Britain will now almost certainly have to wait until Christmas for the start of trade talks with the EU. This wasn’t the original plan, with the initial timetable suggesting these discussions could start in October. So what’s going wrong? Some are blaming the EU – and it’s true that the leaders of France and Germany are ‘behaving mulishly’ and ‘irrationally’, says the Daily Telegraph. But maybe the blame also lies closer to home. Deputy PM Damian Green has said he would still back ‘Remain’ if the referendum took place today, Theresa May ‘refused to say whether she would now vote for Brexit’ and the Chancellor is saying he won’t commit funds to prepare for a Brexit ‘no deal’. Faced with these mixed messages ‘the apparently irrational strategy of Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron begins to make sense’, says the Telegraph. After all, ‘when your opponent appears in disarray, you do not let up the attack. Instead, you press for maximum advantage’. It’s vital that the government proves the EU wrong – and works out its approach – concludes the paper.
‘In the power vacuum of British government,’ says the Times, ‘Theresa May’s colleagues offer their views on Brexit with abandon’. Yet it’s not only Britain’s approach which is in something of a tangle, the paper suggests, pointing out that ‘cracks are appearing in the EU side, too’, with Michel Barnier apparently ‘blocked’ from moving talks forward to discussions on trade. But if talks continue to stall ‘the only alternative is to agree a transition in which little changes’, says the Times. The EU should remember that it is not only in Britain’s interests to do so; it too ‘has good reasons to talk about transition’, points out the paper. Delay will ‘stoke uncertainty for businesses’, and Britain has already been straightforward and upfront about promising ‘there will be no hole in the budget.’. The EU promised to conduct Brexit talks in ’good faith’ – it’s time for them to do just that and ‘accept the logic of transition.’
Philip Hammond’s refusal to budget for a Brexit no deal doesn’t make sense, says the Sun. The Chancellor told a Parliamentary select committee yesterday that there’s ‘no need yet to commit money’ – yet he also said if Britain leaves the EU with no agreement ‘it could ground all planes to and from the EU’. ‘That strikes us as a disaster we should plan for now,’ says the Sun. Theresa May was right then to correct her Chancellor during PMQs, telling him to ‘free up funds’. While it’s fair enough for Hammond not to spend any more than he needs to ‘he would be grossly negligent to leave it too late to prepare for the worst’.