Thursday 15 November 2018

Brexit Is A ‘Lose-Lose Situation’ For Britain, Says European Council’s Donald Tusk

Chief EU negotiator for Brexit, Michel Barnier (L) and President of Council Donald Tusk shake hands during a press conference on Brexit at the European Council in Brussels on November 15, 2018. - British Prime Minister Theresa May will begin trying to sell her Brexit deal to parliament, boosted by the backing of her cabinet but facing a mutiny in her own party. (Photo by JOHN THYS / AFP)JOHN THYS/AFP/Getty Images

Donald Tusk has said Brexit is a ‘lose-lose situation’ for the UK and EU, just hours after Theresa May secured Cabinet approval to proceed with her deal. Speaking alongside EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier at a press conference in Brussels, the European Council (EC) president, sent a message to British people, telling them: ‘As much as I am sad to see you leave, I will do everything to make this farewell the least painful possible, for you and for us.’ Mr Tusk set out the process leading up to a Brussels summit of EU leaders on November 25 at which the UK’s withdrawal agreement will be finalised and formalised.

At the press conference in Brussels, Mr Tusk was presented by the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier with a copy of the 585-page agreement approved on Wednesday by Theresa May’s Cabinet. Mr Tusk said that the agreement was already being analysed by all the member states, and by the end of this week the EU27 ambassadors will meet in order to share their assessment. 

‘I hope that there will not be too many comments,’ he said. Ambassadors and ministers of the EU27 will also discuss the mandate for the European Commission to finalise the joint political declaration on future UK/EU relations published in outline form on Wednesday with the intention of agreeing on a final form of the declaration by next Tuesday. Over the following 48 hours, member states will evaluate the document and sherpas should conclude the work on November 22, allowing the European Council to convene at 9.30am on November 25 ‘if nothing extraordinary happens’.
EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier addresses the press at the European Commission on November 14, 2018, after British Prime Minister May won the support of her cabinet for a draft divorce deal with the EU. - The European Union's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said on November 14 that "decisive progress" had been made towards a Brexit deal -- the key phrase to trigger a summit to sign it. Britain is set to leave the European Union in just over four months. The British cabinet gave its go-ahead to a draft deal with Brussels on November 14. (Photo by Emmanuel DUNAND / AFP)EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images

Mrs May secured Cabinet approval to proceed with her deal on UK withdrawal from the EU after an ‘impassioned’ five-hour meeting featuring dissent from a number of ministers on Wednesday. Reports suggested as many as a third of the 28 ministers attending voiced doubts about the draft agreement drawn up by UK and EU negotiators after 19 months of talks in Brussels.

No vote was taken but Cabinet backed the 585-page document – along with a shorter outline political declaration on future EU-UK trade relations – by consensus. However, the PM faced a backlash from Tory Brexiteers, with Jacob Rees-Mogg saying he could not support it, and hoped other Tory MPs would follow suit. Mrs May described the debate around the Cabinet table as ‘long, detailed and impassioned’, in a clear indication her proposals had come under intense challenge from ministers.

There were no threats to resign during the meeting, which ended with ministers toasting the agreement with red and white wine. Rumours of possible walkouts continued to swirl around Westminster, however, and the level of Brexiteer discontent has raised expectations of further letters of no confidence in Mrs May from Tory MPs. Sources said the delivery of letters to the chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee Sir Graham Brady was ‘imminent’, with a total of 48 needed to trigger a vote on Mrs May’s position. European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker issued a statement that ‘decisive progress’ had been made, clearing the way for the special summit for leaders of the remaining 27 EU states to give their stamp of approval, on November 25.

Speaking outside 10 Downing Street minutes after the crunch Cabinet meeting concluded, Mrs May acknowledged she faced ‘difficult days ahead’ as she prepares to seek the backing of the House of Commons in what is expected to be the toughest vote of her parliamentary career. She said: ‘I firmly believe, with my head and my heart, that this is a decision which is in the best interests of the United Kingdom.’ Senior UK Government officials said the final text of the withdrawal agreement featured important gains for the UK on the so-called backstop arrangements to be implemented if no trade deal can be reached. The outline political declaration – which will be subject to further negotiation over the coming weeks – expresses an ambition to achieve zero tariffs and no quotas in EU-UK trade, something the officials said no other major economy had achieved. The facilitated customs arrangements and ‘common rulebook’ proposed in Mrs May’s Chequers plan are replaced by the concept of a ‘sliding scale’ of commitments and market access, which means the UK would not be tied to an off-the-shelf deal of the kind previously offered to countries such as Canada.

‘We are for the very first time opening up a world where we can do the sort of trade deal the EU has never done before,’ one UK official said. Under backstop arrangements designed to keep the Irish border open, if no trade deal is agreed by the end of the transition period in December 2020, a temporary ‘EU-UK single customs territory’ would be established. This could be terminated only by mutual consent of Brussels and London but each side would be legally bound to make ‘best endeavours’ to bring it to an end by sealing a permanent deal on their future relations. Word of the year basically sums up the mood of 2018 There will be a provision to allow the two sides to extend the transition to a fixed date rather than activate the backstop. A five-person arbitration panel, with two representatives of each side and one independent member, will be set up to rule on disputes, with the chair chosen by drawing lots if members cannot agree. In Brussels, chief negotiator Michel Barnier said a free trade agreement should not take as long as it has with other countries and he believed it was ‘feasible’ to complete it within the transition period. Mrs May described the deal as ‘the best that could be negotiated’ but it was condemned by leading Brexiteers.

Via - Metro

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