Parliament closes for recess but MPs on standby for vote on 'close' trade deal

Thu 17 Dec 2020
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
Trade News

uk parliament

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen told MEPs yesterday (16 December) that a trade deal with the UK is “so close and yet so far”, repeating that negotiators are on a “narrow path” to concluding the protracted negotiations. 

Von der Leyen said the “next few days are going to be decisive” with just two weeks left before the UK stops to trade under EU rules, according to the BBC

Landing zone

According to a Twitter feed from RTE Europe editor Tony Connelly there is “a landing zone in sight” on level playing field rules and governance, but fishing remains very divisive.

The Telegraph also reports that divisions over fisheries could yet sink the deal. British negotiators have asked Brussels to move their position on the matter having made concessions on the level playing field debate this week.

The UK has proposed a three-year transition period before a significant increase in the British share of the catch from its waters. The EU wants as long as ten years. 

Political theatre

Rising hopes for a deal had led to a bounce in value for the pound yesterday which reached a two-year high against the dollar. 

However, this optimism was tempered when Prime Minister Boris Johnson allowed UK MPs to depart Westminster for Christmas recess despite the requirement for the MPs to vote on a possible deal before the end of the year.

Some commentators have described the move as further ‘political theatre’, according to the Guardian.  

MPs on standby

A Downing Street spokesperson said yesterday that only three bills remained on the agenda for MPs this year including legislation to pave the way for end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December. These bills should pass through all their parliamentary stages by this evening.

The spokesperson did admit, however, that MPs could be recalled to vote on a potential trade deal.

“In the absence of further substantive business, we will – subject to usual approval by the House – go into recess tomorrow [Thursday], but with the knowledge that we will recall MPs and peers to legislate for a deal if one is secured,” they said.