Brexit in the Age of Covid

Brexit in the Age of Covid

By David Runciman and Catherine Carr

We have passed the deadline for any extension to the Brexit trade negotiations - now it's 31 December or bust. We catch up with three of our resident experts to explore what this means, what the chances are of getting a deal and where the sticking points might be. Plus we asses the impact of the Covid crisis on the fate of Brexit and its implications for what might happen later this year. With Anand Menon,

Catherine Barnard and Helen Thompson.

Talking Points: 

The formal legal position is that it’s not possible to seek an extension of the Brexit transition period.

Perhaps the most likely thing is that—if there is a trade deal before the end of the year—it has a longer transition period built into the front of it.

A second COVID spike in the autumn could make no deal more likely.

Are there things in the law that politics can’t fix?The COVID crisis has made the gulf between the two sides over the issue of state aid bigger than it already was, which reduces the space for fudging. You also have to deal with the Northern Ireland protocol.

The UK doesn’t have a constitutional regime that protects things like workers rights and environmental standards in the way that treaty law effectively does in the EU.

It’s hard to imagine that any UK government would agree constitutional rules about these matters as part of a trade agreement with the EU or any individual state.At the heart of Brexit lies a claim to reassert the more traditional UK constitution against the constitutional constraints that EU membership generated.

The Johnson government is not prepared to accept the EU’s argument about it’s economic sphere of influence.

This is a question for the EU as much as it is for the UK.Both sides are starting from competing premises; would more time be enough to sort this out? This begs a larger question about the EU’s relationship to its immediate neighborhood.

The German constitutional court decision was a blow to the ECB and ECJ.

This gives the green light to those disaffected in Hungary and Poland.Do EU divisions make it more or less likely that they will fallout over Brexit? Macron’s position seems harder than it was towards the end of last year. There is no evidence he wants to move on the question of state aid.It seems unlikely that all 27 member states will have the same attitude towards a sovereign UK. That doesn’t necessarily mean that Britain can play them off each other.

Couching the debate as deal vs. no deal instead of good deal vs. bad deal may give the Johnson government some wiggle room.

Even if the UK winds up making significant concessions on trade, for example.

Mentioned in this Episode: 

Talking with Adam Tooze about the German constitutional court rulingThe UK in a Changing EuropeThe Merkel interview from June 

Further Learning:

George Peretz on the Northern Irish ProtocolMore on state aid as a stumbling blockWhat is the level playing field? <a...
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