While the coronavirus pandemic has supplanted Brexit as the main problem facing the UK, much remains to be done to leave the European Union.
Despite officially leaving the EU earlier this year, the UK is in a transition period where it is technically still a member. Britain has taken its coat and is out with one foot, it will actually leave the property at the end of 2020.
Meanwhile, the issue of the post-Brexit trade deal remains to be worked out. The relationship that will be as of 2021 is currently unclear and should be decided before the transition period is over, it will determine what exactly the UK is stepping into.
Even before Covid-19 dominated the attention of governments around the world, the 11-month period to determine what the future relationship between the UK and the EU would be was described as too short to negotiate a trade agreement covering all bases would cover.
Negotiations have stalled as neither side seems willing to deviate from their current position, putting the UK and the EU back on track to part ways without a trade deal, which is expected to cause significant damage.
Time is pressing both for the conclusion of a trade agreement and for the possible extension of the transition period, although the UK is determined to continue following the current course, even if it leads to a no-deal Brexit. Is that really where Brexit is going?
Professors Anand Menon and Jonathan Portes believe the prospect of a no deal is Brexit “back with revenge” after Downing Street indicated that it was willing to run away from the talks if ministers think they are not making any concessions.
Brexit negotiations failed with the BBC there is not even agreement on the basic structure of a potential deal.
The EU wants one deal that deals with trade and the future relationship, the UK prefers a Basic Free Trade Agreement and a set of separate arrangements for areas where it has more specific preferences.
The UK and the EU are also far apart on the level playing field, guaranteeing that companies on both sides have no advantage over the other, and fishing rights.
Whether the claimed distance in negotiating positions is an attempt at grandeur or loud talking to the domestic audience remains to be seen, but the clock is ticking and there really isn’t much time to be saved for political attitudes.
Even if both parties plan to close a deal, it is possible that enough time will be wasted that there simply will not be the opportunity to finalize even the most basic trade deals before the deadline.
Government ministers have said they have no intention of extending the transitional periodOne of the first things the Conservatives did after winning the general election was to amend the Brexit law to avoid asking for an extension. Any possible withdrawal from that position should be quick and embarrassing.
If we succeed without an extension this month, there will be none at all. The deadline that looms high in negotiations that were already stuck and way behind schedule would continue to press the UK on a damaging path.
With both parties unable to agree on a deal and time running out, a no deal Brexit is not only back on the table, but also the current destination of the talks.
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However, that does not mean that no solution can be found. Tight deadlines have a habit of getting people to agree to things they would never have agreed to at the start of the negotiations.
Johnson once said he would not agree to a deal that borders the Irish Sea, then the pressure to get a withdrawal agreement prompted him to make a deal with the EU, which did just that.
Both parties know the full details of the position taken by the other and each will need to provide some ground to reach an agreement. If all negotiations involved each party, who set out their position and refused to budge altogether, much would never be agreed.
Sky News reports that figures within the government are confident of a last minute breakthrough. The UK falls out of the EU without a deal and is in nobody’s interest.
Write in the Daily telegramPatrick Geddis suggests that even if we leave with a no-deal Brexit, it won’t be long before the UK wants to conclude a trade deal with the EU. Crashing is not a permanent appointment.
Is the UK on track for a no-deal Brexit? Yes, but that doesn’t mean we’ll end up here. As long as negotiations are underway, there is an opportunity to close a deal.
The transition period ends on December 31, which means the new year heralds the new settlement that has hit the UK and the EU.
By then, a trade deal must be in place to avoid a no-deal Brexit, but in reality agreement needs to be reached earlier so that it can be approved by parliaments and EU Member States. The EU believes that there will be enough time to approve the deal if an agreement is reached at the end of October.
The deadline for an extension of the transition period is June 30, although UK and EU lawyers would not be able to pull off a “magnificent fudge”.
An extension would also require the British government to win a vote in the House of Commons and withdraw an amendment it had made to the Brexit bill, preventing them from approving further delays.
It should be said that a no-deal Brexit would not be exactly the same now as it was before Westminster and Brussels signed the Withdrawal Agreement, which was agreed late last year.
The UK’s remaining financial contributions have been resolved and arrangements have been made on the situation with the border in Ireland the Government Institute has warned that these arrangements will not be completed in time for the end of the transition period.
MPs in Westminster have been told the UK’s borders will not be ready for Brexit by the end of 2020. Not enough customs officers have been recruited and the lack of space for some ports to expand will cause problems.
Dr. Anna Jerzewska of the UK Trade Policy Observatory said Britain’s borders would not be ready for Brexit. A lack of time to prepare and a lack of clarity about what to actually prepare for hindered efforts.
Meanwhile, the need to hire 50,000 new customs officials seems to have hit the problem that there are not 50,000 people in the UK interested in a job as a customs officer.
The economic damage from a no-deal Brexit, in which the UK would miss eight percent of growth over the next 15 years, is no longer Britain’s biggest financial blow. Which is now provided by the coronavirus, predicted to cause an economic decline of 11.5 percent this year and possibly rising to 14 percent in the case of a second peak.
If one followed so closely, it would kick the British economy if it came under pressure, adding to the pressure on many who would already struggle with the impact of the pandemic.