Brexit negotiations

Is there a Brexit deal?

Tonight we are still waiting for confirmation that a Brexit deal has been done. But the noises coming out of both London and Brussels are optimistic — something would have to go wrong for there not to be a deal. However, it currently looks like there will be one more late night in Brussels before Brexit is done. The pace at which things have moved today has been surprising; I was not expecting a deal today last night. But there is now a broad expectation that an agreement will emerge tonight or tomorrow morning. The European Research Group of Tory MPs have announced that they are convening their panel of

Macron’s no-deal delusion

The Brexit waiting continues. The negotiators are still talking but, according to one of those close to the negotiations on the UK side, things are ‘still pretty stuck.’ There is, as RTE’s Tony Connelly reports, a deadline of Christmas Eve on the EU side. But it would now be a surprise if a deal came today. If these talks end in no-deal, then Johnson could not — politically — go back and accept the same or worse terms The UK offer on fish has not unblocked things as much as hoped. Michel Barnier has described it as ‘totally unacceptable’, which even accounting for diplomatic posturing is not encouraging. There is

Boris Johnson has allowed himself to be snookered by the EU

The UK-EU trade negotiations have heated up again, albeit from a very cold state. Boris seems to have conceded ground on the ‘evolution clause’ to the European Union, making a path to an agreement on the level playing field issues at least plausible. The UK has accepted that divergence should come at some cost — although the details of how that cost should be managed appear to still be a live issue. With that comes the last hurdle: fishing. Boris Johnson has allowed himself to be snookered by the EU. More than anything else I could point to, leaving fishing to the very end demonstrates the folly of Johnson’s overall

Inside the no-deal reasonable worst case scenario

I’ve been passed the government’s ‘reasonable worst case scenario planning assumptions to support civil contingencies planning for the end of the transition period’. The 34-page document describes itself as a ‘challenging manifestation of the risk in question’ but ‘not an extreme or absolute worst case scenario’. A government source confirmed the official sensitive document, which was written in September, still underpins contingency planning. It is ‘not a forecast’ but a ‘reasonable’ assessment of what could happen to us if, in the next day or so, talks collapse on a free trade agreement with the European Union and the negotiations can’t be rescued. Also, as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster

France would be foolish to veto a Brexit deal

Britain and France are heading for an almighty bust-up over Brexit. This morning the French junior minister for European affairs, Clément Beaune, specifically confirmed that if France was unhappy with the final Brexit deal — notably on fishing — it would use its veto. France would carry out ‘her own evaluation’ of the deal and act accordingly, he told radio Europe 1. Whether there is a deal or not, a blame game is about to be unleashed. Given this late stage, if there is a deal then the French cannot possibly get all they want on fishing. The French Prime Minister said so yesterday to French fishermen at France’s largest

James Forsyth

Brexit talks go down to the wire

After the past few years, it is hard to take Brexit deadlines seriously; they have a tendency to always slide to the right. But Sunday night/Monday morning really is the final deadline, as I say in the Times this morning. There are two reasons for this. First, the Internal Market Bill and the Finance Bill are in the Commons on Monday and Tuesday respectively. Both of these bills override parts of the withdrawal agreement, and in particular the Northern Ireland protocol. The EU would fiercely object, complaining the UK was breaking its obligations under international law and pointing to how the government had itself admitted it was a ‘specific and

Why Paris will fail in its bid to usurp the City

Looming behind the Frost-Barnier negotiations is a battle between London and Paris as financial centres. After the June 2016 referendum, the French failed miserably to seduce City institutions away from the UK. There was no exodus from London, and of those few relocations to the continent, most avoided Paris, preferring to scatter widely from Dublin to Frankfurt and Amsterdam.  After failing in the first instance, the French will now attempt to do so by force under the cover of the EU negotiations. The strategy of Macron and his ambitious Finance Minister, Bruno Le Maire, will be to ensure Europe does not recognise passporting for British banks, that Euro-denominated transactions are

Gove threatens to scrap Brexit talks by the summer

Michael Gove has spent the morning updating MPs on the government’s official Brexit position. Following a series of speeches in recent weeks from senior members of the government, Gove confirmed in the chamber that the UK is seeking ‘regulatory’ freedom from the EU. He said that the UK should not be subject to EU rules under a free trade agreement – but added that he believed the UK government would go further than EU rules on the environment. In a bid to win over the EU to the benefits of agreeing a free trade deal on the UK’s terms, Gove said it would allow the EU to benefit from ‘the

James Forsyth

Why those who want a Brexit deal are spoiling for a fight

The Brexit talks are heading for a breakdown. Next week’s meeting will be a stand-off between the two sides. As I say in the magazine this week, the EU will make its demands on level playing field provisions and the UK will say they are unacceptable and render the talks pointless. The government’s hope is that by saying it will walk out of the talks in June it can persuade the EU to shift from its current, maximalist position. The EU will offer carrot and stick in these talks. They’ll make clear that if the two sides agree a trade deal, they’ll go for a light touch at the border

Full text: Top UK Brexit negotiator David Frost on his plans for an EU trade deal

Boris Johnson’s top Brexit negotiator David Frost gave a major speech at ULB Brussels University on Monday evening where he set out the British government’s plans for a UK-EU trade deal. This is an edited transcript of his speech: Thank you much everyone for that very kind introduction. It is a really huge pleasure to be here at your university. I would like to say thank you also to the Institute for hosting me, and your distinguished President, Ramona Coman, for being kind enough to host me here tonight. Your institute here has really made a huge contribution to the study of European politics and European integration – and long