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The UK risks stumbling into the next phase of negotiations with the EU without a plan, putting the country at an unnecessary disadvantage with the Brexit extension, according to a new report.

Published today, The Institute for Governments’ ‘Negotiating Brexit: Preparing for talks on the UK’s future relationship with the EU’ looks at what went right – and wrong – in the first phase of EU negotiations. It makes a series of recommendations about how the government should approach themuch tougher issues surrounding the UK’s long-term future relationship with the EU.

The extension of Article 50 provides an opportunity for the UK to prepare properly for the next phase of talks, which will inevitably happen whether or not the UK leaves with a withdrawal agreement.

The Institute for Government said:

“The full implications of the Prime Minister’s red lines, for businesses and for the Irish border, only emerged after she had set them out.

“The Prime Minister marginalised those she thought were giving inconvenient advice.”

The report says that the main problems in the first phase were at the political level. The negotiations were bedevilled by the absence of Cabinet agreement on the shape of the future economic relationship. Politicians, particularly on the Government backbenches, did not trust the UK’s official negotiators.

Split responsibilities between No.10 and DExEU, stemming from the original misguided decision to create a dedicated Brexit department, caused tensions and ultimately proved unsustainable. The Government engaged Parliament late, alienated the devolved governments and failed to make use of external expertise.

In terms of tactics, the UK’s divide and rule’ diplomatic strategy cut little ice with the leaders of other member states, who rallied behind the European Commission negotiators.
But not everything went wrong.

When negotiations succeeded (with Euratom for example), it was because the UK decided on its objectives early and engaged with specifics. Read more

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