A sliver of light has pierced the gloom of the Brexit negotiations. Since the British and Irish premiers strolled through a Cheshire garden on Thursday, progress on an insurance policy to prevent a future hard border in Ireland has been sufficient for the EU to agree to “intensive” talks. Some 1,200 days after Britain’s In-Out referendum, any such advance is welcome. Boris Johnson’s UK government has insisted Northern Ireland cannot remain in the EU customs union as a matter of principle, yet a majority of its residents disagree. Allowing talks to founder on this one issue — risking the most damaging no-deal Brexit — would be a travesty.

To be sure, the broader shape of Johnson’s Brexit is a long way from the softer alternative this newspaper has favoured. Sealing any agreement, moreover, will require a spirit of pragmatism and compromise long lacking on all sides. Yet if Britain’s prime minister is genuine about wanting a deal, he should build on this progress. He must be rea...

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