, 17 tweets, 4 min read Read on Twitter
A brief reminder on why the next two months matter in #A50 land

The Oct #EUCO decided that while there was progress on Phase I of talks, there wasn't sufficient progress

That meant no opening of Phase II talks in #A50, just preparation of a mandate for them, as a bone to show willing/good faith

UK needs Phase II to start in Dec, so that's there are 10 mths to conclude a deal (remember it needs 6mths to ratify pre-March 19)

As any passing negotiator will tell you, 10 mths isn't long for this kind of thing, esp as this isn't a usual kind of thing

Even the simplest Phase II arrangements - 'just' taking UK out of institutions, keeping everything else in transition - is fraught

with political risks and problems (imagine the UK headlines, if nothing else).

So a Dec move to Phase II is hard enough. But if there's still no 'sufficient progress' by Dec, it's March 18 before the next evaluation

That means only 7mths, plus the added bad odour over a further 3mths of messing about.

#EUCO used its one bone already (the mandate), so Dec mtg might lead to a hard Xmas, with no presents for anyone

The hard version of this is set out in @jonlis1's tweet yesterday

He focused on back-end risks to all this, but the main message I'd take is that things are still open now: this is the best moment left

HMG can (and might) be pushing more on finances and citizens' rights in coming rounds, but it needs to do that sooner rather than later

Which is why all the stuff going on in Westminster matters. Bandwidth taken up with scandals/crisis mtg can't be used to advance #A50

(unless you take a more Machiavellian view that these crises divert attention from making #A50 concessions...

which assumes a level of planning/strategising not immediately borne out by the evidence)

In short, if domestic agenda gets worse, then so too do chances for #A50 progress

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