Boris Johnson meets Ursula von der Leyen in Brussels
Boris Johnson failed to come to a final arrangement with EU Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen at dinner last week, putting the UK within spitting distance of a no-deal Brexit. Both Mr Johnson and the EU have since warned no-deal is likely and urged people to prepare for this scenario, branded a potential disaster by economics experts. The country risks compounding the effects of Covid-19 for both locals and the EU, but the Prime Minister in a far weaker position, according to one expert.
Government ministers have recently pushed to build around the narrative the EU is negotiating “in bad faith”.
The hugely unpopular Internal Market Bill served as insurance for this fact, they said, allowing the UK to break its Withdrawal Agreement promises if needed.
But Professor Alex de Ruyter, Director of Birmingham City University’s Centre for Brexit Studies, said the EU has grown tired of the UK’s conduct.
He said: “The EU has clearly run out of patience with a UK Government that it shows little trust in.”
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Professor de Ruyter added the Internal Market Bill contributed to this, which notably sparked outrage across the channel.
The country has now pedalled back on the bill’s offending clauses, but the professor added the UK would need to make further concessions or risk no-deal with an increasingly “serious” EU.
He added: “Going forward, the choice for the UK is simple.
“Accept the EU terms for an agreement pretty much as they are, or walk away with no deal.
“The EU threat to deny landing rights to UK aircraft or access for UK hauliers unless regulatory alignment with Brussels is agreed to in the event of a No Deal show just how serious they are and hence that they are extremely unlikely to compromise any further.
“That suggests that the EU are now being more ‘pushy’ (and they would – the UK is in a really weak negotiating position).”
At the head of the “weakened” UK is Boris Johnson, who is now within hours of his deadline with the EU.
Professor de Ruyter said the Prime Minister has “run out of road”.
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He said: “Boris Johnson, then, finally faces his day of Brexit reckoning.
“He has run out of road in which to push negotiations down, and this Sunday’s deadline does look to be a ‘final’ deadline (though never say never of course), given that time would be needed for both sides to ratify a deal before the end of the year.”
The current Government’s conduct has worried some of Mr Johnson’s ministers, who have objected to its bid to “protect” British waters.
Four navy ships will allegedly stand in the English Channel following Brexit to patrol waters and prevent “illegal” fishing without a deal in place.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4, Tobias Ellwood, a former defence minister, said news of the move was “irresponsible” and urged the Prime Minister to conclude a deal.
He said: “I think these headlines are absolutely irresponsible. We need to be focusing on what is already in the bag – 98 percent of the deal is there, there are three or four outstanding issues.
“Important though they are, let’s park those for the future.
“Let’s get this deal because economically, but most importantly, international reputationally this would be so damaging to Britain – it would be a retrograde step, a failure of statecraft.”
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