15:51 GMT24 February 2020
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    In response to his EU divorce bill being passed in the House of Commons Boris Johnson has stated that the UK has officially crossed the Brexit finish line. The UK will now officially leave the bloc on the 31st of January but will enter a so-called transition period, where Westminster and Brussels will attempt to hash out a free trade deal.

    Johnson has repeatedly claimed that he and his team are willing to cut ties with the EU under WTO rules, should negotiations go awry.

    But is this really the case? And are the powers that be in Brussels actually in favour of allowing the UK to leave their institutions, whilst having free access to the single market?

    Political Commentator Keith Rowe gave his views on the matter.

    Sputnik: Is Boris Johnson right to say that the UK has officially crossed the Brexit finish line?

    Keith Rowe: Boris Johnson has certainly passed the first stage of what matters, and that is what we are, at last, officially leaving the EU, which is a huge milestone and something that is to be totally applauded, but of course, that is just now the start of the negotiation process.

    I think the EU is very good at playing hardball, and this country needs to learn very rapidly how to do exactly the same, we are in a very strong position, Boris Johnson needs to realise that he is negotiating from a position of strength,  and other countries from across the world are dying to do business with us.

    We are in a very good position, and we must be very careful and strong how we handle our negotiations, we deserve a better deal than the EU has given other countries such as Japan, whereas at the moment; the EU is trying to somehow impose on us conditions that would give us a worse trade deal than they have given other countries, so we need to be extremely tough and extremely careful.

    Sputnik: Is Boris Johnson really prepared to sever ties with Brussels under WTO rules?

    Keith Rowe: If Boris Johnson isn’t prepared to walk away; then he has learnt nothing over the last few years. If you are going to have a deal; any sort of a deal from any sort of negotiation, then the deal must suit both parties, it must be right for both parties.

    If it isn’t right for you; then you should say “ sorry, this deal isn’t right for me, and I can’t accept it”, and walk away, and then we’ll either keep negotiating under different guises, or in this instance we would go into WTO terms, which I don’t think would be harmful for the UK at all, it may give a tougher regime for the EU, but then they would soon come round to negotiate and give us a better deal along the lines that we really deserve, so I think that is the way forward.

    Sputnik: Should the UK’s Civil Service be reformed?

    Keith Rowe: It’s long overdue to have a complete reform of the Civil Service, for many different reasons; not just the fact that they’ve been trying to hamper the exit from the EU, although that’s a major part of it, and certainly what’s triggered it, but there have been many other instances where the Civil Service has not worked really as well as it should for the benefit of this country.

    You just have to look at the way that major procurement projects have been mishandled, look at the Ministry of Defence and the way that the wrong equipment has been bought, and things aren’t specified properly. The way that the Civil Service is run, with constant movement between departments, lack of expertise and far too many people, and not enough control, it needs a major overhaul.

    If it’s taken this whole Brexit scenario to trigger that; then that’s just another advantage of the UK leaving the EU.

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

    Tags:
    no-deal Brexit, Brexit, EU, Boris Johnson, U.K
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