If none were found, he said, the United Kingdom would prepare for a future without a deal. The increased boldness on the behalf of UK officials comes ahead of the planned publication of an internal market bill that would undermine key tenets of the most recent exit pact. The behavior could be interpreted as bluffing if it were not for the Northern Ireland protocol and the fact that Britain might no longer be able to comply with certain aspects of the Withdrawal Agreement.
“Under the withdrawal agreement, the UK must notify Brussels of any state-aid decisions that would affect Northern Ireland’s goods market, and compel businesses in the province to file customs paperwork when sending goods into the rest of the UK,” it was reported on Monday. EU observers were unsure how to assess the report. Was it part of a negotiation strategy or just saber-rattling? Was Johnson trying to placate Brexit hard-liners in his party who have been agitating against Withdrawal Agreement for a while already? Or is he really preparing Britain for a hard no-deal Brexit?
A ‘good outcome’?
A breach of the Withdrawal Agreement would be considered a red line by the EU. But Johnson insisted that even a no-deal Brexit would be a “good outcome” for the United Kingdom, which would “prosper mightily as a result.” If Britain crashes out without a deal at the end of the transition period on December 31, 2020, the country will have to trade with the bloc on World Trade Organization (WTO) terms. EU cars imported to Britain would be subject to 10% tariffs; dairy products could be marked up 35%.
“As a government we are preparing, at our borders and at our ports, to be ready for it,” Johnson said. “We will have full control over our laws, our rules and our fishing waters.”
Britain’s insistence that it have full autonomy on state aid to industries and fishing has been a particular sticking point in the trade talks. Frost said Britain would not become a “client state” of the European Union.
Splitting up Ireland
The UK government’s insistence on sovereignty and wanting to “take back control” has also caused the EU negotiators to dig their heels in further and require certain conditions in order for Britain to have access to the single market. Aside from the tariffs and customs duties, it is the non-financial barriers — plant and animal health regulations, rules of origin, hygiene standards, etc. — that are crucial here. Beginning in January, the European Union will be entitled to impose all kinds of controls at the bloc’s borders with Britain. WTO director-general Roberto Azevedo told the BBC that the adjustments could be “particularly painful” for some sectors.
Negotiations between EU representatives and Britain’s government were expected to continue on Tuesday in London. However, there is the risk that EU officials will see a declaration of war in the announcement that Britain’s government would publish sections of the internal market bill on Wednesday and reports that these could override aspects of the Withdrawal Agreement. EU officials have always said there would only be a trade deal if Britain’s government complies with this agreement. “Prime Minister, there is no such thing as a good outcome in #Brexit,” Manfred Weber, a German member of the European Parliament from Bavaria’s Christian Social Union, wrote in a tweet directed at Johnson. “Instead of taking Northern Ireland hostage again, it would be better that you keep your word and stand by the Withdrawal Agreement. Can we trust you keep your word?” Britain’s government signed the Northern Ireland Protocol, which allows the two Irelands — the EU member Republic of Ireland and the UK’s Northern Ireland — to be considered a unified economic entity even after Brexit, in autumn 2019.
— This article has been provided by Deutsche Welle