The Strategist

Brexit agreement stalls because of the contradictions between London and Brussels

09/26/2018 - 16:00

The Labor Party Congress is being held in Liverpool on September 23 - 26. Its main theme is Brexit, and on Tuesday the party members voted for its way of settling the deal with the EU. As a result, it was decided to suggest holding a new referendum on leaving the EU. The Labor Party will lobby the approved option in the course of further discussion about the future of Great Britain in Europe.

The party’s leader Jeremy Corbin calls early elections preferable. According to the plan, the next vote should be held only in 2022, but Labor wants to hold it in the coming months. Against the backdrop of Theresa May's failures in negotiations with Brussels, they expect to get a majority in parliament. If they succeed, adopting a new Brexit plan will be much easier for them.

The probability of a repeated referendum increases in case of Labor coming to power. Although Jeremy Corbin earlier emphasized that his party did not call for a second vote, the majority of his fellow party members believes that the UK citizens have to reconsider their choice and vote once again. The main thing is what question will be put in a referendum this time. 

Talks about new ways to reach a deal with Brussels came to a new stage after European leaders criticized Theresa May's plan at an informal summit of heads of state and government of the EU in Salzburg on Friday. French President Emmanuel Macron noted that London's proposals in the existing form "are not acceptable, especially with regard to the economic sphere." Chairman of the European Council Donald Tusk called the position of the British prime minister "surprisingly tough and virtually uncompromising." 
In July, the UK government approved the White Paper, that is, a "soft plan" for secession. In particular, it presupposes t creation of a free trade zone between the UK and the EU.

On Monday, the government approved a new immigration strategy: if free trade is still in force, European citizens will not be given priority to entry into the country.

The conditions may change, but now it is planned to give priority in obtaining visas to highly qualified migrants irrespective of their citizenship.

Participants in the meeting in Salzburg noted that the movement of labor should remain free. There are no agreements between Brussels and London on establishing borders with Northern Ireland. This British region voted against Brexit in a referendum in 2016 and now demands a special protocol of relations with the EU. London believes that this is impossible without establishment of stricter boundaries between Northern Ireland and the rest of Britain, and both sides do not want this. Donald Tusk was peremptory:

The Irish question remains our priority... It requires something more than just good intentions. We need strong, clear and precise guarantees," the chairman of the European Council said, and expressed hope that the parties will come to a compromise in October.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, in turn, admitted at the summit that Brussels has already prepared for a failed deal with London.

Apparently, Theresa May does not intend exacerbate the situation, although she admits that the negotiations have "stalled". "Donald Tusk said that our proposals undermine the united market. He did not explain how, and did not make a counteroffer. Therefore, we are at an impasse," summed up the British prime minister, adding that the White Paper remains the only serious and credible proposal "and that "it is unacceptable to reject proposals of the other party without detailed explanation or counter-proposals." At the same time, on Monday, she announced that she would soon submit new arrangements on the borders with Northern Ireland. She does not agree to early elections, and the Brexit Minister Dominique Raab rejected the possibility of holding them as well.

The Daily Telegraph newspaper reported on Monday that the majority of Theresa May’s cabinet members are inclined to abandon the Brexit plan, and intend to inform the Prime minister about this. On the same day, the Institute for Economic Affairs presented a new Brexit plan, the presentation of which was attended by ex-Minister for Brexit affairs David Davis and Conservative Party member Jacob Rees-Mogg.

The Institute proposed to conclude a deal following the example of the EU-Canada agreement. In this case, the UK will get freedom in matters of domestic and trade policy, but most customs duties between the country and the EU will be lifted. It is also recommended that the UK join the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).