EU ‘anxious’ over consequences of UK leaving and Boris has ‘more to gain’, claims expert

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Professor Anand Menon, director of the UK in a Changing Europe claimed “negotiations to date do not seem to have revealed much in the way of a desire to compromise on the part of either side”. It comes after the European Union’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier said a deal looked “unlikely” and that the two sides remained at a stalemate following the conclusion of a recent round of talks yesterday.

Mr Barnier said that several obstacles remain in the way of a successful outcome including the ‘level playing field’ and fishing rights.

David Frost, the UK’s chief negotiator, also confirmed there was a continued impasse.

But Professor Menon stressed there were reasons to take the negative remarks from the two sides “with a pinch of salt”.

He added: “The EU is keen that negotiations succeed – if only because they are anxious to minimise the economic consequences of Britain leaving.

“On the British side, the incentive to come to some kind of agreement is, if anything, even greater.

“Politically, the Prime Minister has more to gain from signing a deal than from not signing one.

“If you think back to last autumn, he was hailed as some sort of latter day Messiah for agreeing to essentially the same deal with the EU that Mrs. May had rejected out of hand.”

Professor Menon stressed if Mr Johnson signed an agreement now then it would all but guarantee a “hero’s welcome” for him.

He claimed if the Prime Minister managed to reach a deal, he would be known as the man who achieved the “seemingly impossible not once, but twice”.

Professor Menon added of a deal being reached: “In so doing will spare businesses already dreading the impact of Brexit the added problems implied by tariffs and quotas.

“And of course both sides are consequent of the broader political implications.”

Turning to a no deal, the director of UK in a Changing Europe stressed relations between the UK and the 27 EU nations would descend into “a cycle of recrimination and counter-recrimination” in the event of a new deal as each side would “blame each other for failure”.

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He added: “Under such circumstances, even limited cooperation with European states on matters ranging from China to Iran would become far more difficult.

“At a time of growing international tensions, not least with China, this is hardly a preferred outcome anywhere.”

Concluding, the professor claimed that a deal is “clearly possible” saying there were ways around the level playing field that would allow the EU to retaliate in response to any drop in British standards.

Meanwhile, fishing waters could be resolved by allowing the EU to have access to UK fishing waters with a “smaller quota”.

However, Professor Menon aired on the side of caution, and stressed: “None of which, of course, guarantees a deal will be agreed in time.

“The pandemic has meant that very little political attention is being paid to Brexit.

“And a second wave in the autumn would mean that this is the case at the very moment when such attention will be necessary to make the compromises necessary to unlock the talks.

“Things, in other words, could still easily go wrong. So yes, the Government might be warning us to get ready for the worst.

“This might prove an effective way of making us get ready for the best (which is not all that much better).

“But let’s not kid ourselves. There is time left for a deal to be done, and both sides will strive their utmost to make sure they do it.”

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