- Senior UK government sources are very pessimistic about a Brexit deal being secured this week.
- This means a November Brexit summit now looks very unlikely.
- No-deal contingency plans will reportedly have to begin being put in place from Thursday.
- The prospects of a disastrous Brexit scenario looks more likely than ever.
LONDON – “I wouldn’t go getting your hopes up.” That was the verdict of one senior UK government official when asked whether a Brexit deal is set to be agreed this week.
“It’s not impossible there will be a breakthrough,” the source added unconvincingly. “But there isn’t one at the moment.”
After a long weekend of negotiations, which extended well into the early hours of Monday morning, both sides seem little closer to reaching an agreement. Cabinet, set to meet on Tuesday will not have an agreement to ratify, just as they didn’t have one last week, or the week before that.
And this means that unless something dramatic changes in the next two days then Britain is hurtling rapidly towards the Brexit danger-zone.
That means three things:
- The promised November EU summit to finalise a Brexit withdrawal deal will almost certainly now not happen and the deal will get pushed back until December.
- This is just three months away from Brexit, which means a no-deal scenario – for a long time ruled out as a near impossibility in Westminster – will rapidly become the baseline scenario.
- It also means emergency plans to route shipping through alternative ports as Dover grinds to a halt, will have to commence (reportedly from Thursday) meaning everything from the manufacturing sector to aviation, to finance becoming increasingly gripped by Brexit panic.
Even if a deal can be broken in the coming week, the difficulties of getting that deal through parliament, after the resignation of yet another Conservative minister on Friday, look greater than ever.
Put simply, the route for May to get a deal that can pass through her cabinet and parliament looks narrower than ever before and that means the smart money should increasingly be placed on a no-deal Brexit.
There is an assumption in politics that everything will ultimately be alright in the end. The public, particularly in a peaceful and prosperous country such as the United Kingdom, assumes that politicians will knuckle down and do what has to be done to prevent economic or political catastrophe.
But as plenty of other nations around the world have discovered over the years, sometimes bad things happen to good countries. Sometimes the clock runs out. Sometimes solutions cannot be found.
There is still time for May to solve the Brexit conundrum. As one senior government source has told BI: “If things do fall into place, then they will fall quite quickly,”
However, the time for a Brexit deal to “fall into place” is rapidly running out, and right now the prospects for an orderly Brexit look worse than ever before.