Britain’s de-facto Brexit chief has implored the European Union to show “flexibility” to sign a trade deal in the coming days, an ambition the UK remains “determined to secure”, in comments on Thursday.
Speaking to Britain’s Parliament, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove — a traditional British state title allowing the Brexit coordinator to attend Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government cabinet without having a formal brief — insisted the nation was still gunning to sign a Brexit deal in the dying days of negotiations, but that Europe had to make an effort.
Remarking that Britain was “determined to secure a deal” despite the “remaining gaps in the negotiations”, Gove said Britain had already made moves to accommodate Europe but implied that so far the continental power bloc had declined to reciprocate. He said: “The UK has already shown a great degree of flexibility in these negotiations, but it’s important also that the European Union shows flexibility too”, reports Reuters.
One Week to Agree a Deal? Brexit Talks go to the Wire https://t.co/Rlr3GpcGyS
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Gove’s comments were bolstered by British Chancellor Rishi Sunak who echoed other remarks from earlier in the week when he said that “Both sides need to be constructive – that’s happening – you know there is a deal to be done that requires that good will and cooperation. And I know people are working very hard at it.” Breitbart London had reported Monday when Boris Johnson said of attempts to sign a deal: “I think it’s there to be done, the broad outlines are pretty clear… We just need to get them to do it if we can.”
A key difficulty remains for British negotiators, that while both sides want to sign a trade deal to keep goods moving at the end of 2020, expectations of what this deal involves vary wildly. Britain needs a stripped-down trade deal like the one the European Union recently signed with Canada to be able to move forward in the post-Brexit world, and to satisfy vocal Brexiteers who point out that anything less would be a betrayal of the 2016 referendum.
Brussels, on the other hands, wants to keep Britain tied as closely to the bloc as possible in several key areas, particularly in terms of Britain continuing to obey European Union reules, fall under European Union courts, and leave its natural resources — in this case, Britain’s bountiful territorial fishing waters — open to EU state use. Comments by Europe’s top negotiator Michel Barnier earlier this week betrayed that these points still remained central for the EU, suggesting that unless the UK was willing to surrender to Brussels, no deal would be possible.
Britain, for its part, argues that to agree to being tethered to Europe’s rules for the fguture means the country won’t be able to innovate or find “policy space” to “decide what is in the UK’s interest in the future.”
Barnier Claims UK and EU Have ‘Huge Common Responsibility’ to Stop Full Brexit https://t.co/0xJuuLja1c
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) October 23, 2020
The clock is also running down. While Britain won’t leave the so-called transition period until the end of this year, the European Union has clearly signalled that it expects a deal in principle by late next week, the date of the next EU leader’s summit. Despite the announcement of the date, several other such Brexit deadlines have come and gone in the past with no apparent impact on the real world.
That the United Kingdom may yet leave Europe without any deal at all at the end of the year was cited as possible by Ireland’s foreign minister Simon Coveney on Wednesday when he said talks were at risk of falling apart. The Telegraph reported his remarks on the fact Britain and the EU couldn’t reach an agreement on the UK continuing to be subject to EU rules indefinitely — what Brussels calls “level playing field” guarantees — as: “I think it is quite possible this could fall apart and we don’t get a deal. That wouldn’t shock me at all.”
“I think this week and next week are crucial. If we don’t have a deal at some point next week, we have real problems.”
Farage: Brexit Party ‘Prepared to Restart Fight’ If Boris Agrees on Soft-Brexit EU Treaty https://t.co/g7OJjMLXGf
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) October 21, 2020