Despite the rhetoric from Downing Street, Boris Johnson could effectively buy more time for finalising Brexit. ROGER CASALE explains more.
There was a time when Brexit was the only thing we wanted to talk about. Now it seems to be a conversation stopper on both sides of the channel.
Many Britons are walking instead of talking. A recent study has shown that 17,000 more British citizens per year have moved to an EU member state since 2016.
The Brexit negotiations are failing to engage the publics attention. The UKs chief negotiator, David Frost, burbles a never-ending stream of platitudes.
“We have had constructive discussions on trade in goods and services, and in some of the sectoral agreements… but considerable gaps remain….”
Meanwhile, Barnier continues to insist there is little prospect of a trade deal by the time of the October EU council (15-16 October). That is a key date as any agreement must be vetted and ratified before the transition ends on 31 December.
David McAllister MEP, chair of the European Parliamentary Committee on the UK-EUs future relationship said: “The end of October is a solid deadline for the European Parliament to scrutinise the agreement before giving its consent.”
A no deal Brexit would see food and car prices rise in the UK, for example, as well as shortages of medicines. No one has made a secret of the fact that there would be huge delays and tailbacks at Dover. Yet there are, as yet, few signs of panic.
In 2019, Boris Johnson unexpectedly, agreed a border down the Irish sea, breaking a promise not to do so. Can he pull another rabbit out of the hat today?
A new trade deal would be seen by Eurosceptics as backsliding on a commitment to make a clean break with the EU. Iain Duncan Smith, a member of the European Research Group [ERG] and former party leader has even started to attack the existing Withdrawal Agreement on the grounds that it commits the UK to paying its debts!
This is even worse than it looks. As Brendan Donnelly, director of The Federal Trust points out: “Iain Duncan Smith rejects the Withdrawal Agreement, for its terms and because he does not regard the EU as a reliable or well-intentioned partner.”
The last time such reactionary sentimentality got in the way of clear strategic thinking was the 1930s. That is why it is right to compare the ERG with appeasers.
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