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Deadline for a UK-EU trade deal approaches

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
AFP file photo

As the final deadline approaches for the UK to somehow convince the EU to agree to a trade deal, it seems that things are looking bad for the British who appear to be refusing to compromise with the EU, hence potentially leaving the UK in a position that will see them come crashing out of the bloc, and trading under WTO rules. But could the EU be on the verge of giving the British just one last chance?

Up until now, the EU have played the winning hand on every account as they face off with the British over a post Brexit trade deal, yet as the deadline fast approaches for the British to beg the EU to adhere to some kind of trade rules, desperate measures may be taken in the 11th hour of the negotiations.

With many of the big players in the EU very much in favour of the bloc, the French have urged the EU chief Negotiator, Michel Barnier to remain firm and stick to the plan, compelling him to stay tough on the approach the EU takes with Britain. 

"Friends and partners" become impatient 

The British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson recently stated that any deal is now down to the 'friends and partners' of the EU, yet the message Boris Johnson must understand is that the very best deal he can expect to get, would still have to be less favourable than the worse conditions of staying in the EU, otherwise, what's the point of having an EU, so is this the future that Britain truly wishes to pursue? 

However, it seems that the EU is fast running out of patience with the British, with Barnier almost calling it a day recently stating there was no point negotiating with over a lost cause, as it was clear, that Britain was in no mood to make any commissions with the EU, yet it seems that the EU lead has been reassured between the lines by the British chief negotiator, David Frost, that Britain may have no choice but to align to EU requests, much to the distaste of the British. 

Stronger Together was coined for the EU for an excellent reason

So was the real reason that the EU agreed to more talks because the British have finally realised that they must secure some kind of deal, or face the perils of being a lonely piece of land floating off the coast of Europe, with no friends, a shattered economy, and left in a position facing the realisation that the notion of Stronger Together was coined for the EU for an excellent reason.

I think he is taking an extra precaution, if you're dealing with an unruly child or a deranged person It's up to you to seem ultra reasonable, and I think this is what Barnier is doing with Boris Johnson. I mean, the whole Brexit scenario that the British government has produced has been  crazy thoughtless ill planned all along, and I think they recognise that, but they have to make sure, they know wild accusations will go around that the blame goes fairly back where it belongs, it goes to a ghost of Boris Johnson.

Ian Williams, Senior Analyst, Foreign Policy in Focus

Promises made but not kept

One of the key components of the Brexit idea was Boris Johnson, who during his campaign promised a wave of benefits to the British should they leave the EU. These included huge sums of money pumped back into the NHS, the ability to control its borders, and the ability to seek free trade agreements across the world, without being dictated to by Brussels.

However, with Boris now in self-isolation during one of the most critical times of the Brexit negotiations, and the fact that Johnson has lost his two closest advisors in the form of Dominic Cummings and Lee Cain, does the UK have anyone left in the team to be able to deliver on the promises once made, or will the weakened Downing Street team be forced to shift policy, and adhere to the conditions being demanded by the EU?

The demise of "Chumocracy"

When Dominic Cummings left Downing Street with his tail between his legs, there was an air of celebration in the UK, as many people finally saw the back of the man who masterminded Brexit, yet on the other hand, breached the travel rules during the lockdown making him public enemy number one.

Yet, with Cummings now gone, could this be an excuse for Boris Johnson to change the stance when it comes to negotiating with Europe, using Cummings as a scapegoat along the way for all the previous failures and weak negotiating skills against the EU, and leading Britain from his arm chair in self-isolation? 

But the question is just how much is Boris Johnson being kept in the loop when it comes to the final rounds of the talks, in particular as he is in isolation? Does the Prime Minister have the influence he may of had had in person, whilst sat at home? 

At the moment I suspect what he's looking for is a way that things can happen. And if they're good he'll take credit, and if they're bad, he can wash his hands. He can say I wasn't there, I had COVID, the country had COVID. He is a, he is, he's like, he's like Donald Trump; nothing ever comes back to his doorstep it's always somebody else's fault. It's always I told you this would happen and no one listened to him, and he's doing the same thing. He's slapping up the blame onto other people. And I think that's what he's preparing to do now.

Ian Williams, Senior Analyst, Foreign Policy in Focus

Possible end of "special relationship"

With the British now in a weaker than ever position since the apparent news that Joe Biden will become the next President of the United States, in particular when it comes to the handling of the situation in the North of Ireland, it seems that even as the talks near their final stages, the British are no closer to being able to come away from the talks with any hope of relying on trans-atlantic trade, as Biden as we all know, is a very different man to Trump. 

With the UK facing a very bleak Christmas and New Year due to the ongoing COVID-19 virus, as well as the notion that it may very well find itself without any trade partners come 2021, it seems that all measures must now be taken to somehow agree to terms with the EU, and from there, somehow convince the rest of the world that little Britain is worth trading with, over, and as opposed to trading with the might of the European Union.

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