UK Prepares For EU Brexit Deal Negotiations: Legally Separate and Will Walk Away if Necessary

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits homeless charity The Connection At St Martin's in London on February 27, 2020. - Located in central London the centre provides immediate relief and support for the homeless and long-term support leading to housing, work and independence. (Photo by Tim CLARKE / POOL / …
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The British government has published its positions for the post-Brexit trade negotiations due to begin with the European Union next week, placing itself on a clearly divergent path from Brussels on the kind of deal envisioned, and the terms it might be struck under.

The full extent of the gulf between expectations from the British and European negotiating teams emerged Thursday when the British counterpart to the European negotiating principles document was published. The divergences are visible in several clear areas, from the British government looking for a Canadian type straightforward trade deal, for Britain to not be tied into European Union laws in perpetuity, and for the decision to be made quickly, all of which Brussels claims is impossible.

Speaking in the House of Commons to introduce the document officially Thursday morning, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove — in reality the government minister overseeing Brexit negotiations — said the United Kingdom would not be accepting EU laws in future. He dismissed several of the EU’s key talking points and told the house: “We don’t need the EU’s permission to be a liberal nation leading the world… to be clear, we will not be seeking to dynamically align with EU rules, on EU terms, government by EU laws, and EU institutions.”

Perhaps the most important revelation Thursday is the thinly veiled threat that the British negotiators willing to walk away from the table as early as June if discussions on a future deal aren’t progressing with sufficient haste (page four). In that case, the document states, the United Kingdom’s full attention would then pivot to preparing the nation to leave the European Union fully and without a deal on December 31st 2020.

While the British government has repeatedly made clear it would rather leave with a deal at the end of this year, the new Boris Johnson government has also clearly asserted it would be happy to do so without, a clear divergence from the previous administration. This gives British negotiators a strengthened negotiating hand, especially in the light of claims that the European Union now has significantly more to lose from a no-deal situation than the British do.

Veteran Brexiteer and former Brexit secretary David Davis made this point Wednesday. Breitbart London reported his summation of the situation as: “if it comes down to it and we have no deal at all, then so be it.

“It won’t hurt us anything like it will hurt them. We’ll have more money to deal with, and we’ll have other options to go to — other trade deals with the rest of the world. The European Union has no upsides in this, we do have an upside. The negotiating leverage is all one way, now.”

This doesn’t necessarily mean the United Kingdom will leave without a deal, however. As Mr Davis noted, the European Union has already moved significantly on other areas it insisted were non-negotiable, and it has already cut several trade deals with other nations around the world with exactly the qualities the United Kingdom now wishes to see in its own deal, proving it is possible.

The European Union, for its part, has insisted these deals wouldn’t be replicated in Britain’s case because the United Kingdom is much closer to European shores than, say, Canada, and is a significant trading partner. But Mr Gove rubbished those points Thursday, telling Parliament: “the volume of UK trade with the EU is no greater than U.S. trade with the EU, and the EU was more than willing to offer zero-tarrif access to the U.S. without the application of EU procedures to U.S. standards-setting.

“The EU has also argued that the UK is a unique case owing to its geographical location. But proximity is not a determining factor in any other FTA between other neighbouring states with large economies. It is not a reason for us to accept EU rules and regulations… geography is no reason to undermine democracy.”

Making clear that progress would be made this year one way or another, Gove said Brussels negotiators should “be in no doubt – at the end of the transition period, on December 31, the United Kingdom will fully recover its economic and political independence.”


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