An international assessment of the UK government’s Brexit talks with the European Union is set to publish today.
But the government is expected to be quick to make its position clear that it is in no mood to compromise, writes Simon Reynolds.
More: The UK’s negotiating position is in stark contrast to that of the EU, with the EU claiming that a “clean” Brexit is essential to protect the rights of EU citizens.
The government, for its part, has made clear that a ‘one-stop’ approach to Brexit will mean “no transitional arrangements” and no “no exit agreement”.
But as a report published by the UK Government Assessment Office (GAAO) points out, the UK is “not prepared to compromise” on its “no-deal” Brexit stance.
In a report, the GAAO, a body of independent experts who are tasked with providing “a comprehensive assessment of UK Government position and proposals to the EU” states that the UK “should prepare for a post-Brexit period that would see the UK leave the EU without any transitional arrangements”.
It goes on to state that this is an “extremely unlikely scenario” and that the Government has “no intention of compromising” on this position.
The Government Assessment of the Government’s Position on Brexit: A Comprehensive Assessment was published in September.
It states that Brexit negotiations “must be based on the Government of the day’s objectives, with no transitional arrangements, and no exit agreement.”
In the context of Brexit negotiations, this means that the “government is not prepared to negotiate with a Member State which is unwilling to honour its commitments in the context” of the Brexit negotiations.
Moreover, the report states that “the Government is prepared to recognise the principle of non-discrimination in the EU Treaties and the EU’s free movement obligations, but only if the Government recognises the UK as the EU single market’s external border.”
According to the GACO report, this would mean “a transitional arrangement will need to be agreed by the Government and approved by the European Parliament, where Parliament is expected not to have the majority needed to approve it.” “
This will be particularly difficult, given that the United States has indicated it will not be willing to negotiate a transitional arrangement with the UK in exchange for access to the single market.”
According to the GACO report, this would mean “a transitional arrangement will need to be agreed by the Government and approved by the European Parliament, where Parliament is expected not to have the majority needed to approve it.”
However, the Government Assessment says that there are “no plans for transitional arrangements at present, nor any other transitional arrangements which could lead to the UK leaving the EU in 2019.”
“It is essential that there is a clear position on transitional arrangements and a clear plan for transition arrangements to be adopted in the event of a no deal Brexit.”
While the GBAO report states the UK will be “making the necessary arrangements to transition into the EU customs union” the report also states that “[o]ver the period following Brexit, the government will seek to negotiate access to free trade agreements with the other member states of the Schengen area, including the United Nations, the European Economic Area and the European Free Trade Association.”
So it seems that the GFAO has been given a clear mandate to deliver the “no deal Brexit” and “clean Brexit” promised by the Brexit campaign.
So far, the official position of the GCAO has largely remained the same.
However there has been some change in the past few weeks.
First, on Sunday, Theresa May announced a “cleaning up” of her Brexit strategy.
At a press conference, May confirmed that she would be seeking a “Clean Brexit” for the country and would “move forward” on her negotiating objectives.
May also announced that the Brexit “solution” she is looking for is to “simply be an open, transparent and trans-European trade deal, with an emphasis on free movement.”
And on Wednesday, May’s Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer said that she was prepared to “take a very hard line” with the Irish border as part of any Brexit deal.
A lot of these announcements seem to confirm that the hard line on the border is being taken.
What do you think?
Is the UK ‘going to be left behind’ in Brexit negotiations?