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 have a quick update on what happened this week.
Brexit is living proof that a week can make a big difference. The cautious optimism of the past two weeks seems to finally come to an end this week.
While the heads of state and government of the EU met on Thursday for the first time in a long time to discuss, among other things, Brexit and the corona crisis, Boris Johnson’s Brexit deadline expired. However, on October 15, a deal was still a long way off. Although the UK deadline is not sacred, the expiry of the date turned out to be a moment for Johnson to re-tighten relations between the power blocs.
Johnson gives up confidence in the ongoing negotiations
Frustrated by Brussels’ request to the British to compromise the negotiations, the British Prime Minister announced on Friday that the country was preparing for a no-deal Brexit.
Despite the fact that the 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 ongoing negotiations on fisheries, among other things, are unacceptable. The British want to decide for themselves who is welcome or not in British waters while advocating access to the European market.
While Johnson’s words should be viewed primarily as a threat, they show that the constructive tone of the past few weeks is well behind us. French President Emmanuel Macron also confirmed this by saying ahead of the EU summit that his country was also ready for a no-deal Brexit. Other European leaders such as Prime Minister Mark Rutte took a more cautious stance.
Barnier not to London
It was announced on Friday evening that EU negotiator Michel Barnier and his team would not leave for a new round of negotiations in London on Monday. The Frenchman was informed by his British colleague David Frost that the negotiations cannot proceed on this basis.
This means that the planned “intensified negotiations” between Brussels and London will be canceled. Instead, Barnier and Frost will receive a call shortly to discuss the structure of the negotiations. It therefore seems that the parties have to take a step back and get out of the stalemate first. However, the willingness of the blocks to continue talking shows that there is still some confidence in a successful outcome.
From the Canadian to the Australian model
Instead of a trade agreement like the one between the EU and Canada, Johnson now appears to be steering an “Australian model”. The EU does not currently have a free trade agreement with Australia, but there are small agreements on certain issues.
This would in fact mean a no-deal Brexit. However, Johnson said he preferred an arrangement like the one between the EU and Canada, which included free trade and far-reaching trade deals. However, such a construction seems to be getting harder and harder as December 31st – the date when the transition period ends – approaches. Furthermore, the current impasse has only made the negotiations more sluggish.