Brexit negotiations: will London break its promises?

Even before the post-Brexit negotiations that will define the EU's future relations with the UK have begun, Boris Johnson's government is already threatening to break them off. London says it has no intention of adhering to EU regulations in the future, and reserves the right to withdraw from the talks if a free trade agreement is not tangible by June. Europe's commentatos voice indignation.

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Corriere della Sera (IT) /

Fear of the photo finish

London correspondent Luigi Ippolito explains in Corriere della Sera why Johnson's government is now once again talking about a "no deal":

“In this way the British are hoping to avoid having their backs to the wall in the photo finish negotiations shortly before December 31, when the current transition period expires. ... And here the EU is seeing red: the 27 want to prevent the UK from becoming a dangerous competitor by aggressively deregulating its economy; and are demanding that the 'level playing field' be respected. They therefore accuse Johnson of having broken his word after signing the joint political declaration at the end of last year.”

Irish Examiner (IE) /

Britain turning into a rogue state

The British government wants to break its promises, the Irish Examiner comments angrily:

“This new position, this dismissal of the withdrawal agreement Mr Johnson concluded with the EU just last October, is shocking but hardly surprising. It is hardly the first or second U-turn in his backstory. It is as if Mr Johnson imagines one agreement after another is just a stepping stone that can be forgotten once it has served its purpose. ... It is distressing but now plausible to argue that Britain, under the tightening influence of hard right Brexiteers, has assumed the characteristics of a rogue state and an increasingly unreliable neighbour. How very sad.”

Die Welt (DE) /

The British need to make their choice

The daily Die Welt sees the threats from the UK as a sign that

“Prime Minister Boris Johnson is seeking a rather loose relationship with the EU. So now it is once more up to the Europeans to bring the British back down to earth. And make it clear to them that one thing - unhindered access to the EU market - cannot be achieved without the other - the adaptation of EU regulations. In the end the British will have to decide what is more important to them: the flowery purity of the principle of sovereignty - or economic advantages.”

Die Presse (AT) /

Not good advertising for itself

Die Presse wonders how this Britain thinks it will find attractive trading partners:

“Trade agreements are ultimately the best advertisement for potential international partners. If the British government doesn't make concessions it will find it difficult to quickly replace the EU's many international trade agreements with its own. After all, who wants to cooperate with a country that has no understanding for a partner's established norms and is always focused solely on its own competitive advantage?”

Le Soir (BE) /

Arrogance cannot lead to success

Despite a comfortable parliamentary majority, Boris Johnson is going too far when he disregards the declaration signed in October which commits to close partnership with Brussels, Le Soir believes:

“In London it's hoped that this radical break with the EU, although painful at first, will provide a salutary shock to the British economy. Under these circumstances, and unless this populist-sounding ideological line is softened, a clash seems inevitable. A 'no deal' will be expensive. For both sides. Our British 'friends, neighbours and allies', as Barnier says, will be reminded that the splendid isolation of Britain and its 65 million inhabitants will seriously hinder its access to the European internal market and its 500 million consumers.”

The Daily Telegraph (GB) /

Brussels slept through the Brexit

The EU should start treating Britain like an independent state, The Daily Telegraph demands:

“The EU still seems to treat the UK like an exiting country trying to negotiate the terms of its withdrawal. It has not quite clocked the UK has already left. We are a third party wanting to do a deal with the EU, not applying to remain in its legal orbit. When Japan, the US or any other country has negotiated with the EU they are treated as independent nation states. There is never any question of those countries having to follow EU rules and regulations - so why is the EU demanding the UK does just that?”

The Irish Independent (IE) /

Ireland needs a stable government now

Ireland's parties need to focus on getting a new government up and running after the general election so the country is prepared for the post-Brexit negotiations, The Irish Independent demands:

“We should be under no illusions but that the Irish Sea border will again become a bargaining chip. The clouds are darkening over the trade talks. ... Internal party power-plays must not take priority in the face of gathering uncertainty. Throughout Brexit, Ireland enjoyed maximum solidarity from the EU. A show of solidarity from our own political leaders in a demonstration of enthusiasm to form a government instead of running away from it might be in order - not as a last resort, but as a first duty.”