Can't say I was expecting any immediate 'breakthrough' on the Northern Ireland protocol from today's meeting. Conceptually there is no common understanding. Best to hope for practical implementation and continued conversations.
Differing expectations lead to very different conclusions.
Increasingly looks like the UK adopting a twin track approach to Northern Ireland, complain vociferously in public whilse seeking flexibility in private. Probably the only realistic approach, but will David Frost be able to keep that running after Monday?
The flexibility available from the EU on Northern Ireland will probably be restricted by the UK maintaining public hostility, but you can see the bones of a workable though rather fragile arrangement there. Which may yet become the new normal for all UK-EU trade relations.

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More from @DavidHenigUK

26 Feb
Darlington would be an awfully convenient Treasury base if the Chancellor happened to be MP for the neighbouring constituency and there was a potentially close mayoral election next door the other way.

Thankfully we have robust processes... oh, we don't.…
I think we would call it corruption in other countries where the Chancellor chose to locate part of the government in the nearest town to his constituency.
See also apparently Jenrick and moving part of his department to a convenient location for him. So much wrong. But let's just think about one. Civil servants moving jobs. Easy in London. Not so easyt from Darlington to Wolverhampton to Sheffield.…
Read 4 tweets
26 Feb
I can see the thinking here. There are attractions for both sides is some sort of reset moment. But both sides have to want to try and find a more mature relationship and I don't think at the moment that is the case for either. Maybe should be, isn't.
As since 2016 the most problematic part of any EU negotiations would be an internal one in London. Will there ever come a point at which Boris Johnson can admit what he signed up to in the Northern Ireland protocol?
There is an even bigger conceptual challenge for the PM and Brexit ultras - do they realise that to be any kind of global player they have to make peace with the EU? For some, impossible, as the aim is to break the EU. But for others... will they come to see reality?
Read 5 tweets
25 Feb
Growing pains of UK trade policy. The success of 2020 rested on avoiding policy decisions, accepting a minimal EU deal, replicating existing deals. Now David Frost has to deal with the legacy in his new role. My lastest @BorderlexEditor perspectives…
Top of the UK trade policy problem pile is food standards, which are central to reducing GB-Northern Ireland checks, a US trade deal, and may even arise in CPTPP accession. Any decision will face domestic opposition, but no decision maximises barriers to trade. Image
But you see the potential conflicts elsewhere. New Zealand and Australia are demanding more agricultural access to UK markets both in bilateral deals and the CPTPP. Talk of a trade deal with India is always going to face a visa problem among many others. And so on.
Read 4 tweets
25 Feb
This will be the ERG that voted for the protocol? Then also voted (except one?) for the trade deal with the EU that confirmed it? And in doing so voted to end their own power over the matter.

Self awareness was never their strong suit.
"Mutual enforcement" is actually no border at all. Because alternate arrangements and drones and everything were such a shambles, it is to throw your hands up in their air and give up. Even the UK government can't take it seriously.
Brexit as permanent revolution to rewrite history / economics / borders or Brexit as one-off event that happened and we move on? The first gets supportive media headlines and wins elections. But doesn't achieve anything.
Read 6 tweets
24 Feb
Mini thread on the end of au pairs in the UK. Not world ending as Peter says, but rather like the end of UK participation in Erasmus a change that will affect quite a number of far from wealthy young people, and reduce exposure of Europeans to the UK.
And add the end of UK au pairs and Erasmus to work restrictions on tour reps, stage crews and the like and you see Brexit affecting normal folk around the UK, as well as reducing EU exposure to the UK. None of which is made up by new global trade agreements.
And by the way this is all affecting UK trade numbers as well, both direct and indirect. Less trade, and less mutual understanding on which future contracts are based. And it is particularly hitting small business trade, the big firms are less affected.
Read 4 tweets
23 Feb
As others well qualified (@GeorginaEWright) have said - no, the EU will ratify. But the European Parliament debate will help set the framework for future UK relations, and in doing so illustrate the continuing failure of the UK government to take its own Parliament seriously.
I still disagree, or at the very least put the issue differently. After 7 weeks UK government already under pressure to negotiate better EU access on e.g. musicians, shellfish. Trade gravity is irritating, lost jobs real, and Starmer caution excessive.
In late 2020 the UK government signed a (replacement) trade deal every week. In 2021 the weekly news is lost trade. New trade deals will be slow and create nothing new in terms of business opportunities. At some stage quiet dealmaking with EU likely.
Read 4 tweets

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