Today he was to leave the negotiating table and go. Now Boris Johnson is being bullied for cowardice once again. So where is Brexit going now?


BRUSSELS (Aftenposten): Everything was ready for the big Brexit final. But as so often before: Boris Johnson breaks his own promises, the EU is furious and Brexit is postponed.

French President Emmanuel Macron is among the EU countries that will not give the British anything in the final phase. “We are not sacrificing French fishermen for a Brexit agreement,” Macron said on his way to the EU summit. Foto: Christian Hartmann/ Reuters/ NTB

This week’s EU summit in Brussels was to be the win or lose of the Brexit saga. If you had time to approve an agreement before the New Year, this was the last chance. And if no agreement was reached by October 15, Boris Johnson would leave the negotiating table for good.

Then the British would rather spend the last weeks until New Year minimizing the damaging effects of a non-agreement. Which, of course, made the video an overnight sensation, according to the British Prime Minister.

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This is not the first time Boris Johnson has turned around with threats, empty slogans and lies. So shall we believe in him this time?

Bullyed by EU chief negotiator

– I notice that this was “the third unilateral deadline” Boris Johnson has threatened since this summer, without it bringing us closer to a solution.

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier received a clear signal to intensify negotiations with the British. Yet again. Foto: Virginia Mayo / AP/ NTB

This was stated by the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier in an unusually sour tone, when he briefed the EU countries’ ambassadors before the summit.

The Frenchman Barnier received good support from another Frenchman, Emmuael Macron.

“We are not sacrificing French fishermen for a Brexit agreement,” he said on his way to the EU summit.

And the British responded with an equally musty tone back.

– The EU is delaying the process. Their negotiating strategy is, as always, to postpone things until the deadline, in the hope of “softening” us, the British diplomat who briefed the international press said.

– It will not happen this time, he added.

So what in the world is happening now?

1. No Brexit, but full drama.

Brexit was supposed to be the overriding issue at this summit, but because the parties are still far apart, Brexit was only a brief briefing from the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier. And the status was: lean progress.

Instead, the meeting started with new drama when it became known that the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, must be quarantined for the second time. On Thursday, one of her employees tested positive for covid-19.

Boris Johnson may break this weekend

According to British diplomats, Boris Johnson can choose to break off the negotiations this weekend, even though only the British now believe in such a scenario.

“Boris Johnson wants to postpone the decision to possibly break off the negotiations until he has received a thorough briefing from his people in Brussels on what the EU summit has decided on the way forward,” the diplomat said.

3. Struggling with who to listen to

According to British diplomats, Boris Johnson has still not decided what he wants – to break or continue.

Boris Johnson is also torn between two of his closest advisers. On one ear, Johnson has special adviser Dominic Cummings, who believes the UK will do well without an agreement. On the other ear, he has Britain’s Brexit negotiator, David Frost, who believes Britain is best served by getting a deal.

4. New EU summits

As early as Thursday night, the declaration on Brexit came: The EU’s chief negotiator was given the green light to intensify negotiations in the coming weeks. This has been the EU’s strategy all along. They will not be accused of throwing away the cards and being blamed for the British crashing out of the EU.

Thus, it is already time for a new EU summit in Berlin on 15 November. It was supposed to be an EU-China summit. It can quickly be about something else.

5. New negotiating mandate

Several countries have argued that a new negotiating mandate can resolve the deadlocked negotiations. There were no signals about it now.

Several EU countries have also signaled that if this is to happen, the British must withdraw the controversial “internal market bill”, a controversial bill that violates the agreement already reached between the EU and the United Kingdom last year.

6. Who blinks first?

According to EU sources, there are no longer any technical difficulties stopping an agreement. Now it’s all about politics. But so far neither party wanted to show weakness or blink first.

These are the issues the parties must compromise on if there is to be an agreement:

1. The British must drop the proposal that violates the already signed withdrawal agreement. The EU can never compromise on this.

2. The EU must drop the requirement that EU fishermen have the full right to fish in British waters.

Northern Ireland and the peace agreement can never be shaken.

It will probably not be an early Christmas holiday for Brexit negotiators this year either.

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