Last night the Brexit negotiators called a halt to the talks and issued a statement saying they could find no common ground on the critical issues.
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Brexit talks stalled and going nowhere!
As I said in a short update video last night, the two Brexit negotiators, the EU’s Michel Barnier and the UK’s Lord David Frost, decided that the best option right now was to pause the talks and pass the problem upstairs to Ursula von der Leyen and Boris Johnson.
And the two of them are due to get on the blower sometime later today and have a chinwag to try and find a way ahead.
So, by the time I get this video published, or you get to see it, a decision may already have been made.
But I would first like to make the point, that the final call on Brexit could potentially be made this afternoon or evening.
And it comes after all the wrangling and all the huffing and puffing of EU27 member state leaders.
But the final call could be made in a conflab between, on the one hand, an elected UK MP as head of an elected UK government, and on the other an unelected Eurocrat as the head of an unelected EU Commission. Go figure.
Boris Johnson has not, of course, been elected by the whole country, but he was voted in as an MP of one of the 650 constituencies. And he was selected by the winning party to become their leader and therefore PM of the country.
That UK system will have its detractors, but contrast it with the position of EU Commission President. Ursula von der Leyen was not elected into her position by any of the people. And further, after lots of backroom dealing in the EU Council, her name was the only one put forward for the EU Parliament to vote on.
Anyway, you get my drift and how appropriate and constitutionally significant that one point is.
So, what went wrong?
Well, basically the two negotiators were handed a mandate to build a 1,000 piece trade deal jigsaw. Barnier got his pieces from the EU Council via the EU Commission, and Frost got his pieces from the UK government.
And the trouble was that Frost brought along his one thousand piece jigsaw puzzle from the Churchill outside Westminster collection, and Barnier got his from views of the EU Council building collection.
And each side saw their 1,000 pieces as the solution. But when they even started trying to compromise the pieces, nothing of course fitted.
In hindsight, and possibly in some peoples’ foresight, this was an inevitability.
Now, the last time we got to this point, there was still a bit of time available to keep ploughing on, And so von der Layen and Johnson ordered their negotiators to ‘try harder’. So Barnier and Frost probably shrugged and trudged on over the same old ground.
But this time, if Boris and Ursula say, try harder again, then I suspect Barnier and Frost are more likely to do this ….. followed by a bit of minor physical damage.
So, no. ‘Try harder’ as an instruction will not cut any mustard.
The only way is either a no-deal outcome or for one or both sides to compromise on their so-far solidly held red lines.
As I said in my short video last night, these talks have totally collapsed. The negotiators have no more stones that have not been turned many times over. It would need major changes in the negotiating mandates for Barnier and/or Frost. That means compromise.
And the real problem here for the UK is that compromising on the three so far problematic red-lines would end up compromising the UK as an independent sovereign nation.
Compromise would mean giving the EU fishing community whole swathes of fish stock quotas in perpetuity, or for at least decades. And good luck in ever getting back control of our exclusive economic zone.
Compromise would mean signing up to EU control over our state aid rules. So every time we wanted to save or help a UK business, Brussels would get to say yes or no.
Compromise would mean allowing the EU and their ECJ to decide if and when the UK breaks any new trade deal rules and how to punish us for doing it.
Compromise on any of these is a compromise too far.
It is now time for the UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, to show us the steel, refuse to compromise on those red lines and agree with Ursula von der Leyen that it is time to end this now fast becoming charade and part on WTO terms.
Let’s see what transpires.
4k. 4k video.