Britain could be going from the frying pan to the fire as it formally leaves the European Union on Friday after its bruising, three-and-a-half year Brexit battle.
With Britain no longer being a member of the EU, it will now have to redefine its relationship with the EU — and that, according to CNN, means Prime Minister Boris Johnson “finds himself facing 11 months of hellish negotiations with another threat of [a no-deal Brexit] at the end of the tunnel.”
Formal talks between Britain and the U.K. will begin on March 3, with a Dec. 31 deadline to reach an agreement. France’s Europe minister, Amelie de Montchalin, has already laid down a marker.
“France is ready to sign a Brexit deal very quickly if the U.K. commits to full regulatory alignment that could guarantee no dumping,” he said at a news conference Wednesday.
The bulk of the negotiations will focus on trade but other issues include security, aviation and fishing and, perhaps most controversial of all, what will happen on the Irish border.
“The EU is famously difficult to negotiate with because of its complicated internal politics,” CNN said, noting that Johnson’s priority “will be sealing a free trade agreement that makes both importing and exporting as straightforward as possible, while freeing the UK from strict EU rules.”
“With the EU, [Britain needs] a close partnership based on zero tariffs and quotas as well as regulatory recognition, adequacy and equivalence in all areas including services and financial services,” said Shanker Singham, a competition and trade lawyer.
But Brussels could restrict Britain’s access to the EU if it thinks Johnson has plans to undercut the world’s largest economic bloc by, for example, using state aid to give British businesses a competitive edge or slashing tax rates to attract foreign investment in ways that would flout EU rules on competition.
“Ultimately, Brexit is now weeks away from hurtling towards its next critical deadline,” CNN said. “And for the UK more than anyone else, to get what it wants could require shutting its eyes and hoping for the best.”
Tolga AKMEN / AFP