The UK will table a draft legal text for a UK / EU free trade agreement before the next round of trade negotiations, which start on the 18 March. This is a significant step by the UK.
In the first round of the Brexit talks, the UK left itself vulnerable by barely submitting any legal text – leaving it to work off the EU’s drafts. This was a major mistake. The fact that it was the EU who turned the December 2017 Joint Report into legal text gave it a structural edge in the negotiations.
It will be fascinating to see the UK’s joint legal text. One of the UK’s main arguments in the negotiations so far is that it isn’t asking for anything the EU hasn’t agreed to before. Some in government are attracted to the idea of a draft legal text that simply cuts and pastes from the EU’s agreements with Canada, Japan and South Korea among others to dramatise this point.