LONDON – With the passage of time and the gap still widening, Prime Minister Boris Johnson took personal control of the Brexit talks on Monday, announcing that he would be making a final attempt at a trade deal with Britain and Britain later this week Will travel to Brussels. European Union.
Mr. Johnson’s announcement, after a 90-minute phone call with the European Commission’s president, Ursula von der Leyen, lifted the steak as negotiations entered their endgame. After 11 months of negotiations, it appears, only a face-to-face meeting of political leaders can produce a breakthrough.
“We agreed that there are no conditions to finalize an agreement,” Mr. Johnson and Ms. von der Leyen said in a statement, adding that they had told their negotiators “to prepare an overview of the remaining differences”. Body meeting in Brussels on the days of “
He said the key sticking point was Fishing right, And state aid for industry and fair competition – issues that have divided the two parties since the beginning.
Analysts welcomed Mr Johnson’s preparedness to jump, which came after days of intense negotiations that had failed to narrow the gap. With the 31 December deadline to conclude an agreement, there was growing fears that negotiations could fail, throwing Britain’s relationship with 27 countries into flux.
“Would Boris Johnson really go to Brussels if there was no hope now?” Said Mujtaba Rahman, an analyst at political risk consulting, Eurasia Group. “This is the moment to demonstrate, either for a deal, or for a final effort that both sides have tried very hard to reach an agreement that was ultimately out of reach.”
If Mr Johnson’s negotiations with Ms von der Leyen failed to circumvent the deadlock, Britain’s strategy, he said, would put the issue on the EU government’s agenda, which are gathering in Brussels on Thursday.
This reflects a belief that negotiators have gained as much, and a new political impetus is needed to break the deadlock. But Mr Rahman warned that if Britain saw this as an opportunity to try to dissolve the unity of EU member states, it would be a possible shelling.
Britain left the European Union in January, but little has changed so far as it is bound by the bloc’s trade rules by the end of the year. That arrangement should have given London and Brussels time to complete a long-term trade agreement.
Failure to strike an agreement will reduce the damage done by the coronovirus epidemic on either side of the English Channel. But it would have far greater influence in the UK, where it would mean new trade barriers with the country’s largest partner, as well as potential friction with the United States.
Even with a deal, there will be more scrutiny of goods at border points. The British intended to phase in most of these controls in six months to limit disengagement, but France is unlikely to do so, which could close cross-channel ports and leave stranded ferries .
On Monday, Downing Street admitted that food prices in Britain would rise without a trade deal, although it argued that these increases would be modest. Food importers have warned that some products, including some fruits and vegetables, may temporarily disappear from grocery shelves.
Tariffs can have disastrous effects on some areas and put the government under tremendous pressure to take steps to provide compensation. The hardest hit would be sheep farmers, whose lamb would be exported to the European Union, with tariffs hitting an average of about 48 percent.
Some automakers are warning that imposition of export duty may make their business unstable. Even with a business deal, the problems they may face depend on the fine print of the agreement and the specifications of what proportion of non-British components are allowed to be used in manufacturing.
Peter Ricketts, a former UK national security adviser, wrote, “The sheer willingness to step back from the details and from our nearest neighbors, who account for 45 per cent of our exports, even without a basic trade deal” Reflect non-equity. ” , On Twitter.
There will also be problems on the European side, particularly for Ireland, whose economy is close to that of Britain. German, French, Dutch and Belgian companies will also suffer losses, although the pain will spread more, possibly reducing its impact in any one country.
This has led European diplomats to conclude that Britain remains a weak hand, especially as its chances of striking a trade deal with the United States have diminished because Joseph R. Biden Jr. is President-elect.
However, Mr. Johnson’s final decision on any possible deal probably depends on a scuffle calculation from the rest of his own Conservative Party backbench MPs. The pro-Brexit faction forced Mr Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May, and warned Mr Johnson that he had limited space for maneuver.
“Hard-line minorities in Johnson’s party face a lot of weight, especially when they play at the hearts of sovereignty,” said Bobby McDonagh, a former Irish ambassador to Britain. “London has a view of sovereignty, which is difficult to come to grips with because it does not account for the sovereignty of other countries.”
On Monday, the Johnson government brought back a bill to the House of Commons that would Revisit parts of its withdrawal agreement With Brussels which deals with Northern Ireland – there is a reversal that has affected many European authorities. Parts of the law were rejected by the House of Lords, which the government considers a violation of international law.
But in separate meetings, British officials expanded an olive branch, telling EU officials that they would strike derogatory language from the law if both sides struck a trade deal.
Britain’s treatment of Northern Ireland is also significant for its relationship with President-elect Biden. He expressed concern during the campaign that Mr Johnson’s negotiating strategy could threaten the Good Friday Agreement, which settled decades of communal violence in Northern Ireland.
The terms of Britain’s trade relations with the United States will not change with or without the Brexit deal. This would be covered by World Trade Organization rules, as it was before Brexit.
Mr. Biden has rejected new trade agreements with any country until the United States improves its competition. Trade experts warned that Britain could be handicapped in other ways if negotiations with Brussels failed.
“If there is no UK-EU deal, it will be very difficult to reach an agreement with the US, which includes basic topics such as basic trade, agricultural trade, and regulations on food security,” Daniel M. Price, a former top business adviser to President George W. Bush.