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A study commissioned by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has said it is too late for Boris Johnson to strike a full agreement before December 2020 while Europe is staring down barrel of a deep recession. 

In a story written by deputy political editor Rob Merrick of The Independent on July 16, 2020, he said Johnson must recognize that “the responsible thing” to do – with all of Europe facing a deep recession – is to agree a standstill “implementation period” for up to one year. This would not require Johnson to go back on his rejection of an extension to the transition period, because it would genuinely implement a permanent trade deal, agreed “in-principle.” 

Anton Spisak, the report’s author, argued there is “a landing zone for a sensible compromise” between the two sides, but warned: “It is very narrow. It is only possible if both sides show willingness to move away from principled stances and be realistic about what can be achieved by the end of this year. The alternative is a disastrous no deal.” The report comes as the UK and EU launch another round of talks, but with little apparent hope of the breakthrough needed this month, if a deal is to be reached in time. 

The study, published by the Tony Blair Institute, concludes agreement is possible with compromise in each area, by: The UK agreeing to a system of sanctions if it were breach commitments to prevent it undercutting the EU – enforced by independent domestic regulators; on state aid, the UK maintaining an effective domestic anti-subsidy regime, based on a set of “common objectives” agreed with the EU; on environment and labour standards, both sides agreeing to uphold existing protections, with the UK committing to enforcement through independent bodies, and; on governance, an “overarching institutional framework” could bridge the divide between the EU’s push for a single agreement and the UK’s wish for multiple separate deals.

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