Brexit analysis: Crucial reason Boris Johnson is poised to walk away without Brexit deal
BORIS JOHNSON may be in a better position to walk away from EU trade negotiations without a deal than previously thought, according to trade experts.
Post-Brexit trade talks are set to take place at break-neck speed over the next few months after the UK shut down the EU’s plea to extend the transition period. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that he would rather walk away from negotiations than make the Brexit process last even longer. While some commentators have claimed this is just a front and the Government is actually very keen to seal a deal with the bloc, others have suggested that recent events mean the UK no longer needs such an agreement
At the beginning of the month, The New York Times explained how some analysts have questioned if an EU trade agreement is still the best for Britain in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
London bureau chief Mark Landler and London correspondent Stephen Castle wrote that a no-deal outcome “now seems entirely plausible”, and could be best for the Government.
They explained: “Far from pressuring Mr Johnson to plead for more time, the pandemic is reordering the global economy in ways that have led some to question whether an agreement with Europe even makes sense for Britain anymore.
“With Mr Johnson under fire for his chaotic handling of the virus, the compromises he would have to make with Brussels might be too great for his embattled government.”
EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier and Prime Minister Boris Johnson
Brexit news: Boris Johnson may be able to go ahead with a no deal Brexit
A former European Commission economist Mujtaba Rahman told the New York Times: “COVID-19, in the eyes of the government, has further reduced the value of a deal.
“The economy after the crisis is going to look fundamentally different than before the crisis, and the government wants a freer hand in reshaping that economy.”
The UK and the EU have been in deadlocked trade talks since Britain officially left the bloc at the end of January.
The two sides have been stuck in disagreement over a so-called level playing field, access to UK fisheries and the governance of any future agreement.
The coronavirus pandemic has changed the economy within Europe
If no deal has been reached by the end of the year, the UK will default to a World Trade Organisation trade agreement with the EU, which is known as no-deal.
Analysts have claimed that this outcome will shock the economy in the UK.
However, extending the transition period in the hope of securing a deal, according to The New York Times, could risk “a politically poisonous outcome for Mr Johnson”, as the UK would have to pay billions of pounds to stay with the EU’s trading regime.
Brexit timeline for this year
Johnson is determined for the UK to have left the transition period by the end of the year
The outlet also pointed out that most within Mr Johnson’s Conservative Party— even those who have been critical of his handling of the pandemic — are hardline Brexiteers.
The article explained: “For Mr Johnson, it makes little sense to alienate them now by compromising over post-Brexit trade arrangements.”
The EU will also be focused on rebuilding the bloc following the devastation of the pandemic, which is set to cause a recession across Europe.
Key member states have become deeply resentful towards the bloc during the crisis, such as Italy after the EU failed to step in and help as its death rate shot up.
Johnson with EU leaders last year after negotiating the Withdrawal agreement
Some fear Italy could be the next to leave the EU too, meaning the bloc will have to cope with putting out fires and appeasing its member states in the coming years.
David Frost, the UK’s negotiator, recently claimed that “we are close to the limits of what we can achieve” in terms of a trade deal, suggesting the deadlock cannot be broken.
Indeed the pandemic and rising unemployment may also force the UK “to bring manufacturing home to reduce dependence on global supply chains”, according to the New York Times — meaning an agreement of compromise with the EU is less important.
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