Brexit’s back. The British have now left the European Union, but the two sides are still arguing about their future relationship. We’re running out of time and the news is piling up fast, so we’ll catch you up on what happened this week.
This week, both forces continued to progress steadily in the debilitating negotiations. On Friday, EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier announced that a deal is currently being worked hard, but there is still a lot of work to be done.
After a week of intensive talks in London, the talks between Barnier and his British colleague David Frost continue in Brussels. Although steps have been taken in the right direction, several outcomes are still possible. And with two months to go, we’re running out of time.
It looks like there are three more scenarios possible. The first scenario is a deal-Brexit, where the EU internal market remains open to the British, and the UK market remains open to the member states. However, there will be much less cooperation in many areas such as regulation, security and defence.
The second scenario is the much discussed no-deal Brexit. In such a case, the UK would leave the EU without a trade agreement and trade would henceforth be conducted according to an ‘Australian model’. The EU does not currently have a free trade agreement with Australia, but there are small agreements on specific issues.
The third scenario is, according to the initiates, a partial deal. This option will certainly become relevant when time is running out and the power blocs want to reach an agreement at the last minute. The parties will then be able to make temporary agreements on points on which they agree, without these possibly being ratified by the EU.
This would, in practice, mean that there would still be a number of issues to be negotiated in 2021, In which case the new trade rules which the UK intends to apply will become important. Less stringent food safety requirements would make trade with the EU more difficult, while a trade agreement with the US could benefit.
The US presidential elections, which take place on Tuesday, May also be a determining factor in the ongoing Brexit negotiations. Prime minister Boris Johnson is very suspicious of the outcome of November 3. In September, presidential candidate Joe Biden stated that he was not a fan of Johnson’s Brexit law, which could undermine parts of the withdrawal agreement. Biden sees nothing in a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland and thinks that the British should simply stick to the agreements previously made with the EU.
This could potentially have a negative impact on a new trade agreement between the US and the UK. Many members of the British House of Lords, who will be considering Johnson’s Brexit law next month, may vote massively against the controversial clauses in the British Prime Minister’s proposal in the event of a Democratic victory.
However, if the current President Donald Trump wins the presidential election, Johnson would feel strengthened to go for a no deal Brexit. The American president is in favour of Brexit and would like to see a renewed trade agreement with London as soon as possible. The winner of the American presidential election may therefore be a harbinger of the Brexit scenario that will emerge at the end of this year.