voted 'remain' this is reason enough for the EU to insist on sovereignty over the province. Asinine. Demography in Northern Ireland may mean that at some time, maybe in five years, maybe in twenty-five, that there will be a majority in the Province to join with the republic of Ireland. This is wholly a matter for the people of Northern Ireland, wholly a matter for a referendum for only that purpose. That decision has not yet been made.
Well, I cannot take pleasure in being correct when I doubted that the Prime Minister's deal would get the three green ticks it needed, but yesterday's events have brought us to a point that is hardly unexpected - a clean Brexit. It also leaves remainers in the position of advocating the loss of Northern Ireland as the price they would pay for a deal with the EU. Not a position, I suspect, that will be popular with voters.