British authorities have announced that November will be the deadline for finalizing a deal on the country’s departure from the European Union.
Cabinet office minister David Lidington said Saturday that the EU and the United Kingdom should agree on a deal for Britain’s withdrawal from the bloc in November by the latest so that the deal could go through parliamentary approvals on both sides.
“This is not something that can simply be left to the 11th hour,” Lidington said on the sidelines of Italy’s annual Ambrosetti conference on European affairs.
The official added that London had a well-developed strategy for a no-deal Brexit scenario although it remained committed to achieving a deal and thought negotiations for such a deal should wrap up by November.
“We remain very much committed to getting a good deal and believing that that is not just the right outcome but the most probable outcome,” Lidington said, adding that Britain wanted a deal that satisfied all EU member states.
Britain is due to leave the EU at the end of March next year. Negotiations on a deal for future relations have been very tough and some have even warned that there is a high chance for the UK to crash out of the EU without a deal.
The government of Prime Minister Theresa May has been trying hard to sell its Brexit strategy both to the EU and to domestic critics. The EU has been critical of May’s plan to maintain some trade links with the bloc after withdrawal takes place. The critics at home have also slammed May for giving up too much during the talks.
Meanwhile, a former governor of the Bank of England has warned that Britain will remain as closely as possible to the European Union after it officially leaves the bloc in March, predicting that the government of Prime Minister Theresa May would fail to reach an exit deal with the EU.
Mervyn King said in an interview on Wednesday that Britain was probably heading towards a ‘Brexit in name only’, a scenario he described as the worst of all worlds.
“We haven’t had a credible bargaining position,” said King, BoE governor from 2003 to 2013.
“The EU has been united, has been clear, has been patient and it’s the UK that’s been divided without any clear strategy at all for how to get to where we want to go,” he added.
King said BRINO, or the Brexit in name only scenario, was inevitable given the current state of talks between the UK and the EU seems most unwilling to compromise on its positions.
“Both camps feel that they haven’t got what they wanted,” said King, a main Brexit supporter.
May has come under pressure over the past months for lack of progress in her government’s efforts to reach a Brexit deal.
Many expect the UK would end up crashing out of the EU without a deal or with a deal that could leave the country closely linked to the EU after leaving.
The Prime Minister has insisted that she is seeking a solution that could have the least effects on the economy.
Prime Minister Theresa May declared her support to an assessment that a no-deal Brexit “wouldn’t be the end of the world,” ignoring her finance minister’s warning of significant consequences from such an outcome.
Speaking to reporters during her trip to Africa, May claimed that crashing out of the European Union without a deal “wouldn’t be a walk in the park” but went on to argue that the UK could make an economic success of the unprecedented situation if it proved impossible to negotiate a satisfactory divorce.
Her comments were designed to distance herself from the warnings issued by her finance minister Phillip Hammond after he suggested last week that failure to reach an agreement with the EU would have substantial economic consequences.
Hammond has warned against a no deal Brexit, saying that Britain’s GDP could fall and borrowing would increase by £80 billion a year by 2033-34 if Britain fell out on the terms of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Hammond, who is Chancellor of the Exchequer, said such a move would have “large fiscal consequences”.
When asked whether she thought her chancellor was right in his assessment of the economic impact of a no-deal Brexit, May stated that the figures he quoted were out of date.
Image : British Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster David Lidington