A classically forthright Andrea Jenkyns raked in the retweets on Sunday evening, calling for No Deal with the EU, saying “No more talking or moved deadlines, let’s just leave without a deal.”
Yet, as Politeia’s Jonathan Isaby points out, Jenkins is Parliamentary Private Secretary to Robert Jenrick and is therefore regarded as an (albeit junior) member of the government payroll vote and bound by collective responsibility. Guido doubts No Deal is now official Government policy…
“The Prime Minister spoke to Commission President Ursula von der Leyen this evening about the state of play in the UK / EU negotiations.
“The Prime Minister underlined that the negotiations were now in a serious situation. Time was very short and it now looked very likely that agreement would not be reached unless the EU position changed substantially.
“He said that we were making every effort to accommodate reasonable EU requests on the level playing field, but even though the gap had narrowed some fundamental areas remained difficult.
“On fisheries he stressed that the UK could not accept a situation where it was the only sovereign country in the world not to be able to control access to its own waters for an extended period and to be faced with fisheries quotas which hugely disadvantaged its own industry. The EU’s position in this area was simply not reasonable and if there was to be an agreement it needed to shift significantly.
“The Prime Minister repeated that little time was left. He said that, if no agreement could be reached, the UK and the EU would part as friends, with the UK trading with the EU on Australian-style terms.
“The leaders agreed to remain in close contact.”
Updating the European Parliament this morning, Ursula von der Leyen has acknowledged there is now – however narrow – a path to an agreement. While, she admits, the level playing field and fisheries remain the major sticking points, the level playing field governance issues are “largely being resolved”.
The tiny crack of light from the EU side comes as Newsnight’s Nick Watt reported last night there is a “Big buzz in the last hour among Tory MPs that the UK is heading towards a Brexit deal with the EU. Eurosceptics being reassured they will be happy.”
“Brexiteers being reassured that the UK has seen off unilateral punishment by the EU if the UK diverges from EU standards in future – the “lightening tariffs”. They are being told UK has negotiated a joint dispute mechanism. That could lead to punishment if one side loses”
It now looks like the first sign of a deal will come if Jacob Rees-Mogg announces that the commons will sit on Monday and Tuesday next week. Boris also moved to reassure Brexiteers last night, Whatsapping MPs “Never fear folks we will vindicate the people in full or else as I have said many times we will start the new year wto terms!”
After last night’s far-from-conclusive meal between Boris and von der Leyen, the EU has this morning unveiled a four-point contingency proposal for the event of a no-deal outcome by the 31st December. Boldly, in the event of no-deal the EU wants reciprocal fishing rights for a year, meaning European boats could continue fishing in British waters.
“A proposal for a Regulation to create the appropriate legal framework until 31 December 2021, or until a fisheries agreement with the UK has been concluded – whichever date is earlier – for continued reciprocal access by EU and UK vessels to each other’s waters after 31 December 2020”
While in the event of no-deal tariffs on goods between the UK and EU will be introduced, the Commission wants bare minimum plans in place to facilitate air travel, aviation safety and basic road connectivity for freight in for around six months, during which time they hope new negotiations could find permanent solutions. Note the EU wants a year’s access to British fishing waters versus just six months of air passenger safety regulations – Guido isn’t sure their priorities are the right way round…
In a marked turn of events from last year, Labour is planning to for once back a Brexit deal in the House of Commons. Despite Starmer’s designed-to-be-failed ‘six tests’ ruse last year, Labour is now gearing up to vote for a deal, marketing the decision as “the only way to stop no deal“. Directly lifting the phrase from Theresa May in the dying days of her administration: “the only way to stop No Deal is to vote for a deal”…
Shadow Cabinet Office Minister Rachel Reeves, after many muddled approaches to Brexit so far this year, addressed the Parliamentary Labour Party last night finally with an actual position. LabourList’s Sienna Rodgers reported that Reeves said voting for a deal “would be a platform for building on, and would show Labour is listening to voters.” After four long years of Sir Keir leading efforts to ignore voters.
The news comes as Irish Taoiseach Micheál Martin let slip that negotiators are working on “texts now in all areas”, including the familiar areas of fishing and state aid. In eyebrow raising comments, he added “I would be hopeful that by the end of this week we could see the outline of a deal.” A more positive view of chances for a deal than many in London think. Boris and Ursula Von Der Leyen are set for a formal meeting later this week…