We always knew that trade talks between the UK and the EU were going to be long and tedious.
Talks between Downing Street and Brussels over the post-Brexit trade deals have again come to a halt. This hasn’t been helped by the fact that talks are currently taking place on video link, instead of face to face.
We officially left the European Union on the 31st January and we are now in a transition period until the end of 2020. During this time the UK still has to abide by European law and fulfil its obligations to the Union.
There have been four rounds of negotiations so far and both sides have confirmed that little progress has been made.
Currently, there isn’t even any agreement on the fundamental structure of what they’re trying to negotiate. The EU is pushing for one comprehensive deal covering every aspect of the future relationship, not just trade.
Downing Street sees this proposal as an effort to keep the UK tied more closely than it would like to European institutions and their ways of operating. The UK’s proposal is a basic free trade deal with a following series of separate agreements.
Firstly, a level playing field. This means measures to ensure businesses on one side do not have an unfair advantage over their competitors on the other. This is something that all trade deals have but the EU wants the UK to keep to European rules on worker’s rights, state aid, environmental regulations and subsidies for businesses.
Secondly, fishing. The UK’s proposal would mean full access to the EU market to sell its fish. However, the European Union have stated that should that be the case, they want full access for their boats to fish in UK waters. This is not possible due to the fact that the UK is now an independent coastal state.
Thirdly, governance of any future agreement. This is mainly about who and how enforces the future agreements. This would also take into account the European Court of Justice.
Fourthly, police and security co-operation. The UK has said that it wants to maintain the same level of access to EU databases that is has now. The EU have made very clear that this is not an option to non-members.
Lastly, the Irish border. The border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland is now the border between the UK and the EU. There is ongoing speculation as to whether this border will be kept as open as it is now; and if the situation did change, the legal issues that would stem from it.
If no agreement is made by the end of the year then the UK will be on WTO (world trade organisation) rules with the EU. An organisation which currently has 164 members – so don’t let anyone tell you that it isn’t good enough.
The Scottish and Welsh governments, along with the Northern Ireland Assembly have advised the government to seek an extension. Something which the EU is willing to discuss – what a surprise…
The UK government has repeatedly ruled out this option, and rightly so. Boris’ pledge of ‘getting Brexit done’ was greatly received by the public. We saw safe red seats go blue for the first time. We saw people from all generations voting Conservative for the first time. It is so important that Boris holds his nerve and sticks to his guns.
It is very clear that neither side are going to get what they want. We should walk away and focus on getting new and brilliant trade deals with people who want to do business with us, as well as finalising our post-Brexit trade deals with Japan and America. We need to get the United Kingdom back on the world stage as a sovereign state.
This whole malarky has been going on for four years; it is time it came to an end. The deadline for seeking an extension is July 1st. No deal is better than a bad one.
Boris, don’t let us down.