The chance of readiness by the October EU summit is nilby Jonathan Lis / April 12, 2018 / Leave a comment
Sometimes in life the hardest truths are simultaneously the hardest to avoid and the hardest to confront. In Brexit the hardest truth is also the plainest: we must extend the entire process.
Brexit appears to have done the unthinkable in recent weeks, and disappeared from the headlines. Since the European Union summit at the end of March, news has been fleeting, and overshadowed by international events. But while developments have paused, the clock has not. We are now just six months from the October summit, when the entire deal must be signed off—and in many ways no closer to our destination now than the day we started the journey.
Each day, new minor revelations serve to remind us that the government is locked in a battle with reality itself. Brexit secretary David Davis still affirms that a full trade deal can be more or less fully concluded in six months, despite the average free trade agreement (FTA) requiring many years of intricate negotiation, and offering far less than the services access he is seeking. The UK’s wish to diverge from its new trade partner rather than more closely integrate with it actually complicates, not facilitates, the process. As some of us have noted for almost a year, Davis’s most extraordinary feature is not that he routinely delivers such Panglossian braggadocio, but that he really believes it. Needless to say, the EU does not.
Away from the all-consuming demand of the EU trade deal, hundreds of existing international agreements must still be signed off or re-negotiated with third countries before the transition period begins next March. The EU has requested that the UK be treated as part of the bloc until 2020, but i…