What occurred on Wednesday night time?
Boris Johnson and the European fee president, Ursula von der Leyen, met in particular person over a three-hour scallop and turbot dinner to attempt to unlock the Brexit commerce negotiations impasse. As anticipated, each side agreed to proceed speaking – however they agreed that the gaps between their positions stay extensive.
Can we learn something into the language of their statements?
Not like the earlier two conferences, there was no joint assertion following the leaders’ summit. Some have concluded it is a reflection of the depth of division on the dinner desk.
A press release from a Downing Avenue supply was the extra pessimistic of the 2, stating “very massive gaps stay between the 2 sides and it’s nonetheless unclear whether or not these could be bridged”. Von der Leyen acknowledged extra positively that “we gained a transparent understanding of one another’s positions” however added “they continue to be far aside”.
How does this evaluate with earlier Brexit summits?
The statements are conspicuously completely different from after final yr’s breakthrough assembly within the Wirral between Johnson and Leo Varadkar. The then taoiseach revealed they’d discovered a “pathway to a potential Brexit deal”, and days later a deal was sealed. By comparability, the optics of Wednesday night time’s consequence weren’t good.
Does this imply all hope of a deal is dashed?
No. Each side have stated talks will proceed till Sunday and Downing Avenue stated the prime minister was resolved to attempt to get a deal, saying: “The PM doesn’t wish to go away any path to a potential deal untested.”
Is Sunday a agency deadline?
The Brexit commerce talks have been punctuated by at the very least 4 formal deadlines laid down by both the EU or the UK. Dominic Raab, the overseas secretary, just lately stated “by no means say by no means” – and indicated that talks may go proper as much as 31 December, the authorized finish of the transition interval.
Raab instructed Sky Information on Thursday that Sunday will likely be a “level of finality”, however this might be a hardening of language to ratchet up strain on the EU to compromise. Some imagine the language within the twin statements might be a part of a choreographed set-up for a victory to be declared by Johnson.
Whereas the temper in Brussels has been downbeat, in keeping with the Irish overseas minister, Simon Coveney, sources within the EU have been saying prior to now few weeks that Brussels could be snug with helping Johnson to ship what could be painted as a victory to the British public – or extra notably his arduous Brexit backbenchers – if that’s what it takes to seal a deal.
What occurs if there’s a deal?
Any deal should be accredited by EU member states, the European parliament and the British parliament.
Commerce offers must be allowed 21 days’ scrutiny in parliament, beneath the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010. However there may be not sufficient time for that until MPs have been to take a seat day-after-day together with Christmas Day till New Yr’s Eve.
As a substitute, the prime minister is predicted to fast-track laws for the deal and, offered he will get the help of Labour within the type of a vote of help or abstention, the regulation will sail by way of.
On the EU facet, the European parliament has agreed to take a seat in a particular session on 28 December, however most of the 730 MPs could protest that they don’t have time to look at a 700-page doc to make an knowledgeable choice about their voting desire.
On this situation, the European council of member state leaders can approve that the deal could be provisionally carried out on 1 January, arguing distinctive circumstances.
What about no-deal planning?
The federal government has dusted down no-deal contingency plans that had two outings final yr – one in preparation for a crash-out on 29 March 2019, and one other in October when it appeared that Johnson, as the brand new Conservative get together chief, was ready to stroll out with no deal.
The plans concerned placing the military on standby to cope with any issues getting meals and medical provides by way of ports, and likewise potential civil unrest.
Planes must be allowed to maintain flying and lorries to maintain transferring within the occasion of no deal after the European fee set out its contingency plans on Thursday, which might permit aviation and highway transport to proceed as now for six months from 1 January – so long as the UK authorities agrees to take care of a “stage enjoying discipline” in requirements.