The ‘Landing Zone’ in Sight? Boris Promises Brexit ‘Full Control’ From January First

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, wearing a face covering due to the COVID-19 p
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Britain will regain “full control” over its money and laws from January first 2021, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has promised, as discussion intensifies over whether a “landing zone” for Brexit deal talks is yet possible.

Discussion in Britain’s mostly abandoned and strictly socially distanced Parliamentary chamber took an unusual turn away from Coronavirus Wednesday afternoon, as Boris Johnson was asked to confirm “categorically” that Britain would be completing Brexit at the end of the year, as ordered by the British people in 2016.

The Prime Minister said he wanted to reassure his parliamentary colleague, veteran Tory David Amess that: “…this country has not only left the European Union but on January 1 we will take back full control of our money, our borders and our laws.”

Yet the government continues to negotiate with the European Union in the hope of achieving a post-Brexit trade deal, an outcome strongly desired by the EU leadership itself and by the British political establishment as a second-best outcome to preventing the UK leaving the bloc at all. Yet with a number of key areas — chief among them the future management of fishing waters — serious disagreements remain, as both sides have approached the negotiating table with considerably different ambitions.

As reported by wires service Reuters Wednesday, the Irish government — a reliable ally of Brussels over the course of the Brexit process — said the metaphorical “landing zone” was “hard to envision” due to difficult negotiations over fishing. Ireland’s Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said: “This is a big obstacle and I don’t think the British government should underestimate the strength of feeling on fishing of many of the Atlantic member states.”

The landing zone metaphor for the Brexit trade deal talks appears to be one with a lot of present currency in Brussels. Britain’s chief Brexit negotiator David Frost was reported as using the exact same phrase on Wednesday, this time talking up the possibility of a deal coming soon. He said in remarks to a UK parliamentary committee: “In many areas the landing zone and the nature of the agreements is pretty clear, if not exactly pinned down yet… What needs to happen between now and then is that we need to make progress, primarily in the areas where there are big gaps.”

Boris Johnson’s cabinet minister responsible for Brexit, Michael Gove, also hit a more positive note in comments to the committee, also on Wednesday, saying he had “steady optimism”.

Despite the happy talk from Westminster, Bloomberg reports a growing sense of oneupmanship between the two sides as talks fail to progress. While Boris Johnson is reported to be privately preparing to walk away from the negotiating table as soon as next week, the European Union believes he won’t follow through on these threats and that talks could run as late as December.

This certainly wouldn’t be out of character for European Union talks, which can typically go to the wire.

The United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union in 2016, but years of political delays in Westminster as the nation’s politicians struggled to come to terms with the British people giving the wrong answer in that vote followed by talks, extensions, and withdrawal periods meant the nation only officially left the Union in 2020, and won’t fully withdraw until the end of the year.


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