Wednesday, 28 October, 2020

"Brexit talks are over" - Johnson

PM aviation The Prime Minister has signalled that mini-deals with the EU could be possible to keep aviation flowing in a no-deal situation
Ginger Lawrence | 17 October, 2020, 03:25

After Johnson's bid to undercut the 2020 Brexit divorce treaty, there are fears that London is employing what one European diplomat said was Madman Theory - a reference to former U.S. President Richard Nixon's attempt to convince Moscow that he was irrational during the Cold War in the 1970s. "That can't be right in negotiations", he told Sky News television.

The pair, however, pledged to speak "early next week" in an indication that hopes of talks continuing have not been entirely extinguished, despite Downing Street telling reporters the negotiations were now "over".

The prime minister is due to make a statement on the future path of Brexit negotiations later today, according to the UK's chief Brexit negotiator Lord David Frost.

"There is some apprehension over a possible decision later today by prime minister Boris Johnson that could see him call time on any further discussions on account of perceived foot dragging on the part of European Union officials", said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets.

"There was accordingly no basis for negotiations in London as of Monday".

The official statement offers little to Johnson, dropping the line in an earlier draft that called for Barnier to "intensify" his discussions with Frost.

"EU wants United Kingdom fisheries to be under their rules".

Mr Johnson said "now is the time for our businesses, hauliers and travellers to get ready", however he remained willing to do mini-deals on areas where progress had been made, including on social security coordination, or aviation, road haulage and nuclear cooperation.

In his broadcast statement, the Prime Minister said it was clear from the gathering in the Belgian capital the European Union was not prepared to offer Britain the kind of Canada-style free trade agreement it was seeking.

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They are seeking an agreement to govern their trading relationship once the UK's post-Brexit transition period ends in December.

The Prime Minister went on to make similar comments at a Number 10 press conference when asked to explain his stance.

"That was pretty clear from the conclusions of the summit. It can either fundamentally change position or we will leave on Australian terms, under which we will prosper", Johnson's spokesman said.

However, industry reacted with alarm, warning of the damage to an economy already stricken by coronavirus if there was no deal by the end of the year.

"Neither side can afford to fall at the final fence. A deal is the only outcome that protects Covid-hit livelihoods at a time when every job in every country counts", she said.

Speaking at the end of the summit in Brussels, European Council president Charles Michel said the EU was ready to carry on with negotiations.

All sides have acknowledged that the question of future fishing rights once the current Brexit transition period ends remains among the most hard issues to be resolved.

And since we have only ten weeks until the end of the transition period on January 1, I have to make a judgment about the likely outcome and to get us all ready.

"I want to be clear - this deal will not be made at any price", he said before he entered the meeting.