04:12 GMT17 January 2021
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    The Battle of Brexit continues as we enter what is being described as the "last real major week to agree a deal". Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has said an agreement was possible if the EU were to show “pragmatism".

    This comes as reports surface that the European Union’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier is set to raise the white flag and cave in to Britain’s demands and agree to a trade deal.

    As the clock continues to tick down on the longest-running political soap opera in modern times, journalist David Lindsay has tried to find out if the UK will walk away from the negotiating table if no deal is struck this week and how likely it is that Brussels will submit to Britain.

    Sputnik: Is this really the final week for a decision to be made on trade talks with the EU? And does a decision have to be made this week one way or the other?

    David Lindsay: I think the answer is now yes. There comes a point in any negotiation process where it simply has to be completed. And this does now seem to be the case.

    Sputnik: It's being suggested that Michel Barnier could cave in to pressure being applied by the European Commission to agree a deal. How likely is it that the EU will submit to Britain's demands?

    David Lindsay: I think it's really not very likely at all. The EU institutions, after all, are answerable to the governments of the member states. And that includes particularly in this case, the government of the Irish Republic, and I wouldn't give more than a 50% chance that they'll cave in.

    Sputnik: If no progress is made this week. Will Britain walk away from the negotiating table?

    David Lindsay: I think this government might, but it will then have to answer as all governments do, to the House of Commons. And that would be a whole other story. I think Boris Johnson might walk away, yes.

    Sputnik: Come Friday, what position does the UK want to be in?

    David Lindsay: Oh, Britain wants to be in a position where there is a deal that is acceptable to the British government - which is answerable to the House of Commons - and, therefore, acceptable to the House of Commons. That is the position that the UK wants to be by the end of this week; whether it will be is a whole other question.

    Conservative Party branding encouraging them to Get Brexit Done and Invest in our Schools is seen at the Manchester Central convention complex in Manchester, north-west England on September 29, 2019, on the first day of the annual Conservative Party conference. - Embattled British Prime Minister Boris Johnson gathered his Conservative party Sunday for what could be its final conference before an election, promising to get Brexit done.
    © AFP 2020 / PAUL ELLIS
    Conservative Party branding encouraging them to "Get Brexit Done" and "Invest in our Schools" is seen at the Manchester Central convention complex in Manchester, north-west England on September 29, 2019, on the first day of the annual Conservative Party conference. - Embattled British Prime Minister Boris Johnson gathered his Conservative party Sunday for what could be its final conference before an election, promising to "get Brexit done".

    Sputnik: Would a no-deal Brexit be good for Britain?

    David Lindsay: It wouldn't be disastrous, it wouldn't be bad, it wouldn't be the end of the world. It would be better than a bad deal.

    Sputnik: Do you see it being more likely that Britain will go for a no-deal rather than Boris Johnson, perhaps caving in and agreeing to a bad deal?

    David Lindsay: I think that's right on the edge now. I think this week is absolutely crucial to that. And we are right on the deciding line on that one.

    Sputnik: What will be the major issues that stop a deal from being agreed this week?

    David Lindsay: The state-aid rules and the fisheries and also the future supervision of a deal of the exact nature of the power of the European Court of Justice, to continue to exercise jurisdiction in Britain as the enforcement agency so to speak, of the terms of the deal. But materially rather than formally, it is the continued British submission to the EU state-aid rules, which would be a terrible betrayal of the red wall areas. And any continued British participation in some form of a common fisheries policy, which would be catastrophic for the Conservative Party in several of those rebel seats, such as Grimsby, but even more in most of the seats that it has managed to retain in Scotland. And the Liberal Democrats are also in an invidious position - or a difficult position there at any rate - in that in most of the seats that they have in Scotland, fisheries are also a very big issue. So they need to be seen to make a decision when this deal comes to the House of Commons. It won't be enough for them to say we're just against Brexit per se we're going to abstain or something like that. It needs to be better than that.

    Sputnik: Do the British public deserve a deal of some sort to be made this week?

    David Lindsay: It would be preferable yes. But leaving maybe without it, most countries in the world don't have a trade deal with the EU. Most countries that trade with the EU don't have a trade deal with the EU. Leaving without one would not be the end of the world.

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

    Tags:
    Boris Johnson, Brexit, UK
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