Catch up on Brexit: Missed another deadline, Brexit mastermind leaves | NOW

Brexit is back. The British have now left the European Union, but the two parties are still arguing about their future relationship. Time is running out and the news is piling up quickly, so we’ll have a quick update on what happened this week.

Missing deadlines seems inseparable from the grueling Brexit negotiations. And also this week it hit again. Again, negotiators from both sides have failed to reach an agreement before a deadline. This time it concerns the deadline of mid-November. Last week, too little progress is said to have been made in the negotiations that largely took place on British soil.

From deadline to deadline

And as befits the Brexit negotiators, a new (informal) deadline has already been set. A video meeting of the European Council will take place on Thursday 19 November. The camp of EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier would like to see a trade agreement on the table by this date. If this does not happen, alarm bells will probably go off in Brussels. With just over a month to go, EU officials will have to devote themselves to making emergency legislation in order to limit the damage of a possible no-deal Brexit.

Nevertheless, there would have been steady progress in the negotiations in the recent period, as confirmed by Rishi Sunak, the British Finance Minister. Insiders are therefore cautiously optimistic about a possible deal. And a number of developments on the other side of the North Sea may contribute even more to this.

Johnson’s controversial Brexit law rejected

On the night from Monday to Tuesday, a large majority of the British House of Lords rejected Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s controversial Brexit law. The House of Lords wants Johnson to adhere to the agreements made earlier with the EU about Northern Ireland. The fact that the House of Lords turned against the law en masse seems to show once again that a large part of the British are in favor of a trade agreement with Brussels.

Should the EU and UK negotiate a trade deal, the controversial passages from Johnson’s Brexit law would likely be out of the question. In the original withdrawal treaty, the EU retains control over trade with Northern Ireland, partly to avoid checks at the border with EU Member State Ireland.

Brexit mastermind leaves Number Ten

After years of loyal service, it was announced on Thursday that Boris Johnson is saying goodbye to his top advisor Dominic Cummings. The resigned right-hand man is seen by many as the spiritual father of the Brexit campaign and an advocate for tough negotiations with the EU. Now that Cummings has left Number Ten (10 Downing Street, the UK government headquarters), this may lead to a more constructive tone in the Brexit negotiations. It could potentially give Johnson more control over the talks with Brussels.

Whether this will also result in a quick deal with the EU is still very much the question. Even if a deal is indeed reached next week, the EU, like the UK, will need time. After all, a trade agreement must first be ratified by the British Parliament and all EU member states. The latter in particular could take some time.


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