Boris Stable but Negotiations Lag
After 3 nights in St Thomas Hospital’s intensive care unit, Prime Minister Johnson recovered enough to be allowed to leave the hospital. He is staying at Chequers, the country retreat that UK prime ministers can use. He needs to get stronger. Currently, the expectation is that he will not return to the office for at least a month. In the meantime, Dominic Raab is in charge of running the government. Hopefully, Johnson recovers soon and can get back to work again.
Read more on this in this article by Politico.
Negotiations Affected by Corona Crisis
The focus of most European Union countries is on containing and fighting the coronavirus. Although these negotiations have not stopped, there is less focus on negotiating a trade deal with the United Kingdom. Because of the fact that face to face meetings are not an option, it is going much slower and less efficient. There is also a lack of secure online conference systems to make it even more difficult.
While the United Kingdom is still set on an agreement before the end of this year, the European Union has a different point of view. The Guardian reports:
Boris Johnson’s plan to seal a deal with Brussels on the future relationship with the UK by the end of December has been described as “fantasy land” by EU officials, as a leaked letter revealed the scale of the bloc’s inability to function during the coronavirus pandemic.
The December timeline for agreeing a deal with the EU “which was already hopelessly optimistic” was described as “like fantasy land”, by one source.
The planned schedule of negotiating rounds on the future relationship was abandoned after the first week due to the pandemic. The UK’s chief negotiator, David Frost, will speak to his EU counterpart, Michel Barnier, next week to try to agree a new timetable and method for the talks.
The German ambassador to the EU wrote: “Video conferences, even if they can be carried out, will not be able to replace physical meetings on an equal footing. No formal quorum, no marginalised conversations, no confidentiality of the negotiations, no interpreting. Difficulties in text work.”
Read the full article here.
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