David Davis MP warns in the Sun the last three weeks of Brexit talks will be crucial to securing a trade deal
As published in The Sun:
BRUSSELS is gloomy about clinching a trade deal before Brexit — as a top Tory warns the last three weeks of talks will be critical.
EU negotiating chief Michel Barnier is braced for a major bust-up next month, vowing to be “cold blooded” with Britain.
Both sides have earmarked October for a deadline. But former Brexit Secretary David Davis has warned it is a critical endgame and the UK will soon have to be preparing for talks to collapse.
He said Brussels will try to take things to the wire, adding: “The last three weeks will matter more than the first three years.”
One Eurocrat admitted “outsiders don’t realise how pessimistic we’ve become” about getting a trade deal.
The UK is holding firm on a refusal to accept EU red tape or cave in on fishing rights. Mr Barnier fears talks are headed for a bitter breakdown.
He believes Downing Street is laying the ground for a vicious “blame game” over who is responsible for the stalemate.
In a gloomy briefing to diplomats, the grumpy Frenchman claimed that last week’s tetchy round of talks have made things worse.
‘COLD BLOODED’ APPROACH
The UK’s negotiator David Frost had put forward a draft text last week in the hope of speeding up the discussions. But Mr Barnier dismissed it as “unrealistic” and urged EU states to stay “cold blooded”.
He insisted that the UK’s “clear strategy” will be to “trade off” fishing access for freedom from EU rules at the last minute.
An EU source said: “We expect the mood to switch rapidly to contingency planning in expectation the UK will throw itself into the blame game rather than the endgame.”
A British official hit back, saying: “The UK has consistently pushed for detailed textual discussions on the core elements of a trade agreement.
“If the EU continues to stall progress because of its unrealistic asks on fish and subsidies, we will quickly run out of time.”
Barnier ploy will cost EU big time
By David Davis, Ex Brexit Secretary
Well now I’ve seen everything. The gullible British Remainer Press report breathlessly that Michel Barnier is telling us (yet again) that the Brexit negotiations are “running out of time.”
This of course is the man who squandered a year on the minutiae of the Withdrawal Agreement whilst refusing to discuss the hugely important future trade arrangement, all the while claiming that we were “running out of time.”
Rather shamefully the British government put up with this nonsense, which led in turn to my resignation – but that is a story for another day.
Now Barnier is desperate to resolve his so-called redline issues before we get to the critical endgame.
I have always said that the last three weeks will matter more than the first three years.
But there will come a time very shortly when we will have to shift the thrust of our preparations towards No Deal.
The reason for this is that the European Union always runs out the clock. When it is bullying some smaller state this works to its advantage.
In the Brexit negotiation what will happen in the last few weeks is that the nation states of Europe will have to come to terms with the size of the risks that Barnier is taking.
If we end up with a no deal scenario – and it is possible – the Europeans stand to lose a large and very profitable marketplace, namely the United Kingdom.
They stand to lose access to the most efficient financial market in the world, the City, which provides brilliantly low cost and low risk finance to all of their industries. They think that is punishing us, but they will really punish themselves if we are smart about it.
They stand to lose any access to British fisheries, rather than the sensible and civilised arrangements that would apply once they accept agreed British control of our waters.
They stand to lose the funding that was agreed under the Withdrawal Agreement, which was agreed on the presumption that we would get a trade deal, a political promise that the EU is failing to keep.
Without a reasonable trade deal there is nothing to stop the United Kingdom repudiating the whole agreement, and simply maintaining the parts that we as a civilised nation would of course apply – including for example the protection of the rights of European Citizens.
But pay money? Why? Recognise European product classifications in the UK, the so-called Geographical Indications, that protect individual European products like ham,or cheese, or beer or wine? Why should we not allow cheaper and better products from the rest of the world to use the names in our Supermarkets?
This would not be the best outcome, but we would manage perfectly well.
If the EU put tariffs on our goods, we will return the favour, and make money on it. Our currency would no doubt adjust to keep us competitive.
And without the limitations of EU law, we could support the industries that the EU is trying to punish.
Which of course is one of the reasons that the EU is trying to tie our hands on state subsidies to industry.
Britain has always been much less likely to use these than European nations, but the Europeans know that they are a potential defensive weapon if they try to punish our industries.
David Frost, our Brexit negotiator, is doing a good job. He has been clear on our “red lines”. Unlike the EU “red lines”, these are not just ideas made up by the Government, they are the direct outcome of the referendum. As such they represent the people’s decision, and are not subject to concession.
We are not going to allow Brussels to decide our laws – which is what Barnier means by a level playing field. So it is time that the Europeans woke up to the realities.
It is clear that there are only two options now for leaving at the end of the transition period, a no deal exit or a zero-tariff deal. All sensible business owners will be preparing for both.
Deferral and delay is the only thing that affects certainty and the delay on March 29th last year was the only time when the economy was rattled – businesses will be ready for Brexit come what may when the transition period finishes at the end of the year.
Certainty is what both business and the country as a whole require, not just to get Brexit done but also to help ensure that the economy bounces back from the negative economic effects of the lockdown.
We already know that there has been no “Great British Exodus” nor immediate recession despite what certain pundits and commentators predicted.
As long as we leave on time and do not drag this out any further, there is no reason why this should change.
Indeed, if we deliver the certainty of the end of the transition period, there is every reason that business and the economy will bounce back.