Boris, Brexit & Britain October 2020 –

Written by  //  February 10, 2021  //  Europe & EU, U.K./Britain  //  No comments

Brexit: What is the Irish border backstop?
The Guardian Brexit
BBC: Brexit: All you need to know about the UK leaving the EU
Brexit, EU & UK – June 2019
Boris, Brexit & Britain July-November 2019
London’s 2021 fireworks Happy New Year Live!

Brexit’s third act gets underway with a familiar plot line — Northern Ireland
The UK wants grace periods that allow lighter enforcement on EU rules in Northern Ireland to be extended until January 2023.
(Politico Eu)… bad blood has festered since the U.K. finally exited EU rules at the end of 2020 — notably over the Northern Ireland protocol, a key part of the deal that the European Commission came close to suspending last month in a bid to prevent vaccine supplies leaving the bloc. But officials insist that the relationship between Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove and his opposite number Maroš Šefčovič is significantly warmer than that between their predecessors David Frost and Michel Barnier.
Gove has demanded tweaks to the trade rules on goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland to deal with border disruption, and he wants waivers on post-Brexit checks to be extended for nearly two years.
That may be pushing it, but officials on the U.K. side view Šefčovič as someone they can do business with, in contrast to Barnier, who London frequently criticized as taking a robotic approach to the talks. The former Slovak diplomat is well-liked in London and is thought to be pragmatic and focused on doing the best for citizens on both sides. Awkwardly for him, he has his own deadline extension request — on the time limit for ratification of the Christmas Eve deal on the EU side.

11 January
Global Britain, Global Broker
A Blueprint for the UK’s Future International Role
Chatham House Director (and CEO) Dr Robin Niblett CMG sets out a proposed blueprint for Britain’s future foreign policy. Rather than reincarnate itself as a miniature great power, he argues that the country has the chance to remain internationally influential if it serves as the broker of solutions to global challenges.
The paper lays out six international goals for the UK that offer the best points of connection between its interests, resources and credibility. These are: protecting liberal democracy; promoting international peace and security; tackling climate change; enabling greater global health resilience; championing global tax transparency and equitable economic growth; and defending cyberspace.
In pursuit of these goals, the UK will need to invest in and leverage its unique combination of diplomatic reach, diverse security capabilities and prominence in international development. It should use these assets to link together liberal democracies and, where possible, engage alongside them with other countries that are willing to address shared international challenges constructively.

2 January
Boris Johnson would lose majority and seat in election tomorrow – poll
Results suggest public are deeply unhappy with the government’s handling of Covid and Brexit
(The Guardian) The poll predicts that if a general election were held tomorrow neither the Conservatives nor Labour would win an outright majority. Disturbingly for Boris Johnson, the survey says the Conservatives would lose 81 seats, wiping out the 80-seat majority they won in December 2019.
It gives the first detailed insight into the public’s perception of Johnson’s handling of the Brexit talks and the pandemic, amid fears that Britain is heading into a third national lockdown.

1 January
Britain Has Lost Itself
My grandparents, who fled Nazi Germany for Britain, would be heartbroken to see the country today.
By Peter Gumbel, author of “Citizens of Everywhere.”
(NYT) Inward, polarized and absurdly self-aggrandizing, Britain has lost itself. In sorrow, I mourn the passing of the country that was my family’s salvation.

2020

30 December
With little ado, a divided United Kingdom casts off into the Brexit unknown
(Reuters) -The United Kingdom left the European Union’s orbit on Thursday, turning its back on a tempestuous 48-year liaison with the European project for an uncertain post-Brexit future in its most significant geopolitical shift since the loss of empire.
5 reasons the UK failed in Brexit talks
Tony Blair’s former chief of staff argues the UK has performed disastrously in Brexit negotiations.
(Politico Eu) I have spent the last forty years involved in international negotiations of one sort or another, and I have never seen a British government perform worse than they did in the four years of negotiations that concluded with the Christmas Eve Brexit agreement.
Leaving aside the rights and wrongs of Brexit, purely in terms of negotiating technique, it is an object lesson in how not to do it. As the bluster and self-congratulation dies down, it is worth standing back and looking at what we can learn from the debacle.

29 December
Dire straits: The Rock faces a hard Brexit as Gibraltar talks drag on
Spanish foreign minister sends warning shot to London over post-Brexit Gibraltar.
The Spanish government is pushing for Gibraltar to join the passport-free Schengen zone, as first reported by POLITICO. The U.K. has accepted the idea of some sort of relationship between Gibraltar and Schengen, according to an official familiar with the talks, but is concerned about a potential loss of sovereignty as a result.

27 December
10 key details in the UK-EU trade deal
What the agreement says about financial services, state aid and more.
Now comes the scramble to work out what it means for individuals and businesses — and, inevitably, lawyers — across 28 countries. The deal itself is 1,246 pages long, but there are summaries, side agreements and additional political declarations on a range of sensitive issues to consider, too.
Shorthand comparisons are of little use. It’s not that helpful, experts say, to compare to deals struck between the European Union and Canada, for example, because the EU-U.K. agreement is unlike any other trade deal the bloc has struck with another country.

24 December
Boris Johnson hails free trade deal with EU
(BBC) The EU and UK have reached a post-Brexit trade deal, ending months of disagreements over fishing rights and future business rules.
At a Downing Street press conference, Boris Johnson said: “We have taken back control of our laws and our destiny.”
The text of the agreement has yet to be released, but the PM claimed it was a “good deal for the whole of Europe”.
The UK is set to exit EU trading rules next Thursday – a year after officially leaving the 27 nation bloc.
It will mean big changes for business, with the UK and EU forming two separate markets, and the end of free movement.
Brexit: What you need to know about the UK leaving the EU
(BBC) the UK and European Union finally agreed a deal that will define their future relationship.
Ever since the UK left the EU on 31 January, both sides have been talking about what the new rules should be.
The negotiations went to the wire, as the current arrangement ends on 31 December.
The deal contains new rules for how the UK and EU will live, work and trade together. But we don’t know a lot of the detail yet because the full document – expected to be well over 1,000 pages long – has not been released.
What we do know is that it means:
No taxes on each other’s goods when they cross borders (known as tariffs)
No limits on the amount of things which can be traded (known as quotas)

2 December
UK’s hopes of early US trade deal dashed by Biden warning
President-elect says his priority is to invest in US manufacturing and protect American workers
Britain’s hopes of securing an early trade deal with the US have been dashed by a warning from Joe Biden, the president-elect, that America will not sign a trade deal with anyone until the US has sorted out its competitiveness.
Britain had been closing in on a trade deal with the administration of Donald Trump, a fierce opponent of the European Union, but Biden has said in a New York Times interview that his priority will be to improve investment in US manufacturing and the protection of Amerian workers.
“I’m not going to enter any new trade agreement with anybody until we have made major investments here at home and in our workers and in education,” he said.
Some supporters of Brexit had touted a US trade deal as one of the early benefits of leaving the EU and its customs union, although the economic value of such a deal had been questioned.

24 October
Johnson will wait for US election result before no-deal Brexit decision
Ivan Rogers, former UK ambassador to the EU, says prime minister will think ‘history was going his way’ if Donald Trump is re-elected
(The Guardian) Ivan Rogers, who was the UK’s permanent representative in Brussels from 2013 to 2017, told the Observer that a view shared by ministers and officials he has talked to in recent weeks in several European capitals, is that Johnson is biding his time – and is much more likely to opt for no deal if his friend and Brexit supporter Donald Trump prevails over the Democratic challenger, Joe Biden.
Rogers said that if Trump won he and others in Europe believed Johnson would think “history was going his way” with his right-wing ally still in the White House. The prime minister would therefore be more likely to conclude he could strike a quick and substantial post-Brexit US-UK trade deal than if Biden emerged as president after the 3 November poll. By contrast, a Biden administration would prioritise rebuilding relations with the EU that have been damaged by Trump.
Rogers joined other former UK diplomats last night in warning that a Democratic administration under Biden would prove hugely problematic for Johnson and the UK government, threatening the so-called special relationship. “I don’t think either Biden or his core team are anti-British, but I think they are unimpressed by both Johnson and his top team,” he said.
Biden’s would simply not be an administration which viewed European integration as a negative.
“The UK’s absence from the EU will make it clearly less influential because it can no longer lead European thinking on the geo-strategic issues which will matter hugely to Biden. So [Biden] will put Berlin and Paris – and indeed Brussels – back at the heart of US thinking: not uncritically, because the US will still have serious issues with EU approaches on economic and security issues..”

19 October
UK refuses to restart Brexit talks despite EU accepting its demands
No 10 unmoved even after Barnier’s offer prompts Gove to make U-turn at dispatch box
(The Guardian) A No 10 spokesman said the prime minister had noted the EU’s offer to “intensify” the talks during a call between Barnier and his British counterpart on Monday but insisted there remained no basis yet to resume the negotiation.
The spokesman said: “This was a constructive discussion. The UK has noted the EU’s proposal to genuinely intensify talks, which is what would be expected at this stage in a negotiation. However, the UK continues to believe there is no basis to resume talks unless there is a fundamental change of approach from the EU.
“This means an EU approach consistent with trying to find an agreement between sovereign equals and with acceptance that movement needs to come from the EU side as well as the UK. The two teams agreed to remain in close touch.”
The knockback means the Brexit standoff continues, with just four weeks left in which worthwhile negotiations may be conducted in pursuit of a comprehensive trade deal before the parliamentary ratification process will need to begin.

14 October
Letter from the U.K.
How the Second Wave of the Pandemic Has Challenged Boris Johnson’s Leadership
The coronavirus has been merciless in its exposure of Johnson’s limits as a politician and of his government as a whole.
(The New Yorker) Six months into the pandemic, the British government’s handling of COVID-19 is not dissimilar to what it was in the spring. A lot has happened, to be sure. At least fifty-seven thousand three hundred and forty-seven people have died of the disease; the economy has cratered. But the over-all strategy for dealing with the virus remains late, oddly complicated, and undermined by a dull, nagging incompetence. An hour after Johnson finished a televised address alongside Britain’s chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, to explain the virtues of the new tiered system, officials quietly released minutes from the country’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, a panel of independent scientists that has been guiding the government throughout the crisis. The minutes showed that the critical moment to prevent Britain’s second wave has probably already passed.

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