David Davis (L) and Michel Barnier: The body language says it all – we need them; they don’t need us [Image: Reuters/Yves Herman].
It looks like pro-remain site In Facts has got it right – the only progress Mrs May was able to announce in her update to Parliament was conceding that the European court of justice would continue to have jurisdiction over the UK during the “implementation period” of around two years, during which the UK will go through a transition from full EU membership to a completely separate nation state.
So this is a further sign of Mrs May’s – and the Tory negotiating team’s – weakness. Right?
Don’t expect any progress from the next round of Brexit talks, which start on Monday. Theresa May isn’t in a position to make the concrete concessions that will be needed to move the negotiations forward, and the EU won’t trust a nod and a wink from a wounded leader.
The prime minister hoped she could unblock the stalled negotiations with her Florence speech two weeks ago. That now seems almost a lifetime away. Boris Johnson’s exocet missiles, May’s own disastrous speech at the Tory conference and the plot to kick her out as leader have shattered what little authority she had.
The Florence speech involved no fewer that eight u-turns. This was enough for Michel Barnier, the EU Commission’s negotiator, to pronounce there was a “new dynamic” in the talks. But it was always clear that we would have to make more concessions before EU leaders agreed to authorise discussions on our future deal.
After Florence it looked like May was preparing those concessions. A week ago The Times said she was going to accept divorce costs of £40 billion. She would also spell out a way to “ensure legal force is given to decisions by EU judges on the residency rights of Europeans living in Britain”. The EU summit in two weeks would then agree to let Barnier discuss the transitional deal which the prime minister has finally started to realise is needed to ensure the economy doesn’t fall off a cliff when we quit the EU in March 2019.
A week is an awfully long time in politics. Now The Telegraph is reporting that the UK will not be making any more concessions on money in next week’s talks.
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