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Bernardine Adkins appeared on BBC World News today to discuss the role of the UK in showing flexibility where trading with the EU is concerned.
Aaron Heslehurst: Okay let's talk about the British pound. It actually has extended its recent runs all on hopes that a Brexit deal between the UK and the EU can still be reached, and it all comes after the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, said a withdraw agreement was still possible if the Irish border backstop, which the British government wants to scrap, can be replaced with alternatives.
Sterling has risen above one dollar twenty five from below one dollar twenty earlier this month, as investors say the risks of a no deal receding. So is the optimism justified? Let's find out. Bernardine Adkins is partner and head of EU and Trade Competition at Gowling joins us.
Good to see you Bernardine. So, investors feeling a little bit more confident and this, despite the fact that, didn't EU turn around to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and say "you've got eleven days, that's it, until the end of the month to come up with something."
Bernardine Adkins: Yes, that's right. I am afraid the optimism is misplaced, it's wishful thinking.
Bernardine: I think what is happening is we are all mistaking the courtesy and the respect that EU and various members of the EU are extending to the British and the democratic processes unrolling here in Britain they're mistaking that for the deal is possible. Because what we need to appreciate is the construct of the EU, the single market, the customers union is a construct of law that's been carefully crafted of many decades. It's held solid over many decades, every new member has to sign up to it. That has to hold it's existential to the EU. So there's no compromise going to be coming from the EU on that front.
Aaron: But the EU is saying a deal is still possible.
Aaron: Which means a revised deal.
Bernardine: A revised deal is possible for that reason, the UK has to revise it's red lines. So the creativity and the flexibility needs to come from the EU. And there's a constant failure on the part of the UK to appreciate that.
Bernardine: So that's where the flexibility had to come in. It's not going to come from the EU, it may come around certain secondary issues, around deadlines, transitional periods. Yes, that's all secondary but as regards to the fundamental business of constructing out of twenty eight sovereign nations, a single trading zone, the largest trading zone we have on the globe. That is not up for bargaining.
Aaron: You don't think that's up for a vote?
Bernardine: Absolutely not.
Aaron: And you don't think the EU may want to, strike a deal perhaps a slightly alternative deal because they see the UK as a very important market?
Bernardine: Yeah there are all, absolutely all sorts of alternatives but so far there's been no flexibility coming from the UK government. So that's where the flexibility has to come, in order to affect a deal.
Aaron: They say they're talking right? But we haven't seen right, we haven't seen what the British government has put forward.
Bernardine: That's right, they're non-papers and they've been put forward to the officials "Please don't circulate them further." and that is a lesson that the UK, I'm afraid moving forward, is going to have to learn. It needs to be much more transparent in terms of what it's proposing. 'Cause as a country we've yet to have this conversation with ourselves. We don't know what we want to be moving forward.
Bernardine: So the EU keeps asking but we've not even asked that of ourselves. So, this isn't the beginning of the end, this isn't the end of the beginning. This is still - we are still at the beginning of the beginning I'm afraid.
Aaron: You mean I can talk about this going forward? Constantly?
Bernardine: We have- I wouldn't be surprised- certainly years if not decades.
Aaron: Yeah, in ten seconds I know it's a hard ask. Uh, the Irish backstop, do you think they'll find an alternative? 'Cause that's the stickler.
Bernardine: No, no. This current government is very, very late to the party. This has been done to death, it's the impossible boarder. 310 miles, 400 crossing points.
Aaron: Okay. Bernardine , short and sweet. We could have half an hour on this couldn't we? And some.
Bernardine: And some, and some.
Aaron: Listen, you have a lovely weekend. And the same to you. Thanks so much for coming on in.