Brexit is back. The British have since left the European Union, but both sides 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.
After last week’s fireworks, the Brexit carousel was back in full swing this week. It started last weekend when several predecessors such as Tony Blair and Theresa May publicly opposed Boris Johnson’s controversial bill on Sunday. A day later, David Cameron, the architect of the Brexit referendum, also joined this group. The criticism of several former prime ministers, however, turned out to be insufficient.
Chaos in number ten
On Monday evening, a majority of British parliamentarians voted for the new “Brexit law”, which repeals parts of the withdrawal agreement. However, this did not mean that the new law had a free hand.
For example, some prominent members of his own Conservative Party have argued that Johnson’s plans are contrary to international law. After many arguments, the Prime Minister came up with one Compromise proposal comes on. The Johnson administration promised to get parliamentary approval before parts of the so-called Northern Ireland Protocol could be rejected.
Despite this commitment, Richard Keen, the British government’s lawyer, considered the “illegal” new Brexit proposal sufficient to step down. Despite the criticism, the Johnson cabinet appears to want to continue the controversial law and still believes in a positive outcome.
Brussels passes the ball on to the British
In Brussels, the vote in the House of Commons and the subsequent negotiations were viewed with suspicion. For example, Ursula von der Leyen pointed out in her speech to the European Parliament that nothing can be changed in the previous pension agreement between the EU and the United Kingdom. “Every day the chances of a timely trade deal diminish,” said the Commission President. In addition, von der Leyen emphasized that the law and mutual trust must be of central importance for the negotiations.
Chief negotiator Michel Barnier also pointed out that Johnson’s actions have led to a breach of trust and that it is now up to the British to regain trust. With the October 31 deadline approaching and Johnson’s difficult position in his own country, it is still very questionable whether both parties can get closer in time.