by Keith Zahra
EU-UK tensions escalate as Brexit deadline looms
Over the past two weeks, since the resumption of negotiations between the European Union and the United Kingdom on a Brexit deal, little progress has been achieved, with both sides making public recriminations about the intransigence of the other party.
The negotiations have taken a turn to the worse over the past few days, with Boris Johnson placing a deadline of no more than five weeks (15th October) to strike a free-trade deal with the European Union.
Failure to do so, Johnson is insisting, the two sides should stop trying and “move on”, clearly implying a no-deal Brexit. The Prime Minister re-iterated again that Britain’s relationship with the EU can be based on that of Australia, where specific agreements are individually negotiated on specific aspects. Under such a scenario, Britain will first push for agreements on the most practical day-to-day issues such as flights, haulage, and scientific cooperation.
While UK Brexit negotiator David Frost said that Britain was not scared of a no-deal exit at the end of the year, Johnson did however leave a glimmer of hope, suggesting there is still room for a deal to be reached, based on a standard free trade agreement if the EU is ready to rethink its current position. Among the areas which are sowing most division between two sides, is the EU’s insistence that Britain observes European internal market standards as well as Brussels’ desire to protect European fishermen’s rights to fish in British waters.
However, a Financial Times story raised more concerns than these political statements which came out of London. The business paper revealed that the British government is planning legislation that will override key parts of the Brexit withdrawal agreement, risking not only the collapse of trade negotiations with Brussels, but, according to diplomatic experts that we have contacted on the matter, may even go against basic principles of international law.
These plans also led to the resignation of the head of the British government’s legal department.