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Brexit talks stall on key issues

Rory Broomfield, Director of the Better Off Out campaign, writes:

Brexit talks have seemingly stalled as “no decisive progress on principal subjects” has been reached after the third round of talks with “significant differences to be bridged” as the EU team is branded “incapable” of negotiating by UK officials.

The charge comes as deadlock is reached over not just the so-called ‘divorce bill’ but also how to progress. The UK team, as mentioned by David Davis earlier this week, was looking for “flexibility and imagination” from the EU. He reiterated this call today as the Brexit secretary said the UK has produced “creative solutions” that he hoped would be matched by the EU Commission. Unfortunately, what the UK team seemed to get during this round of talks was a brick wall of bureaucracy.

Earlier on SkyNews the Commissioning Brexit Editor for the Telegraph, Asa Bennett, rightly said that for a negotiation to work it “has to work both ways” and that the EU’s representatives are now seen by the British as “messengers not negotiators”. This is because, for every position that the UK seeks a compromise on, the EU’s team has to refer back to 27 other member states. There was some “fruitful” progress made on Ireland according to M. Barnier, however, overall “there is still some way to go” in the negotiations according to Mr. Davis.

Indeed, the negotiators are still quite far away from being in a position to talk about trade agreements. In mentioning this, Barnier was seemingly keen to stress that the “clock is ticking”.

This is the same problem that faced David Cameron during his ill-fated renegotiation and reflects, as some have previously suggested to me, that Yanis Varoufakis was right when he mentioned in his book, ‘Adults in the Room’, how rigid the EU are when it comes to negotiation.

It means that the UK government has to prepare for a ‘no-deal’ scenario. We cannot have the same situation as with Cameron when, despite there being a possibility of a Leave vote, Whitehall was ordered not to make plans for it happening.

Meanwhile, Tony Blair has met with Jean-Claude Juncker to discuss “current European economics and politics”, which we all know is a code for Brexit.

Although there seems to be some good faith displayed in the press conference, I suspect that the newspapers in the UK and elsewhere will be willing for a catastrophic scenario where the UK is unprepared for the worst. I agree with David Davis when he said in the press conference today that both the UK and the EU must have “one eye on the future” – and the relationship between the UK and the EU. As such, they must both prepare for ‘no deal’ being ‘the deal’.

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