On Monday, the House of Commons of the British Parliament in the first reading voted by a majority vote in favor of the new law on the internal market - despite objections, including from eminent Tories. With this law, the government primarily intends to prevent customs barriers on the border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom вЂ” barriers that would have to be erected under the 2019 Brexit agreement negotiated with the European Union. Is it all heading towards a tough Brexit?
Allergy to Europe
In an article in the newspaper La Repubblica, former Italian Deputy Foreign Minister Marta Dassu calls the decision undermining confidence:
вЂњThe Tory hawks would love a hard Brexit. Because this environment is clearly allergic to any pressure from Europe, and the Tories are convinced that Britain can вЂ” and should вЂ” regain its status as a sovereign world power. This is the script that Boris Johnson loves to flirt with. The just-introduced British Internal Market Act provides powers to 'non-apply' the treaty's provisions for Northern Ireland. Thus, the British government raises the stakes during negotiations on a trade agreement with the European Union, but at the same time, it only complicates them вЂ” turning into nothing the agreement already concluded by the parties. And this begs the question: is it possible to trust London at all?вЂќ
And who are the judges?
The Daily Telegraph defends Johnson, noting that other countries have a lot to reproach:
вЂњChina spits on WTO rules and manipulates its currency. The same can be said for the EU, especially Germany and France. Russia and China violate state borders, as exemplified by Crimea and Hong Kong. Even the United States sweeps aside rules and regulations when it suits them, for example, Guantanamo and Washington's refusal to participate in financing the WTO and WHO. The EU has also openly ignored the terms of its withdrawal agreement with the UK last year, negotiated in bad faith, and showed no real willingness to reach a free trade agreement.вЂќ
Johnson's project under threat
As noted by the Financial Times, for all his belligerence, Johnson cannot afford to admit a situation in which the country will be left without an agreement with the EU:
вЂњUntil the Brexit option is finally determined, this issue can be raised anew вЂ” and at any time. That is why, for all his boastful rhetoric and lofty style, Johnson needs a free trade agreement with the EU. If by the end of the transitional period even the most minimal agreement is not reached вЂ” and this fear is shared by many вЂ” then Johnson's entire project may be in jeopardy. At the heart of everything Johnson builds is Brexit. While Brexit may not be viewed as an immediate success, of course, it should never be viewed as a disaster. ... An agreement without an agreement at the end of the transition period will signal that Brexit has not been completed. This will give the opposition an opportunity to attack вЂ” and will mean that the question of the final Brexit is still open.вЂќ
Coronavirus forces different risk assessments
The pandemic seems to be playing an important role in the fact that many in British society are favorable to such a change, of course, explains the columnist for the Corriere del Ticino newspaper Ferruccio de Bortoli:
вЂњUntil now, the tough Brexit option seemed like a classic 'black swan' вЂ” a bottomless abyss that suddenly opened up in front of governments and markets. But in view of the larger вЂ” and far more devastating 'black swan' that claimed the lives of many people, the UK's divorce from the EU has become an ordinary event that does not go beyond the boundaries of everyday life. ... It is possible that it was this change in the perception of risks that formed the basis for the British government's decision to adopt the law on the internal market, which is currently being discussed in the lower house of parliament, and thereby repeal the provisions of the agreement concluded with Brussels on January 24, 2020.вЂќ