EU and UK becoming entrenched on Brexit arrangements.

London & Brussels

The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, has raised the ‘threat level’ as he bluntly warned the U.K. that it may not get a Brexit transition period if London continues to dispute the proposed terms.  He has now said that: “It’s not a given”

Brexit-Partners have been observing and reporting on the gulf that is growing between the two sides on an ever increasing number of issues.  Then last week – and whilst Theresa May was closeted for 2 days with the UK Cabinet to focus on Brexit - we reported that the EU had warned the UK - in no uncertain terms – that it needed to finalise its negotiating stance.

Behind the rhetoric of the politicians, there are civil servants on each side of the Channel and each is charged with identifying and guiding the negotiations with a view to getting the best possible outcome for their own side.  Barnier, as we have previously noted, has an unbroken track record in delivering to his negotiating brief – and this includes getting the UK to cross a number of red lines that it had pronounced as “un-crossable”.  Meanwhile, for the UK, Oliver “Olllie” Robbins is the chief Brexit advisor to the Prime Minister – and, according his BBC Radio 4 profile (11 February 2018), he has a similar track record in UK Government circles.

As the politicians square up to each other – and just ahead of the most crucial phase in the negotiations, beginning in March 2018 - the messages coming from their advisors are that a smooth transition is now in jeopardy.  Barnier was visibly annoyed as he spoke at a news conference in Brussels late last week.  He noted that the UK had put forward a list of objections to the terms of transition proposed by the EU.  He professed bewilderment and said that Britain “must accept the ineluctable consequences of its decision to leave the European Union, to leave its institutions and its policies.”

This further move into uncertainty – coming on top of the strong warnings about the absolute need for clarity from UK trade bodies representing over 90% of business - was enough to push sterling down in the currency markets.

Further details of the areas of disagreement can be found in our other “Insight” papers – or contact Brexit-Partners via their website (http://www.brexit-partners.com) for analysis if you believe that your business will be affected and we can assist in completing an impact analysis and developing a Brexit response.

Finally, we have to report that the political wrangling and lack of agreement is legitimising ‘non-elected’ parties the opportunity to intervene in the debate.  With the best will in in world, it is difficult to argue against leaders that have a demonstrable and successful track record in their own field who are now expressing concerns that Brexit is not being managed in the best interests of the British electorate.  Two such are Nick Clegg and George Sorros.  We will represent and comment on how considered are their interventions in a future Blog.

John ShuttleworthComment