While the media tussles with how hard the country should lockdown, Brexit grinds on to its now no-deal inevitability.
Looking at the news today, you would think that Brexit did not exist.
I also wonder if Brexit will feature in PMQs at lunchtime today, given the milestone being reached.
And while pundits worry that the country hasn’t been locked down hard enough to beat the pandemic, we are on the cusp of true freedom from the clutches of the European Union.
Despite what is being reported as a final few days of intense negotiations to break the deadlock, we all now know that the two sides are as far apart as ever.
Brussels will never allow a deal with the UK that lets us run our own affairs. Brussels will always look to have the final legal lever with which to derail our plans for independent prosperity. Brussels will never allow a deal which did not include robbing us of our fish. Brussels will always pursue the final Brexit cost to the UK of losing Northern Ireland.
None of this is acceptable to the post-Brexit UK and nor should it be.
Now, the whole idea had been that to get a deal in place by the end of the year, it should have been ready for presentation to the EU Council leaders tomorrow. Then it could progress through the EU bureaucracy and EU Parliament in time for ratification before the 31st of December.
But that will not now happen.
But despite that, Anglea Merkel has just called on her fellow EU leaders to show some realism in the negotiations.
Talking to a meeting of EU mayors she said that Ireland urgently needed a deal to emerge from the talks and that:
“We are going to continue to stand together in these withdrawal talks. But we also have to take into account the reality: an agreement has to be in the interests of both parties, in British interests as well as the interests of the 27-member EU.”
But this is all probably too late given that some, like President Macron of France, have been pressing the EU chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, to stand firm and stick to the plan of punishing and controlling the UK.
One UK government source is quoted in the press as saying:
“The EU have been using the old playbook in which they thought running down the clock would work against the UK. All these tactics have achieved is to get us to the middle of October with lots of work left undone. This is all the more frustrating because we have come a long way since the beginning of the year.”
And the Boris Johnson told the UK cabinet yesterday that we should not fear leaving the implementation period on a no-deal Brexit basis.
With the PM’s spokesman saying after the cabinet meeting that:
“The PM said Lord Frost is currently in Brussels seeking to find a way through, and he believed there is still a deal to be done.
“The PM reiterated that, while we want a deal on the right terms, if we can’t get there we are ready and willing to move forward with an Australian-style outcome, which holds no fear.”
And it’s further reported that Boris will have a video conference with the EU Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen later today, before deciding on whether to break off the talks on completion of tomorrow’s EU Council meeting.
This is not going down well in the EU27, as they think that we could soldier on for a few more days and maybe weeks while they try and wear us down.
And one of the issues seems to be the saving of face, with Barnier saying that both sides needed to show their domestic voters that they had won something on fishing.
Well, with the UK Fisheries Bill going through its final stages of parliament last night, I’m not sure there’s much scope for anything other than the UK wresting back full control over its Exclusive Economic Zone.
Although there is talk amongst the EU fishing community of somehow taking the UK to court over what they deem as their ‘historical rights’. They claim that the UK is trying to take control of something it never had control of in the first place.
But if that were the case, how could the EU control it?
At the end of the day, it was always going to be a choice of whether the UK wrested back control, or whether it caved in to more EU control.
Thankfully, it looks like the former.
Something that may have sparked Brussels into a realisation that the UK was not bluffing and that we really will go without a deal rather than surrender to more entanglement with Brussels.
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On the verge of a no-deal Brexit. In 4k video.