This Friday, the UK was supposed to have a special meeting with the EU to clarify their position on a future partnership. This meeting did not happen, seemingly because the UK government still does not know what it wants. Lead EU negotiator Michel Barnier instead held a press conference by himself, making clear that certain UK positions on the transition (over which talks happened this week) may make it impossible to strike a deal.
Barnier listed three points of contention: 1) a cut-off date on citizens rights (UK wants to limit movement during transition), 2) UK wanting right to opt-out of EU laws during transition, 3) UK wanting to opt-in to certain law/judicial policies.
These represent classic “cake and eat it too” demands. The EU says during the transition, the UK must follow all EU laws but cannot (for the most part) have a say, since the country will no longer be a member. The UK, however, wants special exceptions to only follow the policies they like.
Finally, studies continue to finally emerge showing the universally negative impacts of Brexit on the UK economy, across all the scenarios. The uncertainty of the outcome of the negotiations continues to threaten economic planning for the future, leading a Japanese diplomat to say bluntly that companies may not want to do business in the UK in the future.
It feels like facts may finally be catching up with the leave campaign, however it’s much too late. And despite public opinion starting to move, the government position has yet to show any signs of softening. This while the exasperated EU seems to get clearer each week on the position it staked out from the beginning and what the UK will be left with come March 2019. One starts to wonder how they will describe this political debacle in the history books…