Worth noting as we play future scenarios, that no trade deal is probably not a stable UK EU end state as it will mean more such demands to denounce the Withdrawal Agreement.
Anyway, the deal available to the UK (and EU) is more or less as we've known since June, and not technically difficult. The politics and choreography horrendous. We wait to see what the coming days bring.

In the mean time, at least tonight, 🍷
Ah, this is not what happens in the run up to a deal

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More from @DavidHenigUK

18 Oct
True. Which leads to the bigger political problem. If you imagine all that border friction at Dover, how do you think it is avoided on trade between Britain and Northern Ireland? Answer, as we know, is that a deal doesn't remove that issue.
There's also a second political issue, which is the anticipation that a deal leads to further smaller deals to ease border controls. Which is exactly what the Brexit ultras will fear about a deal, a gradual return to the EU's orbit.
I don't think most of the Brexit commentary understands that there is a set of UK decisions approaching in which some will lose out (deja vu for the DUP perhaps). So we need to ask who they are going to be. The ERG? Business?
Read 4 tweets
18 Oct
Always a very powerful argument to claim that your neighbours or some other country want to restrict you. Also happens to be a line particularly popular with paranoid dictatorships. And a discouragement to business or said neighbouring countries to deal with you. Image
Maybe at some stage the government could be asked, who wants to control us more, the EU wanting us to sign up for level playing field conditions, or the US wanting us to sign up for food rules (and by the way level playing field conditions).
Another question for government - in what exact ways do the EU want us to forfeit our independence? How do these differ from, for example, WTO rules? And what rules are we prepared to sign up for?
Read 9 tweets
17 Oct
Brexit. UK-EU talks. Let's try to explain why we're in such a state, of increased risk of no deal, moving away from the fish and playing fields which are the detail but not the answer, to differing philosophies and divorce parallels that might just help... 1/
First, with apologies to those concerned, we need to go beyond those saying this is the inevitable path to deal / no-deal. Half of them will be right and I'll definitely be wrong (don't worry, I'm hedged in wine bets), but it wasn't inevitable, typical, or necessary. 2/
I'll also ignore the content of any deal, which has been clear for months, the UK compromises on level playing field, the EU on fish. Something so obvious really isn't the fundamental issue. Could, as some not noted for their perspicacity have said, be done in an afternoon. 3/
Read 19 tweets
16 Oct
A letter from the PM on the EU talks which is confused, exaggerated, and internally contradictory. There could be no possible basis for a trade deal if the letter was to be taken seriously. ImageImage
The EU-Canada agreement is not based on "friendship and free-trade" but is absolutely full of conditionality. I've clipped a random bit of text, but frankly there are dozens of similar examples. ImageImage
"They want the continued ability to control our legislative freedom".

Distortion / exaggeration. All trade treaties involve a restriction of legislative freedom. You might as well say the same about other members of the WTO. Image
Read 9 tweets
16 Oct
"I still can't make a decision" - UK PM

Because there still isn't an easy path he can take.
A PM desperate for the EU to resolve his problem of a deal acceptable to them and the Brexit ultras. Which they can't.

That Australia style deal? Well Australia doesn't have a car industry, and we won't have one if there's no deal.

Just words without meaning.

And as I've said before the EU wouldn't even offer Canada the same deal now as they gave in 2020. Not to mention us asking for more. Not only does trade policy move on, but it is always different for neighbours.
Read 8 tweets
16 Oct
At a rough guess EU leaders have become bored and irritated by optimistic London pronouncements about a deal not backed up by a willingness to make significant movements on substance, indeed with the internal market bill, backsliding. theguardian.com/politics/2020/…
Not perhaps the EU's finest negotiating moment either, for while we know fish is a domestic sensitivity the UK maintaining status quo on waters always was a non-starter. But removing the word intensive about future talks appears to have had an effect. thetimes.co.uk/article/back-d…
But as before, still mainly for the UK to show we can accept the deal on offer, and drop the internal market bill threats, before the last minute fish haggle. Over to the PM to make the decision...
Read 6 tweets

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