Brexit Brief: Negotiations Pick Up the Pace. Will They Gain Momentum?

Posted on 22nd August 2018

Even more Brexit negotiations

Brexit negotiations will accelerate dramatically, now moving from discrete rounds of monthly talks to one long set of ongoing talks in a bid to resolve outstanding issues before the next European Council summit in October. Talks have foundered on the issue of the Irish border, where the European Commission’s proposals — and Britain’s counter-proposals — for cross-border arrangements have failed to gain traction. Both sides say they wish to avoid a return to a border in the island of Ireland while also respecting the UK’s desire to operate an independent trade policy. Speaking after the announcement, EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier said a deal, while in view,  must be signed “not later than early November” for ratification by member states. He added that the challenge for the next few weeks was establishing “a partnership that has no precedent”, though he repeated the EU red line that all but rules out such a partnership: “This partnership has to respect the single market and the foundations of the European project.”

Corbyn’s labouring over Brexit

The UK’s main opposition, the Labour Party, is facing increasing pressure to become more supportive of a new Brexit referendum. Labour’s sister party, the Co-operative Party, are set to vote on whether to back a second referendum this autumn and their 38-MP caucus within Labour will place more pressure on Corbyn to amend his stance on Brexit, highlighting that the party is becoming increasingly divided on the issue. Brexit tensions will come to a head at this year’s party conference. Adding to Labour’s woes, a new poll suggests Labour could lose a significant chunk of voters if it supports Brexit, leaving it 9 percentage points behind the Conservatives — although opposing Brexit would also see it lose support, falling to 4 points behind. 

UK offers unilateral guarantee to EU citizens post-Brexit

Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab has said that the UK will “move swiftly” to safeguard the rights of future EU citizens in the event of a no-deal scenario. Raab said it would be “inconceivable” that EU citizens living in the UK would be “turfed out.” He indicated that the EU must work to match the UK’s ‘ambition and pragmatism’ if a Brexit deal is to be reached. Aiming to occupy the moral high ground, he reiterated that: “We value their position, and we want [EU citizens] to stay. It’s inconceivable that we would do anything other than make sure that they are legally in a position where they are secure to stay.” This is the first time the British government have promised they would act unilaterally to protect EU citizens’ rights, having previously tied such guarantees to a reciprocal deal with the European Union.

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