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Peter Foster @pmdfoster
, 18 tweets, 6 min read Read on Twitter
So. #Brexit has slipped out of the headlines - but like two prizefighters, both sides are setting themselves for the fight to come. Some of the battles are EU v EU, some UK v UK.

So what's going on? Here's a quick overview from what I know.
First the UK v UK debate.

As we report today, David Davis and Olly Robbins are representing conflicting views over how 'ambitious' the UK should be in the scope of the non-binding annex on trade and the future relationship. /2…
It seems DD got his way in sending a letter asking Govt departments to tool up for Brexit negotiations, including teams of specialists.

Time will tell if this was a face-saving measure for the Brexit Secretary who has long argued UK must seek guts of a trade deal in A50. /3
Olly Robbins is understood to want something tighter.

In the end, this may be decided by the EU side, which is having its own discussions on this. The power players (FR, DE, Cion) seem to favour tighter declaration to squeeze Brits during transition period negotiations. /4
What about EU v UK?

For now the Ireland question is front and centre: How to fix the Irish 'trilemma'?

If the UK wants an all-UK solution, they will end up in something v close to a Customs Union, even if it's not called this.… /5
There has been talk of fudging/delaying, but my sources say this is wishful thinking. Both sides internal accept the issue needs to be resolved, ideally by June.

As Mij Rahman @EurasiaGroup
well-connected Europe chief writes today the EU (and Dublin) will want clarity. /6
For now, I understand both side are still pushing out their hard position.

The UK is still in the "Mansion House" zone (where May parroted positions from August customs paper, like the dual external tariff) but these won't hold. Logically, they cannot. /7
The local anaesthetic administered by May at Mansion House will wear off.

On both sides, there is expectation that May/June will be crunch months. One top EU sources expects a "camouflage customs union".

The political question for May is how to get there. /8
There are other brewing EU v UK issues, even tho the Withdrawal Agreement in 85% done.

Geographical indications (Brussels effect on regional trade designation); road transport (truck licenses); aviation (airline ownership) data (French protectionism) name but a few. /9
Business - directly and through groups like @The_IoD @CBItweets @techUK are also starting to pile in with data that makes case for high-alignment Brexit and challenges central Brexiteer trade narrative.

For EG see today's CBI report. /10
What about EU v EU frictions?

The future phase was always going to expose conflicting interests.

Mr Barnier's challenge is to guard against UK 'cherry picking' while accommodating individual EU member states' interests. /11
For now Barnier/Commission takes a legalistic approach on many issues, but if Barnier moves aside to run for President, the EU's DG Trade may prove more flexible when trade talks begin. The UK hopes so.

Which bring us back to the UK tactical discussion on future. /12
If a de facto Customs Union crunch (as mooted above) is achieved then that opens the door to deeper talks. The EU is clear that it will move if the UK softens those lines on CU and Single Market. /13
The danger for UK, it seems to me, is that if May can do this - and thread the Irish needle - we may lose sight of what kind of future relationship we are opening the door to.

The clue is in the obtusely short 21-month transition period, and May's attempt to extend it. /14
David Davis is right to fear that as the 2021 cliff-edge approaches, the UK gets forced into ugly compromises that leave the UK at a serious disadvantage - on aviation, on autos, on financial services, on data protection, on broadcasting, on fisheries /14
EU officials talk about "Canada plus, plus, plus" with a knowing smile. They say, it's "what the UK wants, after all?".

It might suit May to trumpet Canada+++ but "come a little closer, my dear" and we see this EU grandmother has big eyes, big teeth and a big belly! /15
To express fear that the UK ends up with Canada levels of access for Norway levels of control (as May did in Mansion House) is not the same as avoiding this coming to pass.

If the early rounds of negotiation are a guide, it may be hard avoid. /16
In short. The deep + comp deal that May (sensibly) seeks risks the UK ending up as a very substantial rule-taker.

This will not be easy for an economy of UK's size and stature to stomach, to put it mildly.

And the political demons fueled Brexit will not be slain. /ENDS
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