Simon Usherwood Profile picture
Nov 7, 2017 17 tweets 4 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
A brief reminder on why the next two months matter in #A50 land

The Oct #EUCO decided that while there was progress on Phase I of talks, there wasn't sufficient progress

That meant no opening of Phase II talks in #A50, just preparation of a mandate for them, as a bone to show willing/good faith

UK needs Phase II to start in Dec, so that's there are 10 mths to conclude a deal (remember it needs 6mths to ratify pre-March 19)

As any passing negotiator will tell you, 10 mths isn't long for this kind of thing, esp as this isn't a usual kind of thing

Even the simplest Phase II arrangements - 'just' taking UK out of institutions, keeping everything else in transition - is fraught

with political risks and problems (imagine the UK headlines, if nothing else).

So a Dec move to Phase II is hard enough. But if there's still no 'sufficient progress' by Dec, it's March 18 before the next evaluation

That means only 7mths, plus the added bad odour over a further 3mths of messing about.

#EUCO used its one bone already (the mandate), so Dec mtg might lead to a hard Xmas, with no presents for anyone

The hard version of this is set out in @jonlis1's tweet yesterday

He focused on back-end risks to all this, but the main message I'd take is that things are still open now: this is the best moment left

HMG can (and might) be pushing more on finances and citizens' rights in coming rounds, but it needs to do that sooner rather than later

Which is why all the stuff going on in Westminster matters. Bandwidth taken up with scandals/crisis mtg can't be used to advance #A50

(unless you take a more Machiavellian view that these crises divert attention from making #A50 concessions...

which assumes a level of planning/strategising not immediately borne out by the evidence)

In short, if domestic agenda gets worse, then so too do chances for #A50 progress


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More from @Usherwood

Oct 9, 2018
While I kick my heels for a meeting, let's think about Brexit and inevitability:

Let's start off by noting that I'm not a big one for inevitability, in any political situation

It's a throwing up of the hands and submitting to forces beyond our control: 'there's nothing to be done'

Personally, I think there's always something to be done

Read 18 tweets
Oct 8, 2018
So, what to make of today?

Over the weekend, lots of +ve optics and warm words, to get mvt from the conference-season slump

But lots of reining in during the day

Partly, it's sensible expectation mgt: one might have had the impression that suddenly everything was hunky-dory and the work of a moment

Read 13 tweets
Oct 5, 2018
Possibly more for me than for you, let's try to pull this week together a bit:

Let's start with the EU side

Having largely kept heads down during conference season, yesterday's Tusk/Varadkar presser demonstrated that EU is keeping the pressure on

The tension seems to be between COM/EUCO and IE, as @pmdfoster explained well yesterday: IE making conciliatory noises, central EU bodies pushing EU integrity line

Read 17 tweets
Oct 4, 2018
Let's just work through this one, given the attention it's getting
By taking the CON rebels' terminology, Tusk is making a point

But what point?
As we know from the infamous Barnier Steps, the EU offer is conditioned on UK red lines as much as anything

Read 8 tweets
Oct 4, 2018
Interesting to see how it's just as UK debate sits down for a bit on Brexit, to recover from conference season, negotiations w EU step up
If past fortnight has been about domestic management, then coming fortnight will be about UK working w EU to find ways to get mvt on WA/PD
Because of that hiatus after Salzburg, there's now v.little time left to achieve mvt in time for Oct #EUCO, hence the rush now
Read 11 tweets
Oct 3, 2018
So, the CON party conference and Brexit:

Back in Sept, there was much talk about this being a crunch point in the UK debate, as May would come under fire for Chequers and there would be scope for changes/realignments/whatever

Certainly that first bit has happened, with numerous op-eds over the weekend and assorted fringe events (inc. yesterday's Johnson speech)

Read 15 tweets

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