While the politicians indulge in a bout of mutual back patting after Britain and the EU finally found some common ground in Brexit talks, let’s look at what’s really going on.
The negotiations can really be summed up in some oft repeated phrases spouted on both sides of The Channel.
Where’s the ball now?
Britain and the EU alike have repeatedly taken turns at making offers to each other – the words ‘the ball is in their court’ is the trigger inviting the other side to make a proposal.
But where’s the ball now? Mid-Channel, London or Brussels – some would even say over the Northern Ireland border.
It’s definitely in the air, somewhere.
It’s clear the British wants a tailor-made trade deal that is advantageous to them, while it’s the last thing the EU wants because of the smoke signals it might send to other countries seeking to leave the bloc.
Hard and soft Brexits
Who has any idea what they are? Brexit means Brexit, says British Prime Minister Theresa May, but she also talks about hard and soft Brexits. Will someone explain please.
And what is the cliff edge? Apparently, we’re near one and must step back if we can.
Britain’s not leaving Europe
The definition is geographical rather than political and economic. Britain is leaving the EU, but of course an island country cannot up-anchor and sail off nearer to dock in New York. Britain will still be a next-door neighbour even if the grumpy people don’t want closer ties.
Dividing the Eurocake
Britain can’t have the cake and eat it. Why not? People buy cakes and eat them all the time.
Nothing is agreed to everything is agreed. Effectively, despite the hard-talking, until the EU votes on the final Brexit document that details all the negotiation points, nothing is agreed.
No one has really agreed when Britain leaves the EU.
The key date is March 29, 2019 – but that is now December 28, 2020 as Britain and the EU have agreed a period of grace that means Britain still pays in while enjoying rights to the single market.