Free Trade Deal 'in Both sides' Interest' – Academic on EU-UK Brexit Negotiations

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Brexit - Sputnik International
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Chief Brexit negotiator David Frost has stated that the UK is prepared to sever ties with the EU under WTO rules, should a reasonable free trade deal not be forthcoming.

The powers that be in Brussels have of course reiterated the notion that there should be an economic level playing field after Brexit, whereby EU citizens would still be able to freely live and work in the UK, and the bloc could retain access to British fishing waters.

But will either side cave in for the sake of avoiding market turbulence?

Dr Connal Parr; Lecturer in History at Northumbria University, gave his views on the matter.

Sputnik: Will the British government really be prepared to walk away from the EU without a Brexit deal in place?

Dr Connal Parr: Boris Johnson’s pledge has always been to get Brexit done at all costs. It’s a curse and a benefit for him that slogan that won him the election very comfortably, but at the same time it ties the issue to him very much, and it means that he has to get Brexit done with everything that he can possibly muster.

I think what we’ll see a lot at this stage, is theatrics, public optics and pretending to play hardball, pretending to be tough in the negotiations, it’s very natural in any negotiation process, so I would suggest that given Johnson and the Conservative Party’s pledge; that they are more likely at the end of the day, come December 2020, to be the ones to give some ground there.

Sputnik: Is the UK or EU more prepared for a reversion to WTO rules?

Dr Connal Parr: If Brexit shows one thing, it’s that there hasn’t always been a plan from the UK. In some ways; there needs to be more work about this, I think a lot of people have dismissed Brexit, probably wrongly, as something which is very simple, when it’s actually quite a complex phenomenon in lots of ways.

It’s also quite an emotional phenomenon, and it’s very much been about the politics of emotion, so I think the lack of a plan has often been present, and I’m afraid that the people who were behind Brexit probably didn’t completely believe that they were going to win the referendum in 2016.

The Brexit side has always lacked the concrete details, which you always get the slight feeling have been scribbled on the back of a cigarette packet somewhere, or have been very hastily assembled in previous evenings, no matter how talented the people who have been assembled to negotiate Brexit from the British side are.

I think it’s more likely that the EU have the contingency plans, and the situation to deal best with a no-deal Brexit, but that being said; the UK wants a Canada style free-trade agreement, and it’s in the interests of both sides, to come out of the negotiations with a deal, and with a positive approach.

The French Foreign Minister earlier this week, was predicting that each side would rip each other apart, but again; I think that this is very much theatrics, and this is more for show than anything, it really is in both the EU and UK’s interests to come to some kind of an agreement at the end of this, which is good for both sides.

Sputnik: Will the UK really be able to reduce migration after Brexit?

Dr Connal Parr: There is a sense with Brexit, that it’s not just about money and economics. If it was; the UK would have remained in the EU, I don’t think many people completely believe that the UK is going to sail off into the sunset and conduct multiple, wonderful and bountiful trade deals with the rest of the world.

Brexit is about something else, and it shouldn’t be dismissed what it’s about in that way. The fears that British people have had, in particular in white working-class communities, they feel that they have had a bad deal and have been left behind, and Brexit is very connected to that.

A man checks his watch a few minutes before Britain leaves the EU on Brexit day in London, Britain, January 31, 2020. - Sputnik International
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There has to be some kind of manifestation of what Brexit means in terms of immigration, and even if it’s not everyone being sent home; I don’t think that that’s what’s going to happen anyway, but for the desires of Brexiteers to be satisfied, there has to be some movement on that or some development which suggests that at least they’ve been listened to.

I think that whatever the flaws in the Conservative Party and Boris Johnson’s government; they will probably try and find a way of delivering on that promise on some level.

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