We are still far away from a trade deal – UK not ready to shake on the EU’s demands

Before the 2016 Brexit referendum, Lord Frost, now the UK’s Brexit negotiator, wrote about the likely event of the UK being the one to have “to make concessions to get the deal.” He referred to the UK as the demandeur, which, in trade circles, is a term to describe the party with less leverage. Frost saw Britain as the one that will be under pressure to renegotiate trading agreements with many countries, including the EU, in a relatively short time frame of two years after 31st December 2020. He believed this would mean that Britain would need to be ready to compromise on more of its demands during negotiations of those deals. 

With the Brexit negotiations now heading into, what is referred to as “move week”, the pressure to agree on a deal is on. As the scenario predicted by David Frost is playing out right before our eyes, neither of the parties are caving in.

All the way throughout the Brexit negotiations period, the UK’s position has not changed and yet again has been reaffirmed by Lord Frost in his tweet on Sunday where he said: 

“We are working to get a deal, but the only one that’s possible is one that is compatible with our sovereignty and takes back control of our laws, our trade and our waters. That has been our consistent position from the start and I will not be changing it.”

The PM’s spokesman concurred today: “The UK is keen to secure a deal with the EU, but not at the cost of our core principles around sovereignty and control over our laws, borders, money – and our fish,” later adding; ‘We are working hard to find solutions which fully respect UK sovereignty, but it is far from certain that an agreement will prove possible and time is now very short.’ 

For a deal to be secured, a breakthrough is needed in the position of either the EU, the UK or both. Over the last few weeks, both parties have been calling on each other to shift positions and allow for a deal to be signed, which would in turn help businesses plan ahead for what is to come on January 1st 2021. 
The UK is looking for a deal whereby its sovereignty is respected and has been proposing a Canada-style deal to the EU. The leaders in Brussels have pushed against it, explaining that a deal like this cannot be signed with a country in such close proximity to the bloc. This has left the UK and its prime minister in fury as it is believed that Belgian capital ‘overcomplicates’ Brexit negotiations.

Heading into the “move week” the negotiators will be discussing the two areas that there are still disagreements about, namely the fisheries and state aid. Elspeth Macdonald and Barrie Deas from the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations and Scottish Fishermen’s Federation wrote to the prime minister, urging him to stay tough during the talks over the coastal waters. Their letter said: “This is the time to right these wrongs. This is the UK’s once-in-a-lifetime opportunity – the Sea of Opportunity – to climb the ladder of successful seafood nations and for the UK to reap the greatest benefit from our sovereign natural resources – not to continue to give them away for the benefit of others.” While the Environment Secretary George Eustice agrees that the UK should control its own waters, he also told Sky News on Sunday that ‘there does come a point frankly where businesses need to know what they are preparing for,’ suggesting there needs to be some news of the final outcome in this week.