Volunteer Maciek Anielski outlines the state of affairs regarding Britain’s withdrawal from the EU and what is yet to be decided.
We are fast approaching the EU’s end of October trade negotiation deadline and yet there’s still plenty of ground to make up.
Brexit news for the last few weeks has been dominated by the UK’s admittance that the Internal Market Bill would ‘break international law in a specific and limited way’. The Government justified their decision, stating that it was prompted by potential bans on GB agri-food products in Northern Ireland should negotiation fail. They are worried that such a ban would threaten the integrity of the Good Friday agreement, leading to potential tensions. The EU vehemently denies the possibility of such a move.
The passing of the bill in the House of Commons has prompted legal action from the EU which could see the UK pay compensation, increasing Britain’s already large exit bill.
British lorry drivers could also face legal action for failing to have the correct paperwork while driving through Kent after Michael Gove’s ‘reasonable worst-case scenario’ predicted 7,000-trucks-long queues in the case of a no deal Brexit.
The report predicted that just half of big businesses and 20% of small business would be adequately prepared for new border rules, which would mean that between 30% and 60% of lorry’s would arrive at the border with the right paperwork completed.
The situation has been made worse by COVID-19 which has dominated the attention of businesses dealing with falling demand and new restrictions introduced by the Government. Many see COVID-19 as the more pressing short term issue, leaving Brexit preparations falling behind schedule.
It’s not only businesses struggling to meet Brexit deadlines.
With less than a month before trade negotiations must be completed, there are still plenty of issues left unresolved; with fishing rights, competition regulations and governance of any eventual agreement remaining the main sticking points.
“On fisheries the gap between us is unfortunately very large and, without further realism and flexibility from the EU risks being impossible to bridge.”
David Frost – UK Chief Negotiator
A recent development in negotiations has seen France threaten a no-deal scenario after the UK’s failure to compromise over its control over fishing waters.
Annick Girardin, the French fishing minister, described British proposals as ‘unacceptable’, claiming that ‘Fishermen would rather have no agreement than a bad agreement’.
“We are preparing for all eventualities, and therefore also for a no-deal.”
The statement opens up the possibility that President Macron could threaten to block EU negotiations with the UK at the next summit.
The Government is also yet to compromise on competition regulations (also known as the level playing field) which would prevent the UK from engaging in subsidy programs, propping up British exports artificially, a topic that is important to EU members.
As time goes on and the deadline draws near, both sides are likely to engage in increasingly aggressive negotiating tactics. It is too early to make a statement regarding the likelihood of a no deal, however what can confidently be asserted is that negotiations will be fierce and if a deal is agreed upon, it will likely be a last minute arrangement.
Most businesses are holding out hope that a deal is reached, with few ready to face the consequences a no deal scenario. If that doesn’t change soon, we may be waking up on New Year’s Day with one hell of a Hangover.
Header by Frankie Stevens – Head of Design
Article edited by Connor Wade – Label Political Editor