The Brexit timetable
Alex Barker reports in the FT that the EU is planning to spend until Christmas solely focusing on the technical issues of the Article 50 discussions - a timetable we think is realistic given the complexities of the divorce.
We are not entirely sure whether this represents a setback for the UK, whose Brexit minister indicated a preference for parallel negotiations towards a fast-track deal to be completed by the end of 2018. We, too, thought a fast-track trade was technically possible, given that we are starting from a position of complete convergence, but this obviously requires the goodwill of both sides. The EU does not seem willing to go down this route, which is why we think a time-limited transitional deal is likely.
Michel Barnier will prioritise the costs of Brexit and the rights of EU citizens in the UK, and vice versa, in the first stages of the negotiations.
Five diplomats confirmed the year-end timetable, the article says. One of the first goals is to agree a basic methodology for the Brexit agreement. Once that is completed, the next stage in the talks is to negotiate an interim deal, on the basis for the likely future FTA.
In the UK, the biggest event has been a speech by Tony Blair, whose declared intent has been to usurp Brexit. Sebastian Payne makes the point that if Blair wants to influence the events, he will need to accept that Brexit is happening. The timing of his speech is all wrong - after the Labour Party decided to endorse the government’s Article 50 bill, which is now in the House of Lords. One should also not underestimate that Blair is loathed in many sections of his party.
“My advice to Mr Blair: hop in a car and drive north. Go to Trimdon, in your former constituency of Sedgefield, and see how the 60 per cent of Brexit voters there find your message. Then you will see the difficulty facing the Labour party. Its core base is disappearing as voters no longer listen to it.”