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FOCUS - Osservatorio Brexit N. 1 - 21/06/2017

 Let them speak (again?!)!

With only a few weeks before the EU Council’s meeting on Brexit, set for 18 October 2018, the UK’s negotiating position on Brexit has achieved some clarity but no less disagreement, and so the outcome of Brexit still remains unclear. The Chequers Deal – the long-awaited UK exit strategy which brought the resignation of former Brexit Secretary, David Davis, and former Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson – failed to convince anyone, except the Prime Minister. It surely has not convinced the EU. In the informal EU summit in Salzburg on 19 and 20 September - picturesquely described by UK media as an “ambush” which left the PM “humiliated” - EU leaders, led by Donald Tusk and Emmanuel Macron, rejected the Chequers plan. Truth is, the Prime Minister had already been warned that her plan could not be considered an “arrival point”, but only the stepping stone for further negotiations that would address the issues of the Northern Ireland border and of the unity of the four freedoms. Nor has Chequers convinced the majority of the Tories, whose discontent with the plan grew into exasperation after the events in Salzburg. The EU’s rejection of the plan arguably wiped out the fragile argument on which Mrs May relied for support: that Chequers was the only way out of a ‘no deal’ scenario. In a 4,500 column in the Daily Telegraph, the now former Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, free from the constitutional restrictions of the convention on collective Cabinet responsibility, which requires Government Ministers to keep to the party line, accused the Government and civil service of a “pretty invertebrate performance” in negotiations and said there had been “a collapse of will by the British establishment to deliver on the mandate of the people”. The former Foreign Secretary further qualified the Chequers proposals as “the intellectual error of believing that we can be half-in, half-out: that it is somehow safer and easier for large parts of our national life to remain governed by the EU even though we are no longer in the EU”. The Salzburg events thus make the possibility of a leadership challenge to the Prime Minister more tangible, with the same Boris Johnson calling on the party to take a stance on the plan to “change the course of the negotiations and do justice to the ambitions and potential of Brexit”... (segue)

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