James Forsyth

There’s a Brexit deal to be done on security

There's a Brexit deal to be done on security
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Theresa May was pushing at an open door in her Munich speech when she warned against ‘rigid institutional restrictions’ harming security cooperation after Brexit, I say in The Sun today. Member states are reluctant to follow the Commission’s tough line on this as they know how valuable the UK’s contribution in this field is.

I understand that when the Commission told the 27 that the UK would have to be treated like other third countries on security after Brexit, several member states pushed back. They argued that it must be possible to find sensible compromises.

Security is where it is most clearly in the interests of EU member states to find an accommodation with the UK in these negotiations. But this week has also shown that the member states are prepared to push back when they fear that the Commission is in danger of collapsing the Brexit talks; look at how the so-called ‘punishment clause’ has ended up being softened.

I understand that the UK will soon come up with a proposal on services that builds on what the Commission put forward during the EU/US trade negotiations. But the UK’s delay in putting them forward means that valuable time has been wasted. The European Council next month will set the negotiating mandate for the trade talks, so the government has left itself only a few weeks to build support for its way of thinking.

The lack of time also means that it is imperative that Thursday’s eight-hour meeting of the Brexit inner Cabinet breaks the logjam. The UK needs to know what it is negotiating position is as soon as possible so that it can start trying to build support for it in EU capitals.