A hard Brexit is now almost assured

13th May 2020 / United Kingdom
A hard Brexit is now almost assured

By TruePublica: As British trade negotiators work hard to agree a new free trade deal with America – they take a very relaxed posture with the EU. This is the latest reminder (of many) that Britain is heading towards a hard-Brexit with Europe that welcomes in America with open arms.

The US wants the UK to lower almost all of its standards in order to access Britain as a market – the UK is hoping that brand Britain will do well with American consumers. However, the big cost to Britain aside from chlorinated chicken, GMO foods and hormone-injected beef is that its healthcare system and pharmaceutical pricing structure is to be opened up to American ‘health’ giants and policies aimed at public protection will be weakened for corporate profit-taking. Amongst other things, what will follow will be the continued destruction of the welfare system in Britain. Universal healthcare will be increasingly replaced with insurance backed healthcare (already at 13 per cent in Britain) as the NHS will be under-funded in the years ahead. If you think that the COVID-19 crisis puts public healthcare at the top of this governments agenda – think again.

Currently, Britain exports over 40 per cent of its goods to the EU. Its second-biggest trading region is Asia with America third. If Boris Johnson’s team gets what they really want, which is a good trade deal out of America and a reasonable one out of the EU, then we know what to expect.

The UK is using an interesting negotiating tactic of launching simultaneous trade talks with the EU and US. The idea is that if it achieves good progress in its trade talks with the US, it can use this as leverage to influence negotiations with the EU.

This approach has been criticised by some trade experts because it spreads the UK negotiating capacities too thin and creates difficulties in coordinating these talks. The fact that the negotiations must now be carried out remotely makes it even more difficult due to the logistical constraints of talking over video.

The other problem is the COVID-19 crisis will stall negotiations pushing the deadline over the 31st December limit that Johnson enacted into law – meaning that this tactic has completely failed. This heavily weakens the UK’s negotiating position with the EU. However, that is not stopping Johnson from continuing to agree a deal with the US and reject the advances of the EU.

Bloomberg: “British government negotiators are not taking talks on the U.K.’s future relationship with the European Union seriously enough and failure to seal an agreement by the end of this year could provoke an “economic catastrophe,” according to Germany’s main business lobby. The latest round of discussions started Monday via video link. Joachim Lang, managing director of Germany’s BDI industry federation, said that progress before Monday had been “completely inadequate” and that “it’s a realistic prospect that the lead negotiators will again be left empty-handed at the end of this week.”

“The coronavirus crisis has already cost very many jobs across Europe,” Lang said Monday in an emailed statement. “If the Brexit transition phase expires without an agreement at the end of the year, it would turn an already difficult economic situation into a catastrophe.”

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has repeatedly ruled out extending the deadline to reach a deal beyond Dec. 31, when negotiations are due to end. He has signalled he is prepared to leave the transition period without a trade deal and accept the return of quotas and tariffs rather than the EU’s demands.

The tactics of the British government are not appropriate considering the seriousness of the situation,” Lang said. “Our companies need a clear willingness from London to solve existing problems together. The British government must take into account the legitimate concerns of industry on both sides of the Channel.”

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