The Telegraph, May 19
A word that has hardly been on any lips recently, and yet a few months ago dominated political discourse, is “Brexit”. We have left the EU but remain in a transition phase during which a trade deal is to be negotiated by the end of the year. There seemed every reason to believe that would happen until the pandemic crisis hit. Now, a no-deal exit looks more likely than not.
The problem is that Michel Barnier, the EU chief negotiator, is working to a set of demands that the UK simply cannot accept, notably over fishing rights and adherence to single-market rules and regulations. Ministers have said that the EU treats with the UK as though it were still a member.
Inevitably negotiations get bogged down as both sides dig in and defend their interests. Some compromise is a requirement for progress, yet Mr Barnier is hamstrung by a mandate from EU leaders that no one in the current circumstances is prepared to revisit and which Eurocrats say is non-negotiable.
Does it matter? Those who oppose Brexit fear the talks will unravel and are urging the Government to seek an extension to the December 31 deadline, something that would need to be agreed by the end of next month. A report from the Centre for Brexit Policy think tank says any extension would cost the country billions in continued payments, and an inability to take our own decisions to meet economic requirements or strike new trade deals.
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Click here to read the report.