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POKER FACE

By Pete Moore On October 16th, 2020

Talks between the UK and EU over a post-Brexit trade agreement are “over”, Downing Street has said.

No 10 said there was “no point” in discussions continuing next week unless the EU was prepared to discuss the detailed legal text of a partnership.

These farcical negotiations have reached an impasse. The UK wants a “Canada-style” agreement. The EU wants the UK to pretend that it is not a sovereign nation and never left the EU. The EU insists that EU law remain sovereign on matters relating to UK/EU affairs, that it retains full access to our fisheries as per the current arrangements, and that the UK follow EU state aid rules. I know, what are they smoking in Brussels?

Alas, Boris has not formally ended negotiations. He still wants a deal and Michel Barnier is due in London next week. It’s just that both sides refuse to budge from where they are. In my opinion the UK has done more than enough budging already. I was always of the view that any deal acceptable to the EU is bound to be unacceptable to anyone sane anyway. That’s more than clear.

I think there will be a deal. Both sides will compromise a bit, then a bit more, then a bit more then each side will claim victory. It’s insane. We should unplug the phones tonight and allow the EU access to the Great British Market on WTO terms. That’s what we should do, but the first rule of Politics is Never Trust the Tories for good reason.

12 Responses to “POKER FACE”

  1. This is almost certainly one of two things.

    1. A deliberate act of tough showmanship by both sides for their own domestic purposes with both sides knowing they will do a deal.

    2. The deliberate no deal that Cummings and the ‘Get Brexit Done’ brigade always intended , regardless of what was offered, for fake populist ‘whip up anti EU fervor’ purposes.

  2. It’s almost certainly 1. 2 could have been done on 1st February.

  3. The UK don’t want a ‘Canada’ style deal, not least because it doesn’t have access for services, particularly financial services. So the UK want more access than Canada. They want the market access they currently enjoy due to EU Single Market membership without following the rules of EU Single Market membership.

    “2 could have been done on 1st February.”

    Or 2, but where they try to blame the EU for the impasse so that when the resulting economic fallout hurts the UK economy then it isn’t the Boris bros fault.

  4. Yes, and if and when British busineses and workers suffer due to us foolishly leaving the worlds biggest and most succesful free single market they will spur them on to blame Brussells or the poles at the end of the street..

  5. I think there will be a deal.

    No Pete, a deal was always unlikely given the vast gulf on fisheries and state aid.

    Tonight Macron has all but confirned that the French EU will not budge on fisheries and demanded that the Cummings government gives him all he wants. When the talks collapse next week the UK should announce a 12 month moratorium on all EU trawlers in British waters from 1 January. If tempers cool during 2021 then talks could resume at some point, but don’t undersestimate the bad-will on both sides if it’s a no-deal. It’s quite possible that UK-EU relations could go into deep freeze for several years. That would delight the Little England Tories.

    The UK economy will be hit hard by tariffs. Car-makers will face at least 10% and huge logistical challenges. Some will pack up and leave (hello Nissan). Sheep farmers will face 40% on 1 January, which should put their lights out in no time at all. It’s an ill wind…

  6. Peter –

    Tonight Macron has all but confirned that the French EU will not budge on fisheries and demanded that the Cummings government gives him all he wants.

    Great! There’s hope yet, for us and Macron.

    Little Manny is facing two challenges. One is the presidential election in 2022, the other is getting a stiffy for his nan-wife. Acting tough on our cod is how gets the blood pumping for both.

  7. “If tempers cool during 2021 then talks could resume at some point, but don’t undersestimate the bad-will on both sides if it’s a no-deal.”

    Depends on what happens with the Northern Ireland protocol. If the UK renege on their previous promises then there will likely be no negotiations possible.

  8. “Little Manny is facing two challenges. One is the presidential election in 2022, the other is getting a stiffy for his nan-wife. Acting tough on our cod is how gets the blood pumping for both.”

    Macron doesn’t really have much of a challenge with the 2022 presidential election. For all his issues there simply isn’t a viable alternative to him.

  9. “Why am I convinced no deal is so likely? Firstly, the EU’s position in all of this continues to be misunderstood by many in Britain. While the EU would clearly prefer to have a deal with a post-Brexit Britain, there are clear red lines they have never been willing to cross. Given that Boris has always made it clear that he intends to cross those red lines, it seems only logical that no deal is the likely end result…

    Even now, after Boris’ fiery speech, plenty of people still insist there will be a deal reached before the end of the year. That this is all posturing by Boris, as well as a lot of grandstanding from the EU in response. The reality of no deal will soon set in and bring with it the need to compromise soon enough. But this raises a question: how does Boris make any concessions after what he’s said today? He’s given the Leavers what they wanted in saying the EU has been unreasonable. And, just as he said he would, he’s now going to walk away until they agree to his terms. Given the EU is unlikely to back down sufficiently to allow Boris to claim victory, I don’t see how this gets us to anything other than no deal. Even if Boris meant today as a bluff, he’s made no deal much more likely…”

    https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/boris-isn-t-bluffing-about-a-no-deal-brexit?utm_medium=email&utm_source=CampaignMonitor_Editorial&utm_campaign=BLND%20%2020201016%20%20Ericsson%20%20SM+CID_8387a55e12a36ead0f1853c8aa1cbc2f

  10. Never trust the Tories

    Damned right.

    My guess this is a ruse for the UK Government to get over the line an unpalatable deal yet still maintain some face. There is no reason not to offer EU fisherman licenses upon us Leaving. They could be on favourable terms but, it seems, the EU fisherman do not want to pay for such things and keeps their profits rolling in. Post TRUE BREXIT they will have to learn that our fish is no longer free as it once was.

    Macron is in a bind. He cannot walk away himself as he knows that means no deal and WTO, where EU fisherman get nothing. He cannot easily sell a half loaf / baguette option as he knows that will not go down well either, so he sticks to his guns hoping that we will back down. Trouble is, fishing is the litmus test for us Leavers and both Johnson and Macron cannot easily deal with it.

    The only way out I see is for the French to accept licenses and reduced quotas or Sir David Frost’s overly generous offer. My guess the French will back down.

  11. There was a fairly astute comment on this over at Slugger:

    It seems to me they have made their bed with a No Deal from day one. Ever since, while perhaps hopeful for a deal, the real effort has been on media framing. How do we come out of this looking good, and the EU looking bad.

    There isn’t any form of Brexit Deal that will replicate the untold benefits of EU membership. Squaring with that reality with all that it entails, accepting that painful bullets would have to be bitten, the UK Lion being seen to have been tamed, was always going to be the issue from the referendum debate on. In practical terms, this means you can’t have full single market access without accepting the rules they others have to abide by to enjoy it. Or having UK continued representation in EU programs, from satellites, to data protection, to crime and arrest warrants. Whatever way you cut it up, the UK was going to have to accept losing out substantially on almost everything.

    The only form of Brexit that might make sense is No Deal. As painful as it will be for the masses of people who voted to leave, it leaves the UK free in some ways to set its rules, markets and trade structure any way it wants. A lot of people, the usual ones who have backed this all along, will see this as the money making opportunity of a lifetime. And many of those they got to vote for it will be their victims for it. The UK has to accept what this means too, eventually, but that will be then. A defiant PM, the UK Lion standing untamed, is an easy sell for this government, and their only way out all long.

    That’s a fairly good analysis. However, once the British tabloid media is taken out of it:

    https://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/uk/brussels-confident-post-brexit-trade-deal-is-increasingly-likely-1.4383290

    The UK should announce a 12 month moratorium on all EU trawlers in British waters from 1 January.

    That’s not possible as per this:

    https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/269708/Fisheries_Conv_March-April_1964.pdf

  12. Paul

    The Cummings governent will simply repeal that 1964 fisheries legislation. It has already demonstrated its willingness to break international treaties when it thinks it needs to.

    Otherwise, your 11.37 AM is on the money. But it omits that the economic destruction caused by the pandemic will help to disguise the destruction caused by a no-deal Brexit. Trade with the EU in both directions is already down significantly this year, so the 2020 baseline will be lower when it comes to be compared with 2021. They won’t be keen on comparing 2021 with 2019, that’s for sure.

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