“Independence is freedom, and you can never be a little bit free” writes MP Andrew Bridgen, in response to the possibility of a “No Deal” with the European Union on trade.
There is a truism that all EU negotiations go down the wire. What we saw this week is the EU living down to its reputation by seeking at the 11th hour to move the wire back a couple of weeks.
A statement from the EU summit, which was planned to ratify the trade deal, has been subject to lengthy negotiations between the UK representative Lord David Frost and the veteran EU lead negotiator.
Michel Barnier for the past 10 months has made it clear that the EU expected all the concessions to get a trade deal over the line to come from the UK side. This clearly riled and perturbed not only Lord Frost but also Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his advisors in Number 10. The response from Boris was unequivocal and will have surprised, if not shocked, the EU in typical ‘Cummings strategy’.
By Boris Johnson declaring that “It is now clear that after 45 years as a member of the EU that they will not allow us the same trade deal as Canada”, and “ trade negotiations are “over” he has thrown the gauntlet down to the EU. Boris doubled down by adding that we need to “get ready” to leave the transition period with a similar deal to the one that Australia has with the EU, effectively WTO with some side agreements which only further ramps up the pressure. The Prime Minister has ensured that if Michel Barnier decides to travel to London next week, he now knows that he will have to be bringing serious compromises from the EU side in order to keep the trade negotiations alive.
If a trade agreement is concluded between the UK and the EU within the next two weeks, however bare-boned, it must state that it supersedes and replaces the Withdrawal Agreement in full. If no final deal is forthcoming then the first job our newly Independent sovereign Parliament must do is craft legislation to remove us from the spider’s web of the Withdrawal Agreement in early January 2021.
However, the comment that concerned me most from the EU summit was that of German Chancellor Angela Merkel when she declared that, “it is clear that the UK wants quite a lot of independence.”
I do wonder what our civil servants have been saying to the EU for the last four years? Given the German Chancellor’s comments, I am not surprised that the EU has so badly misjudged the resolve of the new Conservative Government, elected less than a year ago, and more importantly the determination of the UK people to fully implement the Referendum result.
Independence is freedom, and you can never be a little bit free.