HOPES for a deal that can be rushed through before the December 31 deadline appeared to be dying as the UK chief negotiator remained bullish while setting off for more talks with EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier today.
As Lord Frost set off, he sent a number of tweets stating that there would be no further compromises while also claiming to be hopeful, attracting scorn from many commenters.
Bella 34 pointed out that Breixit will hit UK farmers hard, stating that the government has ‘no idea how it works’.
Ridiculing government advice to ‘prepare’ for no-deal, she referred to former Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food George Eustace and his advice for farmers to diversify. On the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, he suggested that sheep farmers could switch to beef.
The Twitter commenter sneered: “…what will cattle do on Welsh mountains?!”
Another commenter quoted the Prime Minister who said in Dublin on September 9 2009: “No-deal would be a failure of statecraft”.
Frost himself tweeted: “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,” he added.
This round of talks is expected to be the last chance for the two sides to reach agreement, but “we may not succeed,” warned Frost.
The deadline is little more than a month away after which the full effect of being out of a trade deal will commence. Observers have spoken of visions of nightmare, with claims of Kent becoming a lorry-park since border checks at Calais and Dover are likely to lead to horrendous delays.
Similar effects will be seen at Felixstowe, the UK’s busiest container port.
Outstanding points making agreement impossible without compromise include:
• competition guarantees demanded by the UK, including a demand that the EU drop its level playing-field demands;
• access for European trawling fleets to the UK’s’s rich fishing grounds:
• what will be the nature and mechanism for dispute settlement in the future, given the UK’s determination not to be bound by the European court of justice.
And this is not to mention the problems looming with the US president-elect who is on record as refusing to agree a US-UK deal that creates a border on the island of Ireland, in breach of the Good Friday Agreement.
Only the second Catholic US president in history after John F Kennedy, Biden is said to be proud of his Irish connections, adding to the UK’s isolation.
Despite the overwhelming nature of these outstanding issues, Frost insists that progress has been made in the past few days.
“We also now largely have common draft treaty texts, though significant elements are of course not yet agreed,” he said. “We will work to build on these and get an overall agreement if we can.”