Michel Barnier is of course entirely correct here, despite the headline:
Barnier: UK ‘Cannot’ Refuse to Extend Transition If It Will Not Submit to EU Brexit Demands
Well, yes, but:
The European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator says the British government “cannot” refuse to extend the Brexit-in-name-only “transition” period if it will not submit to the bloc’s demands in the current negotiations.
Michel Barnier, a former French foreign minister, has expressed his irritation that the United Kingdom, which formally left the EU in January but remains subject to its law, its judges, and its Free Movement migration regime while the 2020 “transition period” negotiations are conducted, is — for now — refusing to extend it.
Don’t think that’s quite, exactly, what he’s saying:
“The United Kingdom cannot impose this very short calendar for negotiations and at the same time not move, not progress on certain subjects that are important for the European Union,” he said.
Implicit in the Frenchman’s statement is an assumption not only that the 2020 negotiations must end in a “future partnership” being agreed, but that this “future partnership” must satisfy the EU’s demands — which he said centred on a so-called “level playing field”, and, according to Bloomberg, “the governance of the future partnership, judicial co-operation, and access to fishing waters.”
If there is to be an agreement then, of course, there must be an agreement. This does indeed require that each and or either side of the negotiating pair give up some things they’d rather keep in order to gain others that they’d prefer. This is what a negotiation is.
So the claim that this is “You must move” isn’t quite fair I think. “You must move or else” is entirely fair of course.
It’s what the “Or else” is which matters. And as we know, that’s not going to be the UK doesn’t leave. It’s that there will be no agreement.
That is, there does come that point when the horse that was rode in on gets buggered – along with the desires of the rider of course.