Brexit’s Final Curtain Approaches

As 2020 draws to a close, the final curtain of the four and a half year long Brexit drama is now in sight. Great Britain will leave the European Union at 11:00 PM, 31 January, 2020. The largest unknown at the moment is whether or not the two sides complete a post-Brexit trade deal. Time is running out, as is patience as both sides struggle to get a deal in place before the end of the year. Deal or not, Britain is leaving the EU. With that said, it is in the interest of both parties to reach an agreement. Not doing so will bring the prospect of economic damage and border disruptions as a second wave of COVID-19 cases grips Europe.

Today, the European Parliament has set a Sunday deadline for negotiators to reach a post-Brexit trade deal. In light of the coming Christmas vacation, ratifying an agreement beyond Sunday will be difficult for the parliament. The chief EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has said it will be “difficult but possible” to have a deal wrapped up by Friday. His view is certainly the minority opinion. Most other British and EU officials close to the negotiations, and were willing to speak off camera, believe a no-deal outcome is most probable.

Despite the cynicism of many diplomats and politicians, economic news has been largely positive today. European stocks and markets rose on hopes of a trade deal. The optimism was even found in currency markets where the pound and euro were trading strongly against the dollar. The solid economic performance is not likely to last for much longer unless a trade deal comes about. Should the year end without one, European markets will be the first to feel the pinch as yet another wave of uncertainty will arrive.

Brexit Negotiations Continue With No Progress Made Yet

European Union and British Union Jack flag flying in front of Bi

With three weeks remaining until the United Kingdom officially separates from the European Union, negotiations continue on in hopes of preventing a hard Brexit. Today, a proposal put forth by EU negotiator Michel Barnier brought little enthusiasm from Theresa May or members of her government. The proposal was crafted in large part to bring an end to the concerns surrounding the Irish backstop, and help reassure the British government that the border between Ireland (EU Member) and Northern Ireland (UK) will be managed properly post-Brexit.

Theresa May was unmoved by the proposal, and the reaction from other British colleagues was similar. The proposal is not seen as being enough to overcome the large amount of opposition remaining in British parliament to the UK-EU divorce deal. Negotiations between EU and UK officials will carry on over the weekend. Time is running short, and anxiety is starting to build. On Friday 29 March, 2019 Great Britain will leave the European Union. It still remains to be seen if the departure will be hard or soft. The anxiety surrounding this is what’s responsible for causing the anxiety in Britain, across Europe, and around the world.

May is feeling the pressure to get the divorce deal passed through parliament soon. Time is running out, and even with renewed negotiations with the EU, it appears quite unlikely that Brussels will amend the deal further.

 

*Author’s note: Short write up this evening. Apologies. I’ll try and make up for it over the weekend*