VIDEO BELOW (Text provided for those who prefer to read):
The UK Brexit secretary, David Davis says that the final EU exit deal is 90 per cent done!
In an interview by retired US army General Stan McChrystal of the McChrystal Group leadership consultancy – or as Rolling Stone called him; 'the Runaway General', Mr Davis said that the Brexit talks were going broadly as expected.
He also said that although Northern Ireland had thrown up some surprises for him, including Sinn Fein playing a stronger political role than he had foreseen, he had a 'reasonable idea' of where we'd end up.
And he went on to say:
“Some of it I’m not so certain on, but If I wrote on an envelope to give it to you now I could probably tell you 80-90 per cent of where we’ll end up.”
And he joked that he could specify the ten percent he didn't know – there are a few known unknowns, he said – borrowing from a famous Donald Rumsfeld quote.
The biggest factor here though is the lack of time, he said.
"One of the enemies in this is time. We have to deliver by the end of this year. We have to get the substance agreed by the end of the year.
"It won’t perfectly work that way but as far as possible we want to get the long term deal in place properly."
This positive statement about where we are with Brexit will come as welcome news to Brexiteers.
An audio recording of a Brussels think tank Q&A session has surfaced, of the Labour shadow international trade secretary, Barry Gardiner, admitting that the Northern Irish Border question has been 'played up', reports BBC News.
"But in an audio recording obtained by the BBC, Mr Gardiner appears to play down the risks of failing to resolve the border issue post-Brexit, and suggests both the Irish government and Sinn Fein may be exaggerating them.
"We must also recognise there are real economic reasons why people have played up the issue of the Irish border and the need to have the shibboleth of the Good Friday Agreement," he said." Reports the BBC.
Although I agree that certain people have used the Good Friday Agreement to leverage their Remain cause, on looking up the word 'shibboleth' I do question its use here.
And writing in Brexit Central, on the twentieth anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, the DUP MP for Belfast North, Nigel Dodds wrote:
"When key figures of what would ordinarily be called ‘the UK establishment’ think it is acceptable to casually cast about the potential for death and destruction in Northern Ireland as cheap political currency, it is they who need to look deep within themselves – not those who supported the cause of Leave. History will not judge them kindly and neither should it."
As the Brexit process moves on I am hoping that all those Remainers will think twice before invoking the memory of the Troubles to advance their ever diminishing cause.
The Financial Times reports that Norway's government has:
"….signalled its co-operation with British wishes to roll over trade arrangements with non-EU countries in the transition phase after Brexit."
The UK's non-EU trade agreements are currently covered by its membership of the EU, so will end on Brexit day next year.
The UK government wants those deals to continue during the transition period up to the end of 2020 but some trade experts feared that those countries would want some other concessions in return.
But the Norwegian finance minister, Siv Jensen, has indicated that her country has no objections to the proposals.
I suppose the main point here is that, where non-EU countries have a favourable deal to sell into the currently 28 EU member states, when the UK leaves the EU, they will want to ensure their exports into the subsequent EU27 plus the UK is either the same or even increased.
The EU27 will also not want to end up having to buy more goods from these non-EU member states, so will be keen to see the UK continue to buy its quota.
So, it does seem to make eminent sense to just roll over the deals for the transition period and see how things develop.