Lots of requests for a "step-by-step" guide to where we are with the EU-UK negotiations.

So here you go - short thread summarising the essential context & key points / issues:
1) UK formally left EU in January 2020 but entered a "transition period" during which nothing very much changed: meant to give time for negotiations over future EU-UK relationship in fields like trade and security; based on "Political Declaration" as agreed by Johnson Government
2) Political Declaration envisaged only distant EU-UK relationship: partly logical consequence of Theresa May's longstanding "red lines" on free movement etc; but also result of renewed political preference, by Johnson Government, for even more extreme "clean break Brexit"
3) But almost immediately after UK withdrawal, Johnson Government changed the goalposts in ways that can only be described as cynical, untrustworthy and reckless. Started by tearing up large parts of Political Declaration: even its distant ties were no longer distant enough...
4) ... & continued with new red lines / fresh demands reflecting Johnson's (frankly tedious) belief that UK should "have its cake and eat it". So: back to square one - yet UK refused extension to transition period, to give more time for negotiations - even after onset of pandemic
5) ... & further problems arose after Johnson's direct and explicit plans to breach the agreement, already reached with the EU, for managing the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. Widely regarded as dangerous attempt to use stability / peace in NI as leverage in talks.
6) Against that messy backdrop, talks have gotten bogged down in series of specific issues. Important to stress: none of these are at all new; it's been like this, again and again and again, for many months already! 3 issues have proved particularly difficult.
7) First, the level playing field, ie guarantees that UK will not engage in unfair competition, by slashing standards in fields like state subsidies, employment, environment etc. EU says they are essential. UK says "just trust us, we won't do it". EU wants it more concrete thanks
8) Secondly, governance and dispute settlement, ie how to manage relations and put things right when they go wrong. EU wants power of rapid response if UK breaches obligations - hardly surprising, especially given Johnson's breach of NI agreement just months after signing it...
9) Thirdly, fisheries: EU wants stable agreement on access by EU fleets to UK waters, directly linked to terms for access by UK suppliers to latter's primary market, ie the EU itself. As we know: an issue whose political profile vastly outweighs its relative economic importance.
10) But beyond those specific points of disagreement, there's a more fundamental problem at work here. Put simply: UK just hasn't accepted consequences of its own choices. Johnson says "we've taken back control, now treat us as your sovereign equal". Whereas the EU replies:
11) In reality, the UK has given up control. It gave up its leadership in Europe to become a 3rd country. Now it has to strike bargains with the rest of the world: not just other mid-ranking powers; but also the superpowers & regional blocs. Which means compromises & obligations.
12) Even on most optimistic scenario, ie deal done & ready to apply from 1 Jan 2021, it would be so narrow and shallow that - for many purposes / sectors / actors - it would be virtually indistinguishable from having no deal at all. But that was always Johnson's clear preference
13) If there is no deal: in 2021 the UK will finally experience what it really means to have left the EU - and do so at the same time as we struggle also with the ongoing pandemic health & economic crisis. But again that would be the direct result of deliberate choices by Johnson
14) I don't subscribe to the "armageddon's coming" view of January 2021. We'll see how bad the short term disruption is. But in reality, Brexit will be a slow and painful maiming by many wounds: m/b-illions of increased costs, extra burdens, lost opportunities, frustrated hopes.
15) Even if a better deal comes along in due course, it will only mean costly & disruptive "two regulatory changes" that transition was designed to avoid. And of course: nothing can undo the damage Brexit & Tories have already done to the UK's reputation and fundamental interests

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More from @mdouganlpool

8 Nov
Taking part in the pan-Liverpool mass testing scheme was dead easy: in and out in 15 mins; result by text within an hour.
It's not for me to say whether this scheme offers great promise or suffers whatever flaws. When a bona fide call comes - aux armes, citoyens - it's a civic duty to answer.
A negative result means: carry on obeying the rules that help keep people safe. Which is exactly what I'll do. My fellow scientists will learn whatever lessons need to be learned from the scheme. To the benefit of us all.
Read 4 tweets
30 Sep
As UKIM Bill makes its way to Lords, what could be done to improve it, so far as devolution is concerned?

Even accepting it’s probably going to pass, there is still considerable room for improvement. So: what changes might at least help lessen problems?

A few brief thoughts:
1) replace current proposals based on directly enforceable legal rights, with system of pre-legislative dialogue between UK authorities, ie to identify & discuss / address potential trade barriers. So: notify relevant proposals then find (preferably consensus) political solution
2) mutual recognition / non-discrimination are important principles & should provide reference point for that pre-legislative discussion – but only a reference point. They are not overriding objectives and they are should not be treated as (near) absolutes (as current Bill does)
Read 11 tweets
17 Sep
How to convey the recklessness of Johnson's tactics in relation to Northern Ireland?

Here are a few memories of my childhood growing up in working class West Belfast in the late 70s and 80s:
- us lying scared at the bottom of our parents' wardrobe, where they'd put us, covered in a few quilts, listening, terrified, to the rioting and gunshots right outside on our wee street
- walking home from the playground with my two younger sisters, being trailed with a rifle by a soldier standing behind a wall, hoping that he's pointing that gun at me and not one of them
Read 6 tweets
16 Sep
Those asking for more specific materials to help prove Tory lies about EU's supposedly new / extremist / absurd interpretation of Irish border Protocol...

Here is a series of short excerpts from my peer reviewed CMLRev analysis (written Nov 2019-Feb 2020, published June 2020):
1) excerpt pointing out how Johnson's lies about "no border in Irish sea" clash with clear reality of Johnson positively agreeing to extensive checks on movement of goods from GB to NI:
2) excerpt noting clear impact of checks on goods moving from GB to NI as agreed by Johnson; as well as need for checks on goods moving from NI to GB also agreed by Johnson; and explicitly anticipating problems this would inevitably cause for "UK Internal Market"
Read 5 tweets
15 Sep
I’ve been asked for another step-by-step explanation of what’s just happened in Westminster.

So voila: an update on Johnson’s plans to destabilise Ireland and isolate the UK…
1) As we know, Parliament is now considering whether to empower Johnson to override, directly & deliberately, two clear and precise legal obligations under the very Withdrawal Agreement he signed with the EU: controls on goods from NI to GB; and state aid rules in relation to NI
2) & as we know, those breaches of international law risk range of very serious consequences. Not least for NI: state aid regime is necessary to prevent unfair dumping of UK goods into EU and is therefore an integral part of avoiding a “hard border” across the island of Ireland
Read 16 tweets
13 Sep
Johnson’s UK Internal Market Bill is crucial not just because of proposals to break international law on Irish border. Also for its impact on devolution & governance of entire UK.

So: another step-by-step guide to key issues arising from Johnson's plans.

1) Regulation of internal UK trade wasn’t much of a problem until Brexit. When UK joined EU, there was no devolution. When devolution happened, EU rules helped structure operation of UK market. Only a few issues ever bubbled up as points of tension, eg university tuition fees
2) But Brexit now makes it important to decide how regulatory differences across UK will impact on trade in goods and services. If Scotland has different rules on X or Y or Z, how far should those different rules prevent English goods / services being sold / provided in Scotland?
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