Discussion in 'The War Room' started by Arkain2K, Jul 23, 2019.
This one hurts to read
Revealed: the EU's point-by-point rejection of Johnson's Brexit plan
Exclusive: Leaked papers obtained by the Guardian show extent of fundamental objections Brussels has raised
The disclosure follows the prime minister’s claim on Monday that he had not yet heard the EU’s thoughts on the legal text tabled by Downing Street, under which a customs border would be reimposed on the island of Ireland.
Under the draft text, which the UK has not published in full, Northern Ireland would stay in the EU’s single market for goods and electricity if Stormont consents, giving the DUP a veto before the arrangement comes into force and then every four years.
The confidential report chronicling the latest negotiations reveals:
The British have been warned that the proposed Stormont veto provides the DUP with an opportunity to block the all-Ireland regulatory zone from ever materialising.
The proposals for a customs border were said to risk a major disruption of the all-Ireland economy. EU negotiators have pointed out that it has been rejected by groups representing Northern Irish business.
The UK is seeking a fallback of no controls, checks and border infrastructure, even if the DUP vetoes Northern Ireland’s alignment with the single market. The bloc’s internal market would be left wide open for abuse, the European commission has said in its rejection of the proposal.
The UK’s proposal leaves it up to a joint EU-UK committee to work out how to avoid customs checks and infrastructure near the Irish border once there are two customs territories and sets of rules on the island of Ireland, without offering a plan B if no such solution is agreed.
The UK has called for reform of the common transit convention so as to avoid the need for new infrastructure in the shape of transit offices on either side of the border for the scanning of goods that have passed through multiple territories. Brussels has refused as it would lead other non-EU countries to seek similar exemptions, endangering the internal market.
The text affords what is seen as an unacceptable wholesale exemption for small and medium-sized businesses from customs duties and processes, but it fails to provide details on how to then combat smuggling.
On VAT, the British negotiators were told that the proposals fail to offer any solutions as to how to avoid payments and checks at the border.
Under the UK’s proposals all the state aid and level-playing-field conditions Theresa May agreed to in order to reassure the EU that Northern Ireland businesses would not enjoy a competitive advantage have been deleted. But Northern Irish firms would still be able to compete in the single market for electricity.
The UK would have access to an unlisted number of EU databases to allow it to police the customs border on the island of Ireland and the regulatory border between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Whitehall would maintain such access even if the DUP vetoed alignment with the single market.
The EU’s hard-hitting rebuff was delivered to Frost on Friday and Monday, according to the leaked report, which was compiled following a briefing of EU diplomats by the commission.
The message had been passed on to Johnson in a series of phone calls with EU leaders over the weekend, during which Downing Street was left clear that the legal text did not form the basis for serious negotiation.
Following Monday’s discussions between Frost and the commission’s negotiating team, a UK government spokesman said it had offered the clarity that had been sought on the proposals.
Frost is understood to be staying in Brussels on Monday night but the EU has not yet agreed to negotiate on the detail, given what sources described as the “fundamental flaws”.
The British government spokesman said: “Following hours of discussions last week, the UK provided additional legal text today. This provided further technical detail on customs and goods regulations to further clarify how the UK’s proposals would operate.”
EU sources scoffed at claims coming out of Downing Street that a “counter-offer” could be expected from Brussels in the coming days. “It is the UK that wants to replace the backstop – and that is our solution,” said one senior EU diplomat.
On Monday, the Brexit secretary, Stephen Barclay, met with the Dutch foreign minister, Stef Blok, who tweeted: “Frank & honest discussion today with Steve Barclay. As good neighbours do.
“Important questions still remain on UK Brexit proposals and more realism and clarity necessary this week. Full support for Michel Barnier.”
An EU commission spokeswoman said the EU27 remained of the opinion that the UK had failed to offer an alternative to the Irish backstop, which would avoid a hard border by keeping Northern Ireland in the single market and the EU’s customs territory.
She said: “We all agree that we need a workable solution now and not something based on untried and revokable arrangements that would be left to negotiation during the transition period.
“The UK’s proposals do not meet at present the objectives of the protocol on Northern Ireland/Ireland and this is the shared view of the EU parliament but also all member states.”
Only one third of UK voters thinks the UK should crash out with No Deal if no agreement with EU found this month
Memo from 'No 10 contact' seen as fresh play in blame game
Text attributed to Dominic Cummings is riddled with misunderstandings of how EU works
Daniel Boffey in Brussels
Tue 8 Oct 2019 10.43 BSTLast modified on Tue 8 Oct 2019 11.20 BST
British policy is not usually transmitted to Brussels through a 700-word text message via a journalist. But Brexit works in wonderful ways – and EU officials are not at all convinced, anyway, that the monologue in question, attributed to Boris Johnson’s chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, is really aimed at them.
On Monday evening, shortly after the EU’s comprehensive point-by-point deconstruction of the British proposals was published by the Guardian, the Spectator’s political editor, James Forsyth, made public a text he had received from a “contact in Number 10” on the state of play.
The No 10 official admitted to Forsyth – who works with Cummings’ wife, Mary Wakefield, at the Spectator – that the talks in Brussels would probably end this week as “[Leo] Varadkar doesn’t want to negotiate”.
Ireland’s prime minister was said to have “gone back on his word” by attacking the British government’s proposals rather than shifting the EU’s position in response to British moves on an all-Ireland regulatory zone for goods.
Varadkar was said to be gambling on a second referendum, and was pulling the strings of the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier.
“At the end of this week they may say: ‘OK, let’s do a Northern Ireland-only backstop with a time limit’, which is what various players have been hinting at, then we’ll say no, and that will probably be the end,” Forsyth’s Downing Street source wrote.
The text message’s verbose author goes on to claim that the result would be one of two outcomes: no deal on 31 October or a general election, in which the Conservative party morphs into the Brexit party, promising to deliver no deal.
The view in Brussels is that the message was not intended for EU consumption. In part that is because it is riddled with misunderstandings of how the EU works.
In securing the first outcome of a no deal on 31 October, the writer appears to admit there is no legal avenue to avoid the prime minister seeking an extension by 19 October.
The Downing Street source puts his faith in threats. Any member state who acquiesces to such an extension request will go to the “back of the queue” when it comes to future cooperation “both within and outside EU competences”. A mysteriously redacted threat over defence and security is also made.
The problem here is twofold: agreement on an extension will be done by unanimity. There won’t be any member states to pick off. The lesson of the unlikely but steadfast unity of the EU27 on Brexit has not been learned. Perhaps he, or she, is new to the ball game?
The second mistake is to believe that threats over withdrawing security cooperation really have any impact. The UK is a member of Nato. Is Downing Street threatening to undermine that multilateral institution too? The defence of Europe against external threats, including Russia, has always been seen as being in the national interest. Similar threats were made and retracted by Theresa May’s government in 2017 given the pointlessness in making them.
The Downing Street source goes on to suggest that the UK will be a truculent and damaging member state if it remains in the EU beyond 31 October. “Everything to do with ‘duty of sincere cooperation’ will be in the toilet,” the No 10 aide writes.
Unfortunately, for the writer there is very little of great importance until June next year, when the EU’s budget is likely to be put to a vote over which the UK could wield its veto. The UK has never been the easiest member state anyway. Should Johnson seek to frustrate the law of the land on agreeing and enacting the terms of the extension, he will be breaking it. The supreme court and the Scottish court of session has been clear.
Given that it is highly likely that much of this is appreciated in Downing Street, EU sources instead see the text message as yet another play in the blame game so central to Johnson’s hopes of winning a majority in the now inevitable general election.
It is increasingly the view in Brussels that the legal text tabled by Johnson on the Irish border was written for rejection, and this text appears to prove it. It is time for Johnson to shout betrayal, and hope the voters believe him.
I'm so shocked these talks have broken down.........
im starting to wonder what the EU is actually waiting for. is the plan just to wait until brexit totally fails and they quit trying to leave?
The EU doesn't want to be the party (so far) to officially tell Boris to get lost and end the talks in order not to be viewed as the ones who did not negotiate in good faith (and, in fact, they are not the ones).
Boris Johnson, on the other hand, needs to blame the EU in order to be able to push no deal Brexit through in British public opinion. I think he is still hoping for a no confidence vote. He is already in full campaign mode, his minions like @ShadowRun who is simply parroting campaign posts are, as well. And it's working, Tories would win the election due to the first-past-the-post system. But 2 out of 3 Brits currently oppose a short-term no deal exit.
Thanks for your opinion
I aim to please
Michael Gove with the Freudian slip:
We in this government have compromised. We in this government are showing flexibility. We in this government seek to leave without a deal.
The UK expected that the threat of a no-deal Brexit would make the whole EU cave in to their demands. Turns out that, between the economical impact and the Irish situation, it's pretty obviously the UK that has the most to lose without a deal. The UK made a democratic choice but, regardless of one's opinion on that choice, it's blatant that the UK used extremely poor judgement and tactics while trying to deliver Brexit.
The EU isn't waiting for anything, it's the UK that asked for extensions while blocking every possible solution at the same time.
But there is a deal. And if the UK understood the Ireland problem and why the EU cannot go back on its red lines, we would have Brexit already.
Personally, I can't wait for an action-packed Westminster-Dublin co-sponsored and legally-binding Northern Ireland's Irish-or-U.K vote.
Actually, perhaps it should have been held already, between the Scottish Independent referendum and the Brexit one, then we wouldn't have this left-over "Irish problem" at all.
That's wishful thinking I am afraid. The wounds there run deeper than what could be resolved with a single democratic vote.
The UK is such a mess.
I don't see this ending well no matter what happens.
The UK has a long history of negotiating badly with Europe, especially Germany. Which always leads to disasters. Not just in the 20th century either. But the Congress of Vienna, where Britain got crumbs while Prussia became a superpower. Then Parliament (and the Royal Family) betrayed Hanover when Prussia annexed them later. Will they do the same with Northern Ireland? Labour/Lib Dems certainly would.
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