Getting into ‘the tunnel’: what does it imply for the Brexit talks? | Politics


Even by the dramatic requirements of Brexit, subsequent week is shaping as much as be a key one in deciding how, when and if the UK leaves the EU. It has additionally reintroduced some barely complicated jargon.

What’s ‘the tunnel’?

This can be a Brussels-coined time period for intensified Brexit negotiations meant to happen between small groups from the UK and EU, insulated so far as potential from the pressures of leaks and media scrutiny.

The talks contain solely senior negotiators, with no paperwork, media briefings, or anything that might be used to derail the method.

The tunnel-phase discussions, centring on proposals made by Boris Johnson and his Irish counterpart, Leo Varadkar, on Thursday, have been given the OK by ambassadors representing the EU member states, sources stated.

Have we been within the tunnel earlier than?

Sure. A yr in the past, after Theresa Could was humiliated when her preliminary Brexit proposals have been publicly rejected at a summit in Salzburg, the EU’s deputy chief negotiator, Sabine Weyand, instructed an alternate means ahead.

Determined to rebuild belief, Weyand proposed the thought of eradicating the negotiations from the general public eye, with a core group from either side establishing a base within the European council’s Berlaymont constructing to check out new concepts over lengthy hours of talks.

Weyand informed EU ambassadors: “What we would like to do is go right into a tunnel after which come again to temporary you about what occurred simply earlier than the following European council.”

Did that work?

Sure, within the sense that in late November the EU 27 and Could got here up with a 585-page withdrawal settlement to place earlier than the UK and European parliaments for ratification, in addition to a 26-page political declaration on the long run relationship.

Nevertheless, by this stage Could had misplaced a collection of ministers, who resigned over her plan, and by the point it was ultimately put to the Home of Commons in January, she was defeated by a convincing 230 votes. Two additional votes have been additionally misplaced.

So what occurs subsequent?

If the tunnel talks happen then the timetable shall be extraordinarily tight, to the purpose that many observers consider some type of delay past 31 October can be wanted even within the occasion of an settlement.

A European council summit, lengthy billed as key to a deal, takes place subsequent Thursday and Friday in Brussels. Earlier than then, Johnson will on Monday current his proposed legislative programme to parliament in a Queen’s speech, one dismissed as largely pointless given the chance of an imminent basic election.

An actual crunch level comes on Saturday 19 October, the date said within the backbench-instigated Benn act because the second by which Johnson should formally search an extension past 31 October, if he has not had a deal handed by parliament, or obtained MPs’ approval for no deal.

Parliament may have its first Saturday sitting for the reason that Falklands conflict, and with the prime minister having pledged to ship Brexit on 31 October come what might, we are able to count on vital drama.



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