EU remains strongly opposed to Chequers proposal – increasing chances of a no-deal Brexit

The Prime Minister said she will not compromise on the UK Government's Chequers plan.

Meanwhile Michel Barnier – whilst he has previously expressed criticism about the Chequers plan said that plans for a "common rulebook" for goods but not services were not in the EU's interests:  "Our own ecosystem has grown over decades.  You cannot play with it by picking pieces."  He has not been this explicit before.

There is a practical deadline of October for agreement to be finalised and implemented.  If the politicians allow this to slip to mid-November, as some have suggested, there will be no time for businesses and individuals to complete the slew of changes.  Yesterday, we reported on the impact of just one of the 84 technical notices that have to be absorbed, understood and acted upon – and the scope covers any and everybody in the UK or Europe that has a bank account, an insurance policy, mortgage or loan. 

Meanwhile, Birmingham University Centre for Brexit Studies continues to bring insights into the fallout from Brexit.  I would like to reflect the sentiment from the Blog written by Ferry Biedermann: “Handle Brexit well, for the sake of European democracy.”  He looks at Brexit a driver of change in the context of the wider forces that are shifting and destabilising the World order right now.

I lived and working in The Netherlands for 6 years and agree with him that: “the Dutch are known as practical people, pragmatic seafaring merchants, at least that’s how we like to present ourselves.”   So why have they done away with the consultative referendum in July this year. Biedermann concludes that: “Brexit, in a way, killed the Dutch referendum.”

His observations from our neighbour across the North Sea: “Brexit cannot be uncoupled from the by now well-known litany of modern political plagues: Trump, fake news and Russian meddling…”

Revelations about Russian interference and their alleged links to the leave campaign: “have not even raised that many eyebrows on the continent, as we had for some time assumed this was the case.”

He concludes that a badly handled Brexit will increase the pressures that could ultimately lead to a breakup of the EU when added to changes such as the results of the Dutch general elections in 2017 [anti-EU parties came second]; French presidential elections; 2018 Italian election of a Eurosceptic government – and other countries, such as Hungary, Poland and Austria drift ever closer to the Eurosceptic camp.

Little surprise then that Barnier has dug-in against Theresa May's plan: "It would be the end of the single market and the European project".

He offered the UK a choice: "stay in the single market, like Norway, which is also not a member of the EU - but they would then have to take over all the associated rules and contributions to European solidarity.”

He is clear that: "if we let the British pick the raisins out of our rules, that would have serious consequences - all sorts of other third countries could insist that we offer them the same benefits."

Mr Barnier's comments were published on the same day May wrote in the Sunday Telegraph that she was "confident" a "good deal" could be reached.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has warned a no-deal Brexit would be a "big mistake for Europe", although Britain "would survive and prosper".

The World Trade Organization - under whose rules the EU and UK would trade if no deal was agreed - said it "would not be end of the world... but it's not going to be a walk in the park".

We agree with Theresa May’s view that it was right for the government to prepare for a no-deal scenario - even though this would create "real challenges for both the UK and the EU" in some sectors.

The rifts in political parties in the UK; the requirement for the EU to resist any deal that compromises integrity of the market; and the sheer timescale needed to conclude and implement the most comprehensive and unique trade deal undertaken by the EU in its 50 years history increases the chances for a no-deal Brexit.

John ShuttleworthComment