21:54 GMT29 January 2020
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    British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal is set to be scrutinised by MPs once again in the House of Commons. But will he follow through on his promise to not extend the UK’s deadline for leaving the EU outright past the end of the year?

    Sputnik spoke with Alistair Jones; Associate Professor and University Teaching Fellow in the Department of Politics, at De Montfort University Leicester, to get his views on the matter.

    Sputnik: Will the UK be able to negotiate a free trade agreement with the EU over the coming year?

    Alistair Jones: It depends what’s going to be involved in the trade deal. If we look at what the EU is wanting; they want to cover areas such as finance, fisheries, free trade and public procurement, they’ve got a whole list of areas that they think are essential for a complete deal.

    What Boris Johnson is probably after is something that’s much more big picture, broad and brash; more along the lines of worrying about the details as we approach them. The EU is not very keen on doing such things, they want to be tied down.

    Doing things inside a twelve-month period is going to be phenomenally difficult. On top of this, if the UK passes legislation to say that there is no extension permissible; the deadline for the extension is going to be the end of June most likely, so in five or six months’ time.

    It could be the case that if we’re not getting close yet by then; and they’ve legislated to say that there’s no extension, we keep going, so if that’s the case then a deal is not really going to be achieved.

    Sputnik: Could Boris Johnson go back on his pledge not to extend the Brexit transition period past December 2020?

    Alistair Jones: I think Boris Johnson has invested too much political capital but having said that; it is crazy to try and predict what he may or may not do. He’s set deadline dates before and then had to change them, I think the issue would be how it is sold to the public if he has to change.

    If he’s saying that they are going to go for two years, which is what the Labour Party are wanting; he is going to lose a lot of credibility in that situation with the British public and British media in the short term, but in the longer term though, he may be able to turn around and say look at the consequences of me pushing for extra time and we’ve got this much better deal.

    The problem that we’ve got is that his so-called oven-ready deal, which he suggests is there and ready for the taking, is that we don’t actually know what the deal is and we don’t know what parliament are going to do.

    What we’ve got to bear in mind is, that this deal that’s going through parliament to leave the EU, is not going to get the scrutiny that the opposition parties would like to give it, he’s going to be able to ram it through in a shorter period of time than what was originally envisaged prior to the general election.

    It may be up to the House of Lords to raise the questions and the issues, but he will use the Parliament Act of 1949 to force that through the House of Lords as well, because it’s a manifesto commitment, that the UK will leave the EU at the end of December 2020, come what may.

    Sputnik: Is the UK adequately prepared for a no-deal scenario?

    Alistair Jones: We don’t know what the consequences are going to be of a no-deal Brexit. Even though we’ve talked about it for the past three years, the reality is that nobody is really aware as to what this is going to entail.

    Nightmare scenarios could be that the economy will crash, we’re going to have to have an emergency budget and that public spending is going to have to be slashed, but there are positive sides to it all, including that we might actually get better trade deals with the United States, with Russia, with China, with Japan and other non-EU countries and the fact that the EU still wants to trade with us and will do what they can to be able to do so, means that there is a positive light as well.

    At this stage, it is just huge conjecture, but it seems that we are not ready for it and I think that big business in particular and small businesses as well have been saying that they are not ready for it and that the costs involved are going to be huge.

    If we then look at the consequences with regard to immigration and the sectors of the economy that are hugely dependent upon unskilled immigrant Labour; they are going to suffer massively if we leave without a deal, because the walls are going to go up and those EU nationals that have been coming to the UK to work here, for example in agriculture, they might not be able to get in under a no-deal scenario.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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    EU, Brexit deal, Boris Johnson, Brexit, U.K
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