Brexit Bites, 10 November 2017

Nov 09, 2017

The sixth round of Brexit talks are underway in Brussels and there are mixed reports on whether there can finally be a breakthrough.  In other developments, its reported that the EU are demanding that Northern Ireland remain within the Customs Union and Single Market on Brexit while the UK government has been asked to release “secret” Brexit papers by Tuesday.

Can talks finally move on to trade?

The sixth round of Brexit talks take place in Brussels over the course of today and yesterday.  Various media reports have indicated that a breakthrough is looking impossible by year end with rumours emerging that the EU don’t want to give UK false hope that the talks can progress to trade before December so have not rushed into preparing documents for trade talks.

It would seem that the only way to break the deadlock is for the UK to offer a financial settlement that the EU will be happy with. Latest reports put the bill at over €60 billion.  The UK has indicated that it would pay around a third of this amount and that it is going through what it owes line by line.  There are reports that the EU has given the UK an informal deadline of three weeks to make an offer on a settlement.

Its 16 months since the Brexit referendum and the same length of time until Brexit day and it is difficult to say that any substantial progress has been made in the talks. The UK government has had other concerns this week with the emergence of several scandals and trying to forge a Brexit policy past a fragile and divided cabinet has become an increasingly difficult task.

Looking ahead to year end, there must be a desire on both sides to move talks on to trade. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar struck an optimistic tone in the Dáil on Wednesday when he said he was “more optimistic” than he was before the EU October summit.

Can Northern Ireland remain within Customs Union and Single Market?

The Financial Times are reporting that the EU has demanded that Northern Ireland remains within the Customs Union and Single Market on Brexit in order to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland. The European Commission is reported to have circulated a document on Wednesday saying that this position must be attained in order to allow North/South cooperation and to protect the peace process. This proposal is in direct contrast to the UK’s position and contradicts the Northern Ireland Secretary’s recent comments on this issue.  Perhaps more will be revealed when the current round of negotiations conclude today.

Public papers

Following a vote in UK parliament, the government is preparing to show MP’s “secret” papers that spell out the impact that Brexit will have on the UK economy. The problem is however that the government would prefer to keep this information out of the public domain.  

Whether the papers will actually be released, in their current form or a redacted version, is yet to be revealed.  The government has reportedly been given until Tuesday to release the papers or explain why it hasn’t done so. The government is keen however not to damage the Brexit negotiations while also protecting the national interests.

Brexit shorts

  • Bank of England raises interest rate for first time in 10 years to curb inflation
  • It’s reported that 95 percent of businesses in Ireland don’t have a Brexit plan
  • The Tánaiste urges business to plan for Brexit
  • Brexit will hit the north of England hardest, says report
  • Brexit can still be reversed, says author of Article 50


Read all of our Brexit updates on the dedicated Brexit section of our website.