26 Sep 2018

Representatives from EU member states meet to discuss no-deal Brexit

The EU member nations representatives met tonight to consider what should happen in the end of no deal. They felt they didn’t yet have authority to make the call on whether mini deals should be attempted around areas like aviation to avoid chaos and a bad image round the world.

Ominously for the UK, the man in charge for the European Commission is Martin Selmayr, seen by UK officials as the most hardline figure imaginable and described by one as “very much at the ‘punish them’ end of the market.”

A couple of weeks ago, the EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier, speaking to the UK’s Brexit Select Committee, suggested “no deal” would mean just that and there would be no mini negotiations to avoid a breakdown of smooth trade on certain sensitive areas (medicine supplies would be another). Some MPs listening to those words didn’t believe the EU negotiator, but it is not yet a done deal that situations would be salvaged and chaotic scenes would be avoided.

Tomorrow, Mr Barnier meets Jeremy Corbyn, fresh from his Conference announcement that Labour might just, in certain circumstances, back a deal Theresa May deal. As I wrote in the last blog, many senior figures find those circumstances very hard to imagine indeed, but wanted to tap the political tiller after Keir Starmer’s speech (one senior Labour source said it “might remind Keir who’s boss”).

The Labour leadership also wanted to make sure the still small possibility of Labour going anywhere near a government deal had been foreshadowed, just in case it landed on or extremely close to their preferred terrain.

The Tories said Labour was playing politics. There was certainly a lot of politics packed into that element of the speech.

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