Boris Johnson: Brexit deal is ‘glad tidings of great joy’
The Government is touting the deal unveiled on Christmas Eve as having delivered on the Prime Minister’s election pledge to “get Brexit done”. However, Professor David Blake suggested Lord David Frost and his team had paid too much attention to fishing rights and not enough attention to the issue of access for financial services, during negotiations – a decision he feared could have consequences further down the line.
The Professor of Economics at Cass Business School told Express.co.uk: “The real issue for me is the difference between the treatment of goods and services.
“We have a zero-tariff deal in goods trade where the EU has a £100bn surplus, but in services – where we have a £20 billion surplus – there isn’t a solid agreement.
“This is especially damaging for financial services.”
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The UK was losing financial services free trade ‘passporting’ and this is being replaced by a less comprehensive and secure ‘equivalence’ agreement which can be withdrawn by the EU at 30 days’ notice, Prof Blake explained.
He added: “The negotiators have spent a lot of time agreeing the terms for fishing which has a five-and-a-half year transition – but we have no corresponding transitional agreement for services.
“For me this is the biggest weakness in this deal.
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“We have the world’s top financial centre, but the French strategy is to try to persuade large chunks of business to move to Paris.
“By not giving services the same long term security as the goods sector, the deal will deliberately weaken the City of London.”
Prof Blake said: “It’s unbelievable that this has been left out and our negotiating team has accepted this.”
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We should not forget that at the heart of this is a long term plan to make Brexit so harsh that the UK will beg to rejoin the European Union at some future date
Professor David Blake
“Can’t they see that this will put pressure on banks in London to open branches in the EU and gradually over time this will suck away London’s financial strength to Paris and Frankfurt?
“We should not forget that at the heart of this is a long term plan to make Brexit so harsh that the UK will beg to rejoin the European Union at some future date – and there will be many Remainers itching for this to happen.”
Nevertheless, he acknowledged: “The deal is much better than I initially feared given how bad things were at the beginning of the year.
“We had the trap of the Withdrawal Agreement – and we’d given away all our leverage, having agreed to pay the £40billion divorce bill and given away our assets in the European Investment Bank.”
The agreement, which is set out in the course of a 1,256-page document, will go before Parliament on Wednesday, in advance of the final day of the post-Brexit transition period on December 31.
Given Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has already indicated his party will back legislation to ratify it, the deal is all but guaranteed to get the thumbs-up.
However, with the eurosceptic European Research Group (ERG) having reconvened its so-called Star Chamber of legal experts to go through it in minute detail, it would be tricky for Mr Johnson politically if they identify aspects they do not like.
Lord Frost apparently managed to persuade EU negotiators led by counterpart Michel Barnier to drop its insistence that the European Court of Justice (ECJ) adjudicates in any future disputes.
However, it is not entirely clear yet how such disagreements will be resolved, with any format seen to be skewed in favour Brussels likely to be a major bone of contention.
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