UK plan to legislate 2020 EU departure revives no-deal Brexit fears
Will Waters | Tuesday, 17 December 2019
But a specialist said the move was largely symbolic, because Johnson’s majority means that if he did later need to, he could introduce another law that would reverse the new provision and allow an extension
UK prime minister Boris Johnson has been accused of “reckless and irresponsible behaviour” after he vowed to amend his Brexit withdrawal legislation to prevent MPs extending the Brexit transition period beyond the end of 2020.
The move caused the value of Sterling to drop against currencies including the euro and US dollar because it revives the possibility of a ‘no-deal’ exit, this time at the end of 2020.
However, a key specialist this morning said the move was largely symbolic, because Johnson’s majority in the House of Commons means that if he did later need to, he could introduce another law that would reverse the new provision and allow an extension.
Sam Lowe, a senior research fellow from the Centre for European Reform and a member of the UK government’s Strategic Trade Advisory Group told the BBC this morning that he did not believe the move would make much difference to the chances of a no deal, also noting that it would be a different kind of no-deal from the one threatened earlier this year, because the arrangements for Northern Ireland and citizens’ rights had already been agreed.
Asked whether a free trade agreement could be reached next year, he said it was “possible”, but that would require the UK to make certain compromises. What the EU would most likely ask for is “non-regression” on environmental and social policy, and alignment on competition rules, and also some access to fishing rights.
On whether the UK would make those kinds of compromises, he said that if you look at recent history, the pattern in the negotiations between the UK and the EU has been that the EU will give a little, but that would require the UK to give a lot.
And on the question of whether Johnson wants a deal, he said the indications, based on recent events, were that he does want an agreement.