The pressure to secure a deal over Britain’s withdrawal from the EU is intensifying as only seven months are left before Britain is scheduled to withdraw from the European Union.
The challenge for Prime Minister Theresa May is twofold now as the British lawmakers return from their summer recess this week. Not only she has to negotiate a withdrawal agreement with the European Union within the next few months but also has to push it through a divided legislature and her fractious Conservative Party.
An anti-EU hard-liners group in her faction has already denounced an excruciating negotiation agreed by her cabinet in July, threatening to leave the U.K in the subjugation of EU courts and protocols. Subsequently, both sides fast-tracked their preparations in case the discussion nose dives, a situation that would create an upheaval in the two-way commerce.
Last week’s developments appeared to be more optimistic. The EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, and Dominic Raab, Brexit Secretary conducted a meeting that lasted for six hours in Brussels on Friday, aimed to resolve the lingering issues regarding withdrawal agreement and on outlining the future economic relationship that will be discussed once Britain exits the syndicate. The chances are likely that it would happen during the 21-month transition period in which the economic relations will remain unchanged.
Mr. Barnier emphasized on the progress that was being made on the security relationship in the future, with plans for information exchange, judicial cooperation, expatriation arrangements and the allied fight against terror financing and money laundering. He further revealed that the positions were getting narrower too on the terms of the exit.
He said, “You can see that week after week and step by step we are eliminating subjects, bones of contention.”
Although the bigger issues remain unresolved concerning U.K.’s withdrawal terms. Most importantly, both the parties need to bridge the differences on how to legally assure Britain’s assurance to forestall a hard border between Northern Ireland, currently a part of the U.K., and the Republic of Ireland, which will continue to be an EU member.
He further added, “This backstop is critical, because…with no backstop, there will be no agreement.”
As per the EU officials, the British proposition will prove to be sacrificial for the EU economy, providing British firms with a biased competitive advantage by allowing them to ease the rules on services. They believe that it would destabilize the EU’s strategic move in the negotiations: that Britain can’t pick out access to the single market by cherry-picking the EU rules and principles.
In a weekend interview, Mr. Barnier expressed his opposition to the British proposal.
He said, “If we let the British cherry-pick which of our regulations to follow that would have serious consequences…That would be the end of the single market and the European project.”
It has led to the assumptions that the EU will provide a vague but ambitious sounding outline of the future economic relationship, that can potentially provide political cover to Mrs. May aiding her to accept the remaining EU demands on Northern Ireland and other issues that continue to remain unresolved in the withdrawal deal.
The next major obstacle for Mrs. May can come in the form of the Conservative Party conference that will commence at the end of this month. She will probably face the wrath of her party delegates unhappy with the July proposal.
The conference will further provide a platform for the former foreign secretary and prominent Eurosceptic who resigned in July, Boris Johnson, to represent himself as a potential inheritor to Mrs. May, believes the Professor of Politics at Queen Mary University in London, Tim Bale.