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EU must prepare in case Johnson chooses to force a no-deal Brexit

After rectifying his stubborn disdain for sanitary masks, now British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has just removed the mask with which he intended to reach a true future trade treaty agreement with the European Union (EU). This is not the case, because in an agreement all parties make concessions, and he has not opened even the slightest loophole for either on the two key issues that – as he knows perfectly well – prevent European negotiators from signing any agreement.

Namely, a friendly fishing regime in its waters, and not marked by the confrontation between fleets and fishermen. And the equality or equivalence of public regulations in the fiscal, labor and environmental spheres to consolidate the equality of operating conditions of companies on both sides of La Mancha. His refusal foreshadows a threatening unfair competition according to the Singapore model, on the other hand long tried in the unsupportive tax havens of the Channel Islands, where white collar crime prevails.

To these data resulting from the last negotiating rounds and from the scores prior to the eighth of them, which should begin today, Johnson has just added two torpedoes to the floating of any understanding.

One is the urgent preparation of a new national law regulating the British internal market after its self-exclusion from the European market, which would dilute the binding force of what was already agreed with the 27 in the Withdrawal Agreement on the trade regime of Northern Ireland (it would maintain a border with the rest of the kingdom) and on the strict control of state aid. European negotiator Michel Barnier has soberly ruled that “everything signed must be respected.”

The other threat comes with the removal of the mask of dialogue. To the billion-dollar advertising campaign already underway, aimed at reconciling citizens with a resounding exit without a future agreement, she now adds that this “will be a good result for the United Kingdom, as I have said from the beginning.”

Everyone knows, and more than anyone English liberalism, that it will not be good. Because it implies high tariffs, at least temporary shortages, rising prices, and growing obstacles to access the market of its largest trading partner, continental Europe. That is why it is now trying to apply another mask, that of a commercial relationship only structured on the fragile ties of the WTO rules – minimalist in relation to the ties established for more than four decades with Europeans – disguising the “no agreement” with an “Australian agreement”, as if the tone of the voices reversed the meaning of the words.

These threats must be taken seriously. While defending the goodness of a pact like the one that the EU advocates —zero quotas, zero tariffs, equivalent regulations—, it must above all prepare itself now, also mentally, for a scenario of small and minimal sectoral agreements of circumstances. And so as not to take for granted benefits already considered, such as British access to European programs, the scope of peace support in Northern Ireland or the ways of sharing data, technologies or organisms: if London turns everything around, everything must be reconsidered. The flexibility of European soft power limits itself to dignity and respect.

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