17:56 GMT23 November 2020
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    As Brexit negotiations between London and Brussels resume this week, London is insisting that their 'red lines', regarding a free trade arrangement with the EU, remain unchanged. The statement from negotiators in Britain follows an announcement from Ireland’s government, who warned that a breakthrough in the talks must occur this week.

    Political commentator Keith Rowe shared his opinion on the news.

    Sputnik: Following a suggestion from Ireland’s government that a breakthrough in talks is needed this week, can we expect any change in negotiation approach from either London or Brussels?

    Keith Rowe: Well, we can expect plenty of project fear from the EU side. We've had that all along and, obviously, the latest comments from Dublin are just a continuation of that. We have a lot less to lose than Ireland does, Ireland is going to be most impacted of anybody if an agreement is not reached. So, it's in their interests, really, to acquiesce with us and to work with the UK to try and achieve a deal. From our point of view, as I've said before on this programme and I’m happy to reiterate, I don't think we have anything to be worried about in the UK if we don't achieve a deal and we start trading on WTO terms. I think this country stands to gain by not giving huge payments to the EU, by setting up continual trade agreements across the world; I see we've signed another one in the last day or so, on fisheries with Iceland; we've set up free trade agreements with a number of countries already, and that will just continue and we have nothing to fear. The EU really has only been asked to give the UK what it's given other countries, in terms of an agreement similar to Canada for instance, and it's the EU that are really being awkward on this matter.

    European Union's Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier wears a protective face mask as he arrives at 1VS conference centre ahead of Brexit negotiations in London, Britain October 24, 2020.
    European Union's Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier wears a protective face mask as he arrives at 1VS conference centre ahead of Brexit negotiations in London, Britain October 24, 2020.

    Sputnik: Despite reiterating that UK 'red lines' remain unchanged, is this really the case, or would Boris Johnson and UK negotiators be open to concessions on areas like fisheries, state aid rules, etc., if it meant an agreement could be reached?

    Keith Rowe: If Boris Johnson were to move on the fundamentals, it would be terrible for the Conservative government; they would be seen to be untrustworthy. All the people that vote or many of the people that voted to leave, would consider that the real reasons they voted to leave such as; creating proper independence for this country, freedom from EU laws and regulations, regaining our own territories, freedom across the borders, etc., these are the main reasons why many people voted to leave, and if Boris Johnson were to completely about-face on any of those, there would be huge difficulties. In terms of actual regulations and bending and trying to come to an agreement, I think, yes, negotiations always have a bit of back and forth. But the fundamental reason of us being an independent country from now on, independent of EU laws, cannot be broken. If it is, there will be huge ramifications for the government.

    Sputnik: If a deal isn't reached, what does this mean for Boris Johnson and his government; particularly after promises made this time last year that a Brexit deal was 'oven-ready'?

    Keith Rowe: I think a deal was ready. If the EU had been prepared to give us what they've given Canada, the deal would have been done and signed and finished by now, and all this would have been moved on from and we'd be talking about different issues. I think if Boris Johnson is seen just to cave, he would be not in the job for a huge length of time, he has to be seen to be sticking up for Britain's interests and for retaining and regaining our independence. If he gives in on the fundamentals it would be very tricky for Boris Johnson. If, on the other hand, we leave with the World Trade Organisation deal, as it were, in terms of having to trade on World Trade Organisation terms, I don't think it would be bad. I think the economy would get a boost and yes, there would be some other difficulties, because the EU would try and make some things more difficult. But, bearing in mind that we are the EU's biggest customer, I think a lot of that is bluster, and the German carmakers, for instance, are not going to let Angela Merkel ruin their companies. So, I think Boris has to stick to his guns, and if he does that he will be in the best position. And yes, try and get a deal on Canada terms if he can, and if not, let's trade on WTO terms, and see where it goes from there. We can always make a deal afterwards.

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

    Northern Ireland, EU, Boris Johnson, trade, Brexit, United Kingdom
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