December 1, 2020

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Catching up on Brexit: Missed another deadline, Brexit mastermind leaves | NOW

Catching up on Brexit: Missed another deadline, Brexit mastermind leaves | NOW

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.

Missing deadlines seem to be inextricably linked to the exhausting Brexit negotiations. And this week it worked again. Once again, the negotiators on both sides failed to reach an agreement before a deadline. This time it’s about the deadline of mid-November. In the past week, too little progress is reported to have been made in the negotiations, which largely took place on British soil.

From deadline to deadline

And as befits the Brexit negotiators, a new (informal) deadline has already been set. A video meeting of the European Council will take place on Thursday 19 November. The camp of EU negotiator Michel Barnier wants a trade deal on the table before this date. If this does not happen, alarm bells are likely to ring in Brussels. In just over a month, EU officials will then have to devote themselves to drafting emergency laws to limit the damage of a possible no-deal Brexit.

Nevertheless, the negotiations are said to have made steady progress recently, as the British Treasury Secretary Rishi Sunak has confirmed. Insiders are therefore cautiously optimistic about a possible deal. And a number of developments on the other side of the North Sea could add even more to this.

Johnson’s controversial Brexit bill rejected

In the night from Monday to Tuesday, a large majority in the British House of Lords rejected Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s controversial Brexit law. The House of Lords wants Johnson to honor the agreements previously made with the EU on Northern Ireland. The fact that the House of Lords has opposed the law en masse seems to show again that a large part of the British are in favor of a trade deal with Brussels.

Should the EU and Great Britain negotiate a trade deal, the controversial passages from Johnson’s Brexit law are unlikely to be an option. In the original withdrawal agreement, the EU retains control of trade with Northern Ireland, in part to prevent controls from being carried out at the border with EU member state Ireland.

Brexit mastermind leaves number ten

After years of loyal service, it was announced on Thursday that Boris Johnson was saying goodbye to top advisor Dominic Cummings. The resigned right-wing man is seen by many as the spiritual father of the Brexit campaign and an advocate of tough negotiations with the EU. After Cummings leaves number ten (10 Downing Street, the official residence of the UK Prime Minister) it could lead to a more constructive tone in the Brexit negotiations. This could potentially give Johnson more control over talks with Brussels.

It is still very questionable whether this will also lead to a quick agreement with the EU. Even if an agreement is actually reached next week, like the UK, it will take time for the EU. After all, a trade agreement must first be ratified by the UK Parliament and all EU member states. The latter in particular could take some time.