Jonathan Lis Profile picture
Nov 6, 2017 37 tweets 4 min read
Back from meetings in Brussels. There's good news and bad news. First, the bad news. Because it's... extremely bad. 1/
2/ While consensus in London seems to assume trade talks kick off in December, senior EU officials now consider this, on balance, unlikely
3/ Brussels monitors UK media & ministers' statements - they can see PM has been backtracking since Florence - ie backtracking to cliff-edge
4/ Behind the scenes, also evidence that UK has reneged on guarantees for citizens that it initially signalled it would make. Really bad.
5/ As for money, if May insists she can't make any further commitments, EU will not trigger trade talks in December. It's that simple.
6/ EU went as far as it could in Oct. Nobody's asking for precise figure, just specific commitments. €60bn the ballpark figure.
7/ UK Government knows all this, incidentally. They're in denial about it. But what happens if they test EU anyway?
8/ If no agreement in Dec, next opportunity to kick-start talks is in March. That leaves *7 months* to agree deal. They can't, and won't.
9/ All of this means, we're heading for crisis (and economic shock) very soon - December or January - unless UK comes to its senses.
10/ EU fears May, when rebuffed in Dec through her instransigence, will retreat to comforting insanity of Redwood/Mogg Brexit utopia. BAD.
11/ So senior EU officials now putting chances of no-deal at over 50%, and making detailed impact assessments about what it means for EU
12/ EU officials don't think UK Gov working in national interest; worse, believe May & Davis don't understand process, or what no-deal means
13/ EU unsure whether civil servants not telling ministers truth, or if ministers just aren't listening- but UK incompetence is mystifying
14/ One official agreed that Davis's recent remark on negotiations going down to wire, after EU Parl't vote, was lunacy. EP vote is final.
15/ Which brings us to the centrality of the misunderstanding. Brexit is a political, but far more importantly, a legal process.
16/ Article 50 rules must be obeyed. Which means, everything must be agreed by European Parliament. And that means, *everything*.
17/ So when Davis says that we'll have a basic deal, on eg aviation, but without things we want, that must also be approved by EU Parl't.
18/ And here's the thing: it won't happen. EU conditions for deal are € above all else: if UK refuses to pay everything, no deal on anything
19/ If UK planning to leave hole in EU budget, forget about 'deal no deal', 'basic deal', or 'orderly no deal'. No deal means no deal.
20/ That means no aviation, drastically curbed radiotherapy. No transfer of nuclear material unless UK's undergone exhaustive IAEA process
21/ EU thinks UK won't easily be able to resurrect old aviation treaties, and a new one will take 2 years. This also requires goodwill.
22/ EU also fears Gov won't walk away, but just let clock tick - a no-deal by accident or incapacity. Followed by 'bloody unreasonable EU'.
23/ EU also not concerned about its own unity - in a crisis, officials think member states will rally round, not peel off. Unlike in UK.
24/ This, regrettably, is not the only bad news.

Let's assume UK does come to its senses before December summit, and talks progress.
25/ As Barnier's made clear, there's no bespoke transition. That means we have to stay in EEA, and to make that seamless, apply to join EFTA
26/ EFTA officials confident UK could apply to join EFTA quite quickly & provisionally apply agreement for Mar 19, seamlessly staying in EEA
27/ This, provided Norway & Iceland happy to let UK in for transitional period. But they would be under great pressure to allow it.
28/ Might even be possible for UK to negotiate 'associate' EFTA status so doesn't have to apply to join EFTA's trade deals (big concession)
29/ Only... Northern Ireland is ruined, because off-shelf EEA agreement excludes agriculture. Which means full WTO tariffs. No ifs, no buts.
30/ EEA Agreement Article 19 provides framework for agri liberalisation- but needs to be negotiated from scratch. Norway's deal took 2yrs.
31/ So Davis was right to say, last Tuesday, that new tariffs would be 'a real problem' for NI. It's a problem he's determined to make real.
32/ So, I hear you ask, where's the good news?

Easy. If UK wants to extend A50, or revoke it, just say magic word. Even at last minute.
33/ Can negotiate new aviation treaty, new agri provisions to top up EEA, or a new trade deal, while comfortably still in EU.
34/ Senior officials describe difficulty of UK participating in EU elections as 'lowest priority'. Avoiding cliff-edge much more important.
35/ EU doubts PM has authority to pull this off. Easier for her to drag us off cliff than show humility/common sense. But there's still time
36/ It's not too late to see this cliff-edge & prevent what's otherwise an unavoidable catastrophe. All they need to do is open their eyes.
37/ That was the news. If anyone's friends with Theresa or David, please let them know.

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More from @jonlis1

Nov 9
Interesting start to PMQs when Sunak refuses to confirm that recipients of Covid fines won’t be elevated to the Lords
Starmer now going hard on Williamson. ‘A pathetic bully who’d never get away with it if people like the PM didn’t elevate him to power.’ Sunak says it’s right that he resigned but not that it was wrong to appoint him. To put it politely, he’s struggling.
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Read 9 tweets
Nov 2
Starmer asks who broke the asylum system and all Sunak has to talk about is Brexit. Starmer replies ‘no-one on this side wants open borders’. It’s gonna be a grim one.
Clearly Starmer wants to tackle the immigration issue and show that Labour can talk tough, but he risks alienating a lot of people who are appalled by the Tories’ rhetoric and want to know Labour is opposing on account of principle, not just efficiency.
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Read 8 tweets
Oct 26
OK, this should be interesting…
Sunak certainly seems more cheerful than he did yesterday
Starmer congratulates symbolism of Sunak’s appointment. Then asks if Braverman had been right to resign. Sunak begins graciously, then pivots to bullshit about Braverman having recognised her mistake and lies about Labour’s softness on crime and immigration. Just like old times!
Read 11 tweets
Oct 19
How is this only Truss’s third #PMQs? It feels like she’s been prime minister for ten years
Anyway, here we fucking go.
Truss is in pork markets mode. Not sure she has much cause to be so exuberant.
Read 13 tweets
Oct 12
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Truss bizarrely lies that Labour backed down on the National Insurance cut. Literally everyone knows that Labour opposed it while Truss, in her previous government role, walked through the lobbies for it
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Read 6 tweets
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Moving on where now?
Truss speaking faster than in interviews and seems a bit more relaxed, but has no understanding of pace or timing or how to vary her delivery. So far there’s been zero conviction even when she’s talking about stuff she believes.
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