Prime Minister Boris Johnson has stood by his promise that the UK will be completely out of the EU by the end of the year throughout the Brexit process. Last night was the deadline to request an extension to the transition period expired, meaning the UK will leave the bloc with or without a deal on December 31. As the two sides try to break the deadlock and make a trade deal, Angela Merkel warned the Prime Minister that she cannot negotiate with him until he takes a “less ideological and more pragmatic” stance.
Others have suggested that the EU is now poised for a no deal Brexit as it turns its focus to the coronavirus pandemic and the incoming recession.
Yet, an unearthed comment piece from Brexit Central reveals that the bloc may actually have a great deal to lose by settling for no deal.
Writing in July 2019, former Labour MP Austin Mitchell explained how — at a time when the UK and the EU were deadlocked over the Withdrawal Agreement.
Although the negotiations have since progressed after Mr Johnson suggested a border in the Irish Sea, the same arguments apply to the current stage of the Brexit process.
Ursula von der Leyen, Boris Johnson and Michel Barnier
Angela Merkel recently asked Johnson to be more pragmatic in negotiations
Mr Mitchell wrote: “Remove the No Deal threat and there’s no incentive for that wobbly, would-be empire, to say anything different.”
He continued: “The assumption is that a malevolent EU will set out to damage us — an odd view from those who love it, and unlikely.
“It’s hardly logical to bash their nearest neighbour and trading partner while doing dirty deals with Russia.
“The harsher they are to us, the more they damage themselves – and particularly Ireland, just as a European recession looks likely.
David Frost, UK’s chief negotiator and Michel Barnier, EU’s chief negotiator
“It’s true that the pound will fall but that will boost exports and tax imports.
“We should boost that right now by state aid to industry to seize its opportunity and backing for import substitution.”
He pointed out that a spending boost in the UK would prevent the crippling consequences of a no deal for Britain.
Mr Mitchell explained that no deal would have far greater consequences for the EU if it does not arrange a trade agreement with Britain.
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Johnson has been true to his word and the deadline for asking for an extension to transition has lapsed
Brexit timeline for this year
He wrote: “In the unlikely event that the EU does try to cripple us, they will be damaging themselves, beginning a Trumpian trade war to defend their protectionist bloc, and holding back trade and developing nations by agricultural protectionism.
“All that not only goes against the spirit of the age, but adds both to the problems of recession the world is already facing, and to the economic damage imposed by the euro on its own weaker members.
“That doesn’t sound like the fairytale paradise Remainers claim the EU to be.”
Mrs Merkel is also thought to be the EU’s greatest Achilles’ heel in the Brexit negotiations, as she is rooting for a deal.
The BBC’s Europe editor Katya Adler reported last month: “Prominent UK politicians have often looked to [Mrs Merkel] — and to German car manufacturers — to push for a favourable deal with the UK.
“Germany will shortly take over the EU’s six-month rotating presidency.
“Will Mrs Merkel want to ‘preside’ over a no deal break-up with key partner UK — something which would also blot her legacy in her last term as German Chancellor?”