Report: UK Close to Abandoning Brexit-EU Deal, Will Likely Leave Bloc Fully in December

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (not in picture) sit in socially distanced chairs in the garden of 10 Downing street in central London on July 21, 2020. (Photo by HANNAH MCKAY / POOL / AFP) (Photo by HANNAH MCKAY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
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The United Kingdom may properly depart the European Union on December 31st, as voted for by the British people way back in 2016, as negotiations to sign a deal that would see the nation keep links to Brussels in the future falters, a British newspaper has claimed.

While Britain and the EU are presently in talks to achieve an agreement on a future relationship between the two parties, progress appears to have stalled as Brussels remains wedded to an ideal that would keep Britain tied to the block — and under its control — in several areas. Likewise, the British team is keeping up the pressure on achiving a much loser relationship where London and Brussels remain close friends, but British interests are not controlled by Europe.

Now a report in British broadsheet The Daily Telegraph — probably the closest UK newspaper to the government in terms of access to senior figures — cites unnamed ministers who it claims believe the deal will not be signed at all. If that were to come to pass, the United Kingdom would leave the European Union fully and without condition on December 31st 2020, trading with the bloc on standard World Trade Organisation rules.

The concept of such a withdrawal — despite businesses and nations having had four and a half years to prepare for it — is a matter of horror to the considerable number of anti-Brexit politicians in the United Kingdom, and the European Union, which is totally opposed to losing control of Britain’s market and regulations, fishing waters, and legal system. Nevertheless, it has long been cited as the ideal outcome by top Brexiteers like Nigel Farage, who on the fourth anniversary of the referendum warned of a “Brexit in name only” where “We’d still be in the EU rulebook, we’d be hampered doing trade with the rest of the world, we would not be genuinely an independent sovereign state.”

In cheering news for Brexiteers, then, the Telegraph’s report noted the going assumption between leaders in Westminster is now that “there won’t be a deal”.

The report cites a looming “deadline” for talks, although there are several of those approaching, and many more that have already passed. June 30th was a deadline to extend talks and the transition period beyond the end of the year, but that passed almost wholly without comment, not least because EU negotiators made clear in their desire to make sure a deal to keep London close to Brussels, they would ignore it and agree an extension later if requested.

Downing Street has also spoken of deadlines to get the deal signed off in late summer, giving time to get whatever such an agreement specifies ready and businesses prepared for December 31st. A vague “end of summer” deadline was mooted in June, with “intensified” talks and running up to the final round starting on July 27th. By late June, the “end of September” was being floated as the absolute limit for talks by the Prime Minister, who was “very clear” that “talks can’t go on into the autumn.”

These are all later than earlier aspirations to have talks concluded one way or another by the end of July.

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