Johnson’s cabinet gather to finalise blueprint for heavyweight trade fight with the EU

Monday 24th February 2020

UK business is holding its breath as the cabinet gathers today to dot the ‘i’s’ and cross the ’t’s’ of their negotiating plans for their imminent trade talks with the European Union.

The CBI has even gone so far as to appeal to the government directly, to avoid overwhelming businesses with unnecessary bureaucracy, when the UK leaves at the end of this year.

Much has already been spoken about the PM’s desire for a Canada-style trade deal, although it has been equally reported that the EU is vehemently against this idea, because of the geographic proximity of GBplc.

Of course, the negotiations between the two sides are expected to be every bit as bloody as Saturday night’s Fury/Wilder heavyweight match, with the PM hoping to be as triumphant as the Gypsy King.

In fact, the stakes are as high in this instance, because if Johnson is not able to dance deftly around the negotiating table, the UK could be knocked out of the EU ring without any deal whatsoever having to return to WTO rules.

This would be a disaster for UK businesses on two fronts. Firstly, the UK could find itself having to trade at a disadvantage with its European neighbours and secondly, would have to go through enormous change and uncertainty as these changes require vast amounts of paperwork and red-tape.

Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, has emphasised repeatedly that the Canadian model is simply not one that the EU would agree with, but it seems likely that it is just the mechanism that Johnson will unveil this week.

CBI director general, Dame Carolyn Fairbanks spoke out, saying, “The message is clear: keep trade easy and minimise red tape. For this reason, British firms back many of the government’s objectives set out in the negotiating mandate, such as on zero tariffs and data.”

She continued this direction with, “All efforts must be made in these talks to save exporters time and money, avoiding new paperwork, costs and delays.”

However, while this is certainly the government’s chosen direction, it seems impossible to see how this would be achievable.

Of course, it is those businesses in Northern Ireland that are still thought to be the most vulnerable, possessing as they do the only land border with the EU.

As the talks finally kick off with David Frost at the helm of the PM’s negotiating team, the Labour Party will be willing the time away, until they can form a really viable Opposition under the auspices of their new leader who is installed on April 4.

Meanwhile the nation is about to witness a heavyweight slugging match between two old rivals, with no-one counting on the outcome.

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