The climax is approaching, but in Britain little attention is paid to Brexit

Deadlines and Brexit, its never been a happy marriage. Again a week passed without a breakthrough.

There were some positive sounds from Brussels this week. That a 95 percent deal is closed and both camps are still progressing. But the last 5 percent have been the hardest for a long time. โ€œWe are still quite a few meters away from the finish lineโ€, said committee chairman Ursula von der Leyen last Friday.

The files that have been talking about for months remain stuck: how much will fishermen from EU countries have access to British waters? And to what extent are the British willing to follow EU rules in exchange for access to the European internal market? Both dossiers are so sensitive that there is still no willingness, both in Brussels and London, to accommodate the others.

In injury time

Last week the negotiations were already in the injury time to complete everything before 1 January. The agreement still needs to be translated into all 23 EU languages, in close consultation with lawyers and lawyers to ensure that the deal is legally the same in each Member State. And since the agreement will contain at least 600 (and probably more) pages, that is another huge job.

The European Parliament must also vote on it, which is now scheduled for the week of 14 December. And that, too, seems to be getting harder by the day, now that a breakthrough is longer and longer in coming. An opening session of the European Parliament between Christmas and New Year is already being considered. Or even to possibilities to lift ratification over 1 January: all very complicated.

Little attention to

Remarkably, there is little attention in Britain to Brexit, just now that this crucial final phase has arrived. The final deal shows how the future will look outside the EU, something that has been fought over over the past 4.5 years. And as the climax approaches, corona dominates the front pages.

That could, on the one hand, be an advantage for Boris Johnson. The less salt on each Brexit snail, the better. Especially now that the moment of truth is on the doorstep. Johnson has barely interfered with Brexit in the public in recent weeks. He came up with a new 10-point climate plan, with a new defence budget, and tomorrow he announces a new coronaroute map. But Brexit vistas? Johnson hasnt dared to do that in months.

But on the other hand, he cant keep running away from a decision. Even insiders on Downing Street say that Johnson hasnt decided for himself whether he wants a deal or not. After all, to any choice there are gigantic drawbacks.

If he chooses an agreement, he will have to compromise with the EU in any case. And any compromise will be interpreted by the fanatical Brexit wing in his Conservative Party as a knee-fall. Theyll see it as treason and tell Johnson that the accord is โ€œnot a real Brexit.โ€ Although Johnson has a majority of 80 seats, this group is large enough to make it seriously difficult for him. Especially because a large part of this group is very critical of its coronation policy; the relationship with its group has already been quite cooled.

No deal serious option

Going for a no-deal-brexit still remains a serious possibility. Especially because Johnson will be relieved of any Brussels interference. And economically, the blow of that scenario is not even more severe than if there is a deal. Because the British are only pursuing a relatively thin agreement under Johnson, there is still much to change on 1 January. The British Government has calculated that a no-deal-Brexit will reduce the economy by 8% in the next decade, while this agreement represents 5% less growth. In the long term, a small difference.

But there are still great geopolitical disadvantages to this. A no-deal-Brexit will seriously worsen the relationship with the EU. And in addition, it will also complicate Johnsons relationship with upcoming President Biden, an outspoken opponent of Brexit. Biden fears the consequences for Northern Ireland in such a scenario, something which is very close to him because of his Irish roots.

So, without a deal, Johnson will isolate further on the international stage. It is precisely at a time when he has been able to organise the G7 and the climate summit in 2021. Moments when he wants to show that the British still play a significant role after Brexit.

Its a devilish dilemma. However, Johnson will have to choose from one of these two options. And quickly.