Another round of talks
Michel Barnier’s arrival in London marks the latest round of talks on the UK’s post-Brexit trading relationship with the EU. The EU’s chief negotiator will talk with the UK counterpart Lord Frost, with less than a week to go until the UK’s self-imposed deadline for agreeing a deal. The talks taking place today are described as informal but any subsequent statements will be monitored for signs of progress ironing out the differences that remain.
The Environment Bill has gone missing
It’s now been over 200 days since the Environment Bill was last seen in Parliament. What was once dubbed by then-Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers as “a truly landmark piece of legislation” was put on pause by the Government on 19th March due to covid. It is the first major piece of environmental legislation in over 20 years, and its ambition would help the UK’s reputation as well as its environment. Not only that, if the Bill isn’t passed by the end of the Brexit transition period, there will be a significant gap in the UK’s ability to enforce environmental law, thereby hurtling the UK’s environmental legislation back decades, instead of forward.
Barnier calls Boris’ bluff
Michel Barnier made the arguably substantiated claim that Boris Johnson would U-turn on assertion that the Brussels summit next week is his deadline to reach a deal, should a deal not have been reached by then. Johnson made the claim as part of his hard-negotiating persona in the negotiations, which have so far seen very little success for the UK.
Internal market bill
Scotland has voted to reject the Conservatives’ controversial internal market bill, by 90 votes to 28. Only Conservatives voted against the motion, that said the bill ‘constrains the competence of the Scottish Parliament and breaches international law’. Constitution Secretary Mike Russell said the bill would “fundamentally undermine” the Scottish Parliament.
One of the main sticking points in negotiations is that the UK wants full access to EU markets to sell its fish, but doesn’t want to grant the EU full access to UK waters for EU fishing fleets. Brussels is now planning to divide up the UK’s old fishing rights to give to those European fishermen who could lose out from Brexit. This is after Barnier this week urged EU nations to temper its demands in fishing negotiations.