European diplomats have rushed to deny that threatened sanctions against Britain have been taken off the table in anonymous comments relayed to The Guardian Newspaper, despite reports from the BBC February 15 that such plans had been abandoned. The so-called "Punishment Clauses" had reportedly been removed at the insistence of other EU member states.
Sounds like the EU27 have decided that the "'punishment clause" aka footnote No 4 in the draft #Brexit transition text published last week should be replaced with a less tough-sounding paragraph in the Withdawal Agreement that will refer to standard EU infringement process— Adam Fleming (@adamfleming) February 14, 2018
The momentary lack of clarity has come as Britain and the EU prepare to undertake the most fraught stage of their divorce talks, the negotiation of a post-Brexit trading arrangement.
Oh, look. The EU has already started to compromise on its opening demands over the transition. Just as some of us predicted. https://t.co/b7NKLjF0uV— Paul Embery (@PaulEmbery) February 15, 2018
The previous day, UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson delivered an impassioned speech pleading for the country to unite behind Brexit, in particular behind the version envisioned by his fellow "Hard Brexiteers" in which Britain leaves the EU Single Market and the Customs Union, enabling it to pursue independent trade agreements around the world
On February 10 a leaked Brussels memo suggested that the European Union intended to sanction Britain during the transition period, taking such measures as limiting the its access to the Single Market and turning away Europe-bound flights originating from the UK.
The revelations led to a diplomatic spat between Brexit Secretary David Davis and the Chief European negotiator Michel Barnier and prompted a letter from Mr. Davis to leaders of the British business community, warning them that, as a result, a transitional deal with Europe was "not a given."