Brexit: Bonnell warns UK 'can't take advantage' of EU
Brexit talks have reached a stalemate, with several issues getting in the way of the UK and EU securing a trade deal. This week Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it was “very, very likely” trade talks with the European Union would fail. However, Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha González Laya has given a plea to both sides, urging “we need a deal”.
At the EU Summit in Brussels this week, European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen was quoted by an EU official as telling leaders of the bloc’s 27 member states prospects for a deal had worsened.
The official said: “The probability of a no deal is higher than of a deal.”
Talks have been extended to Sunday, December 13, with both sides agreeing a decision on the future of discussions needs to be made.
However, some EU member states would be impacted more than others in the event of a no deal.
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One such country is Spain, as its close relationship with the UK would face turmoil.
More than 360,000 British ex-pats have set roots in Spain, and the countries enjoy close trade and economic ties.
In 2019, more than 18 million Britons visited Spain, which is one of Europe’s most popular holiday destinations.
The UK leaving the EU without a deal would have consequences for businesses, trade, and set up the likelihood of a border in the British territory of Gibraltar.
Speaking to POLITICO, Ms González Laya said of Brexit: “What it has shown at the heart of it is … the illusion of independence and the need to manage interdependence — and this is why we need a deal because we need to manage our interdependence.”
She added: “From a very pragmatic Spain, we have always maintained that a deal was more desirable than breaking up without a deal.”
Ms Johnson and Ms von der Leyen have given negotiators until Sunday evening to break the impasse at talks which are deadlocked.
The sticking points are fishing rights and EU demands for Britain to face consequences if in the future it diverges from the bloc’s rules.
In the case of a no deal on trade, Britain would lose zero-tariff and zero-quota access to the European single market of 450 million consumers overnight.
Ms González Laya this would be disastrous for Spain, both for people and businesses.
She said: “We looked at the consequences of what this no deal would mean.
“In Spain, it’s pretty clear: there will be a border — in Gibraltar … this will become the external border of the European Union and this will have an impact for Gibraltarians as well as for Spaniards in the region.”
In terms of trade, the Spanish Foreign Minister explained: ”We know what it will mean for shipments of fruits and vegetables.
“We know what it will mean for the activities of banks and automobile factories.
“And because we know all of this — it’s called interdependence — our obligation is to find a deal. Now that’s not a deal at any cost.”
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez echoed this sentiment in October, saying a deal is “essential” for his country’s economic stability at a moment of deep crisis.
He said: “For Spain, a Brexit agreement is essential, not only because of the historical relations we have with the United Kingdom but also because of the social and economic interests that we share.”
Preparations have been ramped up in the case of a no deal, following a deadlock in talks this week.
Both sides say they want to agree to arrangements to cover nearly $1 trillion in annual trade, however, both sides have said a no deal is the likeliest option.
Mr Johnson said: “It’s looking very, very likely we’ll have to go for a solution that I think will be wonderful for the UK. We’ll be able to do exactly what we want from Jan. 1.
“It will obviously be different from what we set out to achieve. If there’s a big offer, a big change in what they’re saying then I must say that I’m yet to see it.”
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