Sputnik: Why do you think Macron is now offering an alternative to the deal put on the table by Brussels?
Iain Begg: What we had in December was an agreement on the first three elements, namely, the "divorce" deal, how to deal with each other's citizens and what to do about a hard border in Ireland.
If you want the details, the hard border in Ireland has not been solved and the negotiations that are coming up now cover two main areas, one is the likely transition, Britain leaving the EU, and second is what the future relationship between the UK and the EU would look like, particularly [with respect to] trade and other economic matters.
What I think Macron has said is that he is open to Britain having a deal similar to that of Canada, which means a fairly comprehensive trade arrangement but would stop short of giving Britain any deal it wants, [particularly in the] financial services sector.
He was saying to Britain: "If you want more – be my guest, but you have to recognize the consequences, which mean staying inside the European single market and continuing to accept payments into the EU budget [as well as] continuing to accept free movement of European citizens into the UK labor market. So it's a long way from the EU changing its tone.
Sputnik: Macron stated that Britain is likely to negotiate a unique deal with Brussels before it leaves the bloc, what is your particular take on that?
Iain Begg: There are many elements to this. The first one is that Macron is almost certainly correct that there will be something unique in the nature of the deal that Britain eventually [makes] with the EU.
It won't be an off-the-shelf version of the Canada deal which many have talked about, nor of the Norway arrangement, which others have talked about, and yet another is the very bespoke arrangement that Switzerland has with the EU.
It's all going to be negotiated line by line and will be distinctive from all of them. And that’s understandable because if there’s one thing that characterizes Britain – it has a very strong financial sector which other countries would like to get a bit of.
The views and opinions expressed by Iain Begg are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.