Brexit is back. The British have now left the European Union, but the two parties are still arguing about their future relationship. Time is running out and the news is piling up quickly, so we’ll have a quick update on what happened this week.
Brexit is living proof that a week can make a world of difference. The cautious optimism of the past two weeks seems to have finally come to an end this week.
While EU leaders reunited on Thursday for the first time in a long time to discuss Brexit and the corona crisis, among other things, Boris Johnson’s Brexit deadline expired. However, a deal was still a long way off on October 15. Although the British deadline is not sacred, the expiration of the date turned out to be a moment for Johnson to tighten up the relations between the power blocks again.
Johnson gives up confidence in current negotiations
Frustrated by the request from Brussels to the British to compromise the negotiations, the British Prime Minister announced on Friday that the country is preparing for a no-deal Brexit.
Despite the fact that a majority of Britons are in favor of a Brexit deal, Johnson says the population should seriously consider a situation without a trade deal. Johnson said in a video message that the current negotiations on, among other things, fishing are not acceptable. The British want to decide for themselves who is or is not welcome in British waters, while they are committed to access to the European market.
Although Johnson’s words should mainly be seen as a threat, they do show that the constructive tone of recent weeks is already far behind us. French President Emmanuel Macron also confirmed this, by saying that his country too, prior to the EU summit is ready for a no deal Brexit. Other European leaders, such as Prime Minister Mark Rutte, took a more careful stance.
Barnier not to London
On Saturday it was announced that EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier and his team will not leave for London on Monday for a new round of negotiations. The Frenchman was told by his British colleague David Frost that the negotiations cannot continue on this basis.
This means that the planned “intensified negotiations” between Brussels and London are canceled. Instead, Barnier and Frost will have a phone call shortly to discuss the structure of the negotiations. It therefore seems that the parties are taking a step back and must first get out of the stalemate. Nevertheless, the willingness of the blocks to continue talking shows that there is still some confidence in a successful outcome.
From Canadian to Australian model
Instead of a trade deal like the one between the EU and Canada, Johnson now appears to be steering on an “Australian model”. The EU currently does not have a free trade agreement with Australia, but small agreements on specific topics do exist.
This would in fact amount to a no deal Brexit. Johnson did, however, say that his preference was for an arrangement like the one between the EU and Canada, which does involve free trade and far-reaching trade agreements. However, such a construction seems to be getting more and more difficult because January 1 – the date on which the transition period ends – is getting closer and closer. Moreover, the current impasse has only made the negotiations more viscous.