More than 100 days after the EU’s Brexit talks ended, we still don’t have any Brexit-related news in the newspapers.
The latest news on the Brexit process and the government’s plans for a new relationship with the UK are largely overshadowed by the Brexit-inspired protests that have swept the country.
Read moreIt’s an odd state of affairs, as there’s little that could possibly be considered newsworthy in the face of Brexit-induced mayhem, especially since we’re still waiting for the UK to officially leave the EU.
But there’s a point at which all of that becomes a little redundant, and that’s when we start to realise the political landscape of Britain has completely changed since the EU referendum.
As a result, it’s almost impossible to follow the political developments of this new, uncertain time.
For example, let’s start with the big story: Brexit.
For months now, the government has insisted it will remain within the European Economic Area (EEA), or the single market, even after the UK leaves the bloc, which means that there is no guarantee the UK will be able to remain part of it if the UK doesn’t make the most of the economic opportunities it has in place.
As the FT explains, “the UK has made no secret of the fact that it wants to negotiate a new deal with the EU, but the government insists it will not trigger Article 50 unless the EU agrees to take over the Brexit negotiations.
Theresa May has been pressing for such an arrangement, saying in a recent speech that the UK should leave the single EU market and customs union after it leaves the EU.”
But if the government wants to stay in the EEA, which is a very different kind of partnership than a single market and free trade agreement, it would need to have some sort of deal with Brussels.
So far, this has only been mentioned once in the media.
And that’s not all.
The prime minister has been repeatedly stressing that she wants the UK not only to continue to be part of the single European market and the customs union, but also to get rid of the “outdated” customs union that was introduced by Margaret Thatcher.
And the government hasn’t even really said what that would look like.
The government has argued that it will be in a position to negotiate an EU-wide agreement on Brexit, but that it won’t be able because of the UK’s position in the single trading bloc.
But if that’s true, it means that the government could also try to renegotiate its relationship with other countries in the European Union.
This is where the current political environment comes in.
As the FT points out, “while there are several EU member states that could offer the UK a deal that could keep it in the EU customs union and single market after it has left the EU but which is much less favourable to it, none of them are willing to do so.”
This is why, as the FT notes, “in recent weeks, some European governments have begun to discuss a plan to negotiate with the government of Italy, which has been one of the main supporters of a deal with Britain, to avoid the need for a divorce bill.”
So what exactly does this mean?
The government is arguing that it’s in a strong position to make a deal, given the government is likely to win a major vote of confidence from the House of Commons, which would be a major achievement in the Brexit referendum.
But it has also said that it’ll not negotiate for an agreement unless the European Parliament agrees to support it.
That means that if the British government were to actually negotiate for a deal on Brexit that would be more favourable to Britain, there would be little chance that it would win support from the European parliament.
And if it didn’t, then it would be extremely unlikely that the European Commission would agree to a deal.
So if the prime minister really wants to leave the European market, and she wants to do it quickly, she’s going to have to find a way to get the government to agree to such a deal before the end of the year.
And it’s going on the clock now.
This is not the only reason why there’s been a lot of noise surrounding Brexit.
As I write this, there are still two days to go until the next general election in the UK, which may well determine the country’s future relationship with Europe.
The FT explains that “the Tories are under pressure from the Leave campaign to try and win back a seat in the Commons, where they currently hold a minority, to force a debate on the future relationship between the EU and the UK.”
So while there are many reasons for the government not to have a clear Brexit strategy yet, it doesn’t necessarily mean that there won’t ever be a Brexit strategy.
And there’s no doubt that Brexit will be a big factor in determining how much the government will negotiate with other nations.
And while the government says it’s still in the early stages of talks with the European Council on Brexit-relevant topics