Brexit: London sees “no basis” for a resumption of negotiations

The United Kingdom reiterated on Monday that it still does not see “basis” for a resumption of post-Brexit trade negotiations while welcoming Brussels’ proposal to speed up discussions, the days now numbered to escape a “no deal ”. Already sluggish, discussions escalated Thursday, when the 27 in council demanded concessions from London to reach a free trade agreement in time to apply it next year, when European rules cease to apply. apply in UK.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson then declared the talks “over” and asked the British to prepare for a “no deal”, a potentially devastating option for economies already shaken by the Covid-19 pandemic. After a phone call to his British counterpart David Frost, European negotiator Michel Barnier said Monday that the EU remained “available to intensify” discussions “on the basis of legal texts”, stressing to await the reaction of London.

“No basis for a resumption of negotiations”

Downing Street coldly “took note” of this proposal. “However, the UK continues to believe that there is no basis for resuming negotiations without a fundamental change in the EU’s approach,” said a spokesperson for Boris Johnson, asking 27 to treat London “as an equal” and “to accept that a movement must come from the EU as much as from the United Kingdom”.

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In the British Parliament, Minister Michael Gove, responsible for coordinating government action, was more positive. While he repeated that he was ready for an Australian or Mongolian type agreement, in other words a “no deal” whose name the British government refused to pronounce, he also “welcomed” Michel Barnier’s proposal: “Obviously, we we have to make sure we work on the basis of the intensification they are proposing, ”he said.

EU wants agreement before end of month

The two sides continue to pass the buck to each other despite the lack of time available to reach a compromise, with the Europeans deeming an agreement necessary before the end of October to be transposed and adopted by the end of the year. In the absence of a free trade agreement, the British government repeats over and over again, it would be satisfied with a “no deal” at 1er January, involving the reestablishment of quotas and customs duties between the 27 and London.

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Discussions still stumble on three subjects: access for Europeans to fish in British waters, guarantees demanded in London in terms of competition, and how to settle disputes in the future agreement. Whatever the outcome of the negotiations, agreement or not, the British executive intends to urge companies this week to accelerate their preparations to face the new customs rules which will apply from January.

“Significant” progress

Discussions with the EU to reach a compromise became tense last month with the announcement of a bill revising certain provisions of the divorce treaty that governed the UK’s exit on January 31. In London on Monday morning, European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic met with Michael Gove over the dispute, which has prompted Brussels to start infringement proceedings against the UK. Both came out on a rather positive note, with Michael Gove reporting “significant progress” while Maros Sefcovic praised the “clear direction and commitment” given by London to reach “a compromise on all questions on the table ”.

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According to Bloomberg, the British government is considering abandoning controversial provisions of a bill that would allow it to override certain measures of the treaty, in violation of international law, in order to facilitate negotiations. The bill also has many critics in the United Kingdom, for whom it undermines the credibility of the British voice on the international stage.

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Latest reviews to date, a column of the British archbishops in the Financial Times Monday underlined the “enormous” consequences “moral”, “political” and “legal” that this “disastrous precedent” would have. The text is to be considered Monday and Tuesday in the House of Lords. The test promises to be more difficult than in the House of Commons, where he cleared the first obstacles without difficulty.

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