Posted on Sep 08, 2020
Leaked diplomatic cables reportedly show unease among EU officials over the hardline stance adopted by the British government in recent days, suspecting Boris Johnson of holding off on a compromise until the last minute to secure a deal more advantageous to Britain.
Chief negotiator David Frost said the two sides "can no longer afford to go over well-trodden ground," and that "We need to see more realism from the EU about our status as an independent country."
The latest round of talks are set to begin Tuesday, a day after Johnson vowed "not to back down."
Within the Conservative party, however, there are voices warning that if the government goes ahead with its threat of "tearing up" the withdrawal agreement Britain can lose credibility and find it difficult to reach future deals with other countries - priority at this time.
For the EU the ramifications could be worse. Withdrawal from the EU is something of a fringe debate in many EU member states - France, Netherlands, Green, Ireland, for example - but little more than 20 years ago in the UK the BBC had a policy of presenting those arguing for withdrawal as being "slightly mad."
- The gloves are off: UK threatens to tear-up EU withdrawal agreement
- EU demands veto on post-Brexit legislation - Michel Barnier to be sidelined
- UK sets October 15th deadline for trade deal with EU
- Downing Street gives EU/UK Brexit trade deal 30-40% chance
It is generally considered to be in the nature of polities such as the EU, the Soviet Union, or even in the case US hegemony, that constant expansion is essential to breathe new life into the project. Contraction, especially the loss of a major client state, can be a precursor to collapse.
The UK walking away on its own terms and without a deal might be seen as an encouragement and a model to some of the remaining 27 member states.
The UK is also exercising "soft power" in the area of foreign policy. According to The Guardian, the European Commission fears the home secretary, Priti Patel, will attempt to go round Brussels and open side negotiations on internal security after inviting ministers from the five largest EU member states to a meeting in London on September 22nd.
Commission officials have asked the member states to avoid agreeing to any British proposals that are made there. “We need to be clear that nothing can be decided in those fields subject to negotiation,” officials advised.
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