Right. We are getting to the twitchy bit now. Who will fold first as the #Brexit crucible intensifies?

The EU side appears to bet that Boris Johnson will. But are they right?

Latest @FT #Brexit briefing is out 1/thread

@FT First the status update. Another weeks of incremental nothingburger talks. Another call between @BorisJohnson and @vonderleyen with both sides expressing "disappointment" that not enough moves made on fish/LPF/governance to get the deal Mr Johnson wanted by #EUCO. /2
@FT @BorisJohnson @vonderleyen EU leaders have met and basically shrugged - original instruction to @MichelBarnier to "intensify" talks diluted to "continue" and clear that up to UK to "make the necessary moves" to get a deal.

Well guess what? The UK say the same. So what now??? /3
@FT @BorisJohnson @vonderleyen @MichelBarnier Well, in the best traditions, the EU 'squeeze' is now on. Ze clock is ticking, and the betting is that the sound will get so intolerable as deadlines approach that the UK will fold on most of the big points - not saying this is right, but it is underlying EU calculation /4
@FT @BorisJohnson @vonderleyen @MichelBarnier Diplomats and officials just don't believe - for all the Johnson talk of 'Australian terms' holding "no fear" - that the PM really has anywhere to go. #COVID__19 is raging again. They see daily warnings from officials, industry, select cmmes of the chaos it would cause. /5
@FT @BorisJohnson @vonderleyen @MichelBarnier At the same time, to preserve EU27 unity, the choreography of any concessions is blocked.

The EU side won't move on fish until the UK moves on the FTA (level playing field etc). The linkage is right there in the EU mandate. Tl'dr "Do the FTA and you gets some fish, not before"/6
@FT @BorisJohnson @vonderleyen @MichelBarnier (For nerds, there is a legacy issue here, since @MichelBarnier gave away leverage on fish in the @theresa_may era 'tunnel' which angered French and others, so despite his warnings to them, they want him to keep pressing. So we're stuck.../7
@FT @BorisJohnson @vonderleyen @MichelBarnier @theresa_may Because from the other side, it is patently ridiculous for the EU to still be demanding 'status quo' on fish - the EU fishing states know full well they'll have to move - but without some upfront offer, hard for @BorisJohnson to go first. What to do? /8
@FT @BorisJohnson @vonderleyen @MichelBarnier @theresa_may There will be those who argue that UK, by playing tough, has already learned lessons of May era by being serous about quitting the talks - the EU has backed down on dynamic alignment on state aid - but as we're seeing, that has only got the UK so far. /9
@FT @BorisJohnson @vonderleyen @MichelBarnier @theresa_may Johnson could walk away now (unlikely) to try and force a reset OR he can stay, but the risk is that he just get squeezed, drawn in the "clamp" between skinny FTA (maybe with some easements/sweeteners at the death) and v destructive no deal. An invidious choice indeed/10
@FT @BorisJohnson @vonderleyen @MichelBarnier @theresa_may All of this has been made harder by the threat to overwrite part of the Northern Ireland Protocol that still hangs over the talks - a move condemned internationally and across party lines that that has backfired on three fronts. /11
@FT @BorisJohnson @vonderleyen @MichelBarnier @theresa_may First, the EU didn't take the bait and walk away. They kept talking and made a deal contingent on the UK dropping the offending clauses. So the “gun on the table”, is now pointing back at the UK: “Drop the weapon, prime minister, or there won’t be a deal.” /12
@FT @BorisJohnson @vonderleyen @MichelBarnier @theresa_may Second such a spectacular show of bad faith over last year’s agreement, has strengthened the arguments on the EU side (from the French, notably) for a very strict governance mechanism for a deal. Yes, the EU might be overplaying their hand here, but they have perfect excuse /13
@FT @BorisJohnson @vonderleyen @MichelBarnier @theresa_may And third, a 'no deal' - in which @BorisJohnson would be politically honour-bound to use those clauses disapplying parts of the NI Protocol - is now guaranteed to be messy. If he does want to take the plunge off the no-deal cliff, the drop is now considerably higher. /14
@FT @BorisJohnson @vonderleyen @MichelBarnier @theresa_may And so the EU continues to squeeze, running down the clock, noting that Mr Johnson said that a vote for him last December was a vote to "Get Brexit Done" - will a no deal feel like getting it done, or just tearing open a wound he'd promised to close? /15
@FT @BorisJohnson @vonderleyen @MichelBarnier @theresa_may Is this a smart play from the EU side? Maybe, but there is a risk that they are under-estimating the political and psychological limits of the extent to which @BorisJohnson can cave in? This is not October 2019, the politics are different now - Johnson has his 80-seat win /16
@FT @BorisJohnson @vonderleyen @MichelBarnier @theresa_may Yes, he may have cynically signed the NI Protocol just to get an 'oven ready deal' to help him win that majority (plenty in Brussels think that) but he has it - and values is all in #Brexit (let's face it, it's not about the economy) so maybe Johnson cleaves to sovereignty? /17
@FT @BorisJohnson @vonderleyen @MichelBarnier @theresa_may I would not be overly complacent on this - or indeed that the EU will move as far as the UK wants (given UKIM trust breach) on governance and LPF.

The risk is perhaps not so much of a blow up, but a stalemate. The whole thing dribbles to failure.../18
@FT @BorisJohnson @vonderleyen @MichelBarnier @theresa_may Statement of the obvious. That would be a catastrophic error on both sides in my view. It would unleash potential demons at home in the UK and in the EU-UK relationship that would take a long time to quiet. /19
@FT @BorisJohnson @vonderleyen @MichelBarnier @theresa_may There is a deal to be done here, and it needs to be done, not least because the rest of the world looking into this neighbourhood spat will not understand how Europe cannot manage its differences properly. Both sides will be the losers, really they will. ENDS

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More from @pmdfoster

16 Oct
End of a long week in #Brexit world. But next week, after this week's chest-beating will be key.

Can this move now? Or is it stuck? It's not about fish, ultimately, it's about LPF/Governance and what 'strings' the UK can accept in exchange for a 'zero/zero' FTA. /1
So @BorisJohnson say he "only wants Canada-style" deal, but actually CETA took years to negotiate because it was a line-by-line deal, with tariffs and quotas that opens a can of worms on competing EU27 interest. The UK actually wants a quick n dirty zero/zero deal. So.../2
@BorisJohnson By opting not to extend #Brexit transition period, that "real" Canada-like FTA is off the table.

The squeeze is on and while the EU will move on fish, it will ultimately only do a deal with the "commensurate" (see Political Declaration) levels of LPF. And there lies the row. /3
Read 8 tweets
13 Oct
NEW: Where EU chemicals Assoc boss Marco Mensink @MMens and UK's Assoc Simon Marsh @See_Chem_Bus warn of coming "double whammy" to chemicals industry from #Brexit and new EU rules - now accepting deal will be v thin. via @ft w @Michael_Pooler

@MMens @See_Chem_Bus @FT @Michael_Pooler Both bosses now seem to accept that a data-sharing deal to enable UK to build parallel REACH chemicals database won't happen - but still want decent Annex in FTA on chemicals to try and mitigate damage - details on dual registration regime here/2

@MMens @See_Chem_Bus @FT @Michael_Pooler The immediate issue is that UK companies will need a EU "only representative" for trade in EU (not clear that high % yet done this) which is worrying @MMens and others.../3
Read 6 tweets
13 Oct
Lord Agnew to @CommonsTreasury says "I cannot give you a date" when the Northern Ireland border operating model will be published. Admits "I am worried about it" given sensitivities. #Brexit

@CommonsTreasury Adds 200 NI businesses have registered for the govt £200m Trader Support Service, out of 10,000 traders that need to be reached by "D-Day".

Reasonably confident they'll get rest signed up, but again admits worried. /2
@CommonsTreasury Explains delay in announcing TSS because govt was "agonising" over monopolising a service that should be provided by private sector. Admits, again "I am very worried about it." [Being ready] /3
Read 12 tweets
12 Oct
NEW: @BorisJohnson has said he wants to to end the “pointless, snooty, and frankly vacuous” distinction between technical/academic education... we've been here before...so will it be different this time? 1/thread

@BorisJohnson First the speech itself (worth quick read) but an important statement of intent; sends signal (as insider tells me) that Augar Review is "very much live" - or rather resuscitated after @theresa_may
era /2

@BorisJohnson @theresa_may BUT as Sir Chris Husbands @Hallam_VC says the revealed preference of last 50 years is that kids want to do three-year degrees...the question is whether the govt can change the 'terms of trade' in the HE/FE marketplace. /3
Read 19 tweets
9 Oct
A third of businesses still believe the #Brexit transition period will be extended says @cabinetofficeuk perm sec - this has always been big issue with preps: however good they are, they must be communicated effectively to business /1

@cabinetofficeuk And the fact that a third of businesses still think there will be an extension just shows you how hard that is - some are just busy with #COVID19 others as Chisolm says just don't believe warnings any more after all the false starts/2
@cabinetofficeuk And as we've seen with trying to get industry to hire and train customs agents, the govt/whitehall can't operate in a vacuum.

No good just launching a £50m grant scheme without trying to understand industry views of risk & appetite to hire during #COVID19 times /3
Read 7 tweets
5 Oct
A worrying bellwether for 'Global Britain'? Analysis of Horizon2020 grants by @ben_osswald
@jochenpierk shows that UK business international collaborations via the program DOWN by nearly 50% - while other EU nations are UP - my latest via @ft /2

@ben_osswald @jochenpierk @FT You can read the whole paper here, but below is a key chart for what they found on business collaborations - UK had 15,900 international research partners in Europe in 2016...that figure had fallen to 8,300 by 2019 /2

@ben_osswald @jochenpierk @FT At the same time - see raw data table below - collaboration of the three major advanced EU economies (France, Germany, Italy) all went up by between a third and a quarter. /3
Read 8 tweets

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