Differing expectations of what a future trade deal should look like will leave the UK and EU ripping each other apart at the negotiating table, a suggestion the British government has denied as overcomplicating matters.
French foreign minister and close ally to President Emmanuel Macron, Jean-Yves Le Drian, said on Sunday that “everyone is going to defend their interests” in the coming trade negotiations, but clearly signalled that the national interests of the different parties would lead to fractious negotiations.
The statesman said: “I think that on trade issues or on the measures for our future relationship that we are going to discuss, we are going to start on, we are going to rip each other apart.
“But that is part of the negotiation. Everyone is going to defend their interests.”
Delingpole: I’m Right – Brexit On WTO Terms Is Going to Be Just Great for Britain https://t.co/gjsFkf7Ui3
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) January 27, 2019
While the United Kingdom technically departed the European Union at the end of January 2020, it continues to trade as a full member of the Union and follow the bloc’s rules for as long as it remains in the so-called transition period. This means in practice, it is unlikely Britain will actually become an independent nation until the end of December 2020, although there is a mechanism to extend the period even further.
European leaders want to keep the United Kingdom tied as closely as possible to the European Union, forcing it to accept the continuing supremacy of EU rules in return for maintaining the status quo on cross-border trade, or something close to it. The problem faced by the British government is continuing to accept EU rules in return for trade means Britain will never really leave the European Union.
Nonetheless, while the French government predicts calamity the UK insists cutting a deal need not be that complicated, and should resemble ones already struck by the EU with other nations like Canada. A spokesman for the Prime Minister said: “Our approach is clear – we are not asking for anything special, bespoke or unique, but are looking for a deal like those the EU has struck previously with other friendly countries like Canada.
“We want a relationship based on friendly cooperation between sovereign equals, one centred on free trade and inspired by our shared history and values.”
Brexit ‘Can’t Be Delivered’, Leave Vote Was ‘Manipulated’, Macron Tells France https://t.co/h7XDCmlKuJ
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) January 26, 2019
The European Union’s approach to trade negotiations so far has been heavily focussed on attempting to hold Britain hostage on trade demands. As Breitbart London reported this month, one of the contested areas is fishing rights, in Nigel Farage’s words an “acid test” of whether Brexit has successfully passed.
Yet the EU’s top negotiator Michel Barnier has insisted the UK must continue to surrender its rights to control fishing in its own territorial waters in return for a trade deal.
If the United Kingdom and the European Union fail to conclude a deal in 2020, two paths will be open to them — either extending the transition period, or ending it, meaning the two would trade on World Trade Organization rules.