Guy Verhofstadt By Claude Truong-Ngoc : Wikimedia Commons - cc-by-sa-3.0

Guy Verhofstadt By Claude Truong-Ngoc : Wikimedia Commons – cc-by-sa-3.0

The EU Parliament's Brexit negotiator, Guy Verhofstadt, has claimed that until the Irish border question is settled the negotiations are 0% complete.

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The UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, says that the Brexit negotiations and its protocols are now 95% settled, with the Irish border issue being the final point to be addressed before her Chequers based Brexit In Name Only deal is complete.

However, the Belgian MEP and EU Parliament lead Brexit negotiator, Guy Verhofstadt, has rejected that assertion and now stated that without a solution to the Irish border question, the deal was 0% complete.

"Progress on the Brexit negotiations can be 90 per cent, 95 per cent or even 99 per cent." He said.

"But as long as there is no solution for the Irish border, as long as the Good Friday agreement is not fully secured, for us in our parliament progress is 0 per cent."

Now, there's a guy whose glass must always be half empty.

You could say that of every deal ever negotiated. The progress towards every car and every house ever purchased could be termed to be always always at zero percent progress until the contract was signed by both parties.

But this is of course just more political manoeuvring and use of political language to keep the Irish border central to everything in order to keep trying to use it for political leverage.

The Irish border issue can be settled using technology and political will and I suspect that, in the end, that is what will happen.

In the meantime, as important as the Irish border issue is, it is something that can and will be solved to the benefit of the Republic of Ireland, the EU and the UK.

But the only fly in the ointment is the continued use of it as a political football by the EU, the Republic and our very own Remainers – especially those within our establishment!

Now, there has been a lot of talk about this so-called 'idea' of an extension to the Brexit transition or implementation period, with some confusion and clouding over where this 'idea' originated.

Well, according to a Guardian report it came from Theresa May.

"Theresa May is to face fresh questions over her Brexit plans after the European parliament was informed it was the British prime minister who first raised the possibility of extending the transition period beyond 2020 with the EU’s leaders." said the report.

The President of the EU Council, Donald Tusk, said:

"Since Prime Minister May mentioned the idea of extending the transition period, let me repeat that if the UK decided that such an extension would be helpful to reach a deal, I am sure that the leaders would be ready to consider it positively."

The ramifications of this are that if it was May that asked then it will be for the UK to offer concessions to the final deal in oder to get the EU to agree to it. That's how negotiations work.

Going on past performance the EU is hardly likely to just give the UK what it wants, be in no doubt it will extract a price for every second that transition phase is extended, at our request.

And further, according to a report in The Sun, UK Brexit negotiators have caved in to demands that from the EU that the ECJ must be the final arbiter over Brexit legal disputes.

"British negotiators have promised Brussels that euro judges will get the final say on the majority of legal disputes arising from the Brexit withdrawal pact." Says the 'paper.

This would, of course, mean that the UK would remain under EU jurisdiction for many years to come, so Jacob Rees-Mogg asked the question in Prime Minister's Questions this lunchtime.

"There have been reports today that the government is willing to agree that the European Court of Justice would be the final arbiter in most cases arising from Brexit.

"As this would be inconsistent with the prime Minister's previous commitments, will she authoritatively deny it."

Theresa May responded by saying that although she sees many reports on claims about what is happening in relation to Brexit, but she said:

"I haven't seen those particular reports, but if they are as he has suggested, then they are wrong."

Let's hope that the PM is right on this, or maybe she's not as up to speed on what she's agreeing to, as she thinks she is.

But she might face a stormy ride later at the Tory party meeting of the party's back bench 1922 Committee.

After speculation of whether she would show up it seems that she has decided to attend. And the whips of course will make sure that there is plenty of pro-Theresa May noises made in there.

But, as Isabel Hardman said in the Spectator:

"But if May leaves an apparently successful meeting feeling she has resolved matters, then she should think again."

Why, because it's not just Brexit her MPs are upset about, it turns out she hasn't been communicating with her back benchers very productively either.

So, even if things do sound OK at tonight's meeting, it might buy her time. But it will definitely not be a sign that all is well.

Sources:

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brexit-deal-latest-irish-border-verhofstadt-eu-parliament-theresa-may-a8599116.html

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/oct/24/theresa-may-first-raise-option-brexit-transition-period-extension-eu

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/7566796/brexit-legal-disputes-negotiators-cave-in/

https://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2018/10/will-theresa-may-clash-with-backbenchers-at-the-1922-committee-tonight/

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