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Simon Usherwood @Usherwood
, 25 tweets, 4 min read Read on Twitter
A thread on how the Art.50 talks might move on:

So we now have some sense of where next sides are on all the major issues: Phase 1, transition and the New Relationship. Sure, it's patchy but we know considerable more than we di

Rather than break things down in huge detail, let's take a more practical approach and think what needs to be done and when

Central task is still to have a deal in place for 29 March 2019. That means a text, ideally by October, maybe Nov at a push. But what must go in it?

Practically, transition must be in there, to govern what happens as UK leaves.

Politically, EU has insisted that Phase 1 issues are also resolved here.

Future Relationship only needs some language about desire to work towards it, not detail, so I consider it largely expendable if/when other stuff gets bogged down.

(note there's a trade-off of losing this from Art.50 deal, namely that it'll slow down transition, making Dec 2020 target end-date virtually impossible)

Future Rel is thus a bit of a diversion, even if HMG has been correct to say it links to Phase 1 resolution, for talk of recent weeks has diverted political attention from Phase 1

Phase 1 issues abound. Central is Irish dimension: despite disliking Option C, UK hasn't advanced detailed models for A or B and risks being backed into a corner by its Jt Rpt commitments

(remember Jt Rpt matters on pacta sunt servanda basis, and failure to honour will have reputational issues for UK when discussing FTAs w third states, quite beyond immediate impact on UK-EI rels)

Likewise, UK finding that EP isn't giving any ground on citizens' rights: again here, rash language on no diminution of rights post-Brexit is coming back to haunt UK in negotiations

Core difficulty here is that option to push these points into transition doesn't look available: EU has linked latter to former, so there must be some accord by October

March #EUCO will be central: failure to agree transition (where differences are actually more manageable) will be driven by lack of clarity on Phase 1

That would push things into summer and there will almost no scope for any delay then: already by July it'll be much clearer if this is all going to happen

Important point to remember: both sides are really fighting to get to a deal. UK is being more realistic about available choices; EU is leaving door open to further evolution of position

Talk on cherry-picking doesn't help: final deal will be a hodge-podge, especially as services element rolls on (now w added CFP linkage), so focus must be on what's politically viable

Both sides have red lines, both of which boil down to 'what's going to fly with domestic audiences': EU needs to reassure against contagion, UK that Brexit does, in fact, mean Brexit [sic]

We're not at an impasse yet. UK has still got flexibility from its lack of precision, so most likely gambit wld be to retrofit a deal w language to effect that "this was what we planned all along"

EU now reaching point where has to acknowledge that 'off-the-shelf' models have more flexibility that they've said, and that whatever deal is 'essentially' like CETA (or whatever)

So rhetorical space exists, but will have to be underpinned by substance. And this is the main problem

If we are to get to congress at/around March #EUCO, then A &/or B models for Irish dimension have to be tabled. That has to be central lock to it all.

Sadly, citizens' rights comes second in this: EUCO might take view that EP is biddable, if presented w choice of current package or no deal

(that's dubious given proximity of #EP19 and current unhappiness about Selmayr BTW)

However, current UK rhetoric still lacks indication of any of this happening

In sum, Art.50 isn't at impasse yet, but could be soon.

/end (and h/t @Sime0nStylites for suggesting this thread)
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