the five days that allowed the United Kingdom and the EU to win a new agreement

At the end, European negotiations often look like this: roller coasters. The last straight line, this October 17, did not depart from the rule.

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Michel Barnier, the chief negotiator of the European Union for Brexit, Wednesday, October 16, at the European Parliament in Brussels. KENZO TRIBOUILLARD / AFP

At the end, European negotiations often look like this: roller coasters. Hope in the morning, pump at noon, renewed hope in the late afternoon, discouragement in the evening … The final straight Brexit has not departed from the rule. Until Thursday, October 17 at 11:30, a few hours before a crucial EU summit, the divorce agreement between the United Kingdom and the European Union was not tied. Then everything accelerated, and the agreement was unveiled.

The night before, the "Deal" already seemed at hand. The negotiators had agreed on the major topics of customs controls, the North Irish veto and the political declaration intended to outline the future relationship between the United Kingdom and its future ex-partners. There remained the question of VAT on which the two parties had not yet agreed.

Five days of discussions

On Thursday morning, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) said that "as is", the conditions were not right for an agreement to be viable. But without the North Irish Protestant Unionists, Boris Johnson has no chance of getting the text ratified in the House of Commons … "There will be a deal or there will be no deal," it was said, laconically, the Council Thursday late morning. A few minutes before the news of a deal finally falls.

It may seem long: it is actually extremely short. It only took five days of nonstop discussions between Brussels and London to give birth to a divorce treaty. The second. The first, Theresa May's, approved in the fall of 2018, died in the spring, after three humiliating rejections in the House of Commons. "It's a bit unfair", comments a close friend of the negotiations, on the Brussels side. "But if there is one who can sell an agreement in the House of Commons, it's Boris", continues this source.

Mme May had started negotiating with the Europeans in June 2017: "the May agreement" took eighteen months to complete. Boris Johnson, however, chose to engage seriously in discussions only in early October, after having moved between the end of July and the end of September, more campaigning in the United Kingdom. Kingdom, in view of the forthcoming general elections, which is the seat of the European institutions. When he arrived at Downing Street, European sources were slipping that there would be no question of giving him to him, which had been denied to Mme May, appreciated for his righteousness and seriousness.


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