UK-EU post-Brexit relationship: Rivals or good neighbours? – BBC Newsnight

[Applause] britain should seek and europe should seek the closest possible relations as britain leaves the eu while britain is leaving the european union it will not it should not and in my view it won't turn its back on europe when britain voted to leave the eu the stated ambition was to keep the relationship as close as possible but with the transition from two prime ministers who focused on damage limitation now it's on mr johnson to one determined to exploit the possibilities of divergence the mood music has changed and in the weeks since the uk left the single market signs have appeared that both sides may define the relationship in increasingly competitive terms i'm looking for close alignment between uk and europe into the future and i just worry a bit about the the post brexit noise from eu member states towards britain and vice versa this isn't an ongoing sort of battle between the uk and some of the bigger beasts or europe they need to cool it everyone needs to cool a little bit but will they cool it or are the politics of rivalry going to prevail lord daruc was the uk representative in brussels and later ambassador to washington he believes downing street is at a crossroads with europe i do think we're at a moment but it will stretch for a year or two and it will be determined by what deals we can do with the eu over making brexit operate better for british business and better for northern ireland uh and over where we go in future on foreign policy corporation or defense corporation some of the other issues equivalents for the city of london that are currently rather contentious so over the next two or three years i think that will have it will be a defining period for the future of uh of uk eu relations of course downing street still wants to get on well with the eu but boris johnson's language signing the trading cooperation deal in december was subtly different to cameron and his closest possible relationship the treaty that i've just signed is not the end it is it is a new beginning indeed the government's desire to diverge from europe and find new global markets and investment means that some have concluded december's trade deal with the eu could mark the high point of relations rather than the starting point of something bigger there's some tension within the tory party between pragmatic euroskeptics that would be happy with symbolic divergence and ideological euroskeptics that want substantive divergence and we'll probably get some clues from rishi sunak on the third of march when he unveils his budget around how the government's thinking around the divergence agenda but the question is one of divergence how far how fast alignment is really off the table any proximity to europe is really off the table so was the coveted vaccine crisis a temporary hiccup or something more significant one brussels player told me up until then many people here saw brexit britain as a bit of a joke now they take it more seriously as a competitor under fire for being too slow to order and license vaccines the eu commission president has conceded that the eu has the advantages of being a big ship but the uk those of a speedboat there is no doubt that the way the eu has handled the whole vaccine issue it's been a huge mistake but let's be clear being small and nimble has worked for us on vaccines probably doesn't work so well when you come to negotiating for example trade deals with much bigger and more powerful partners so how do the two sides avoid their post-brexit relationship becoming one of rivalry and recrimination on the eu side they have faith in december's trade deal to stop too much british we do not have an automatic alignment when european union changes anything but we do have a clause that if if there is too much divergence that then of course the european union can take measures and it protects us from from too much divergence and it gives the uk a certain flexibility to to choose their own rules the next big discussion concerns financial services with the eu wanting the city to align closely on regulation while the bank of england governor andrew bailey has pushed back the eu has argued that it must better understand how the uk intends to amend or alter the rules going forwards this is a standard that the eu holds no other country to and would i suspect not agree to be held to itself so is this just tough negotiating talk or might the uk decide it's a big enough financial services beast not to become a rule taker from brussels i think there's close to zero chance that an equivalence decision will be granted the uk doesn't want it and the europeans don't want to grant it the uk thinks it would be a nice to have but not at the price of subordinating the city to rule taking from brussels i think there is a view that the sector will be much more effectively regulated by the treasury and the bank of england than the european commission the european view is a prerequisite for equivalence is trust cooperation and a stable relationship between the two sides which is decisively not the case between the uk and the european union at the moment on financial services it's the desire of some big players france and germany mainly that the uk shouldn't have the same level of access that it did as an eu member that might frustrate agreement but on the other area where there had been high hopes for cooperation defense and security the reluctance is more on this side of the channel on defense security what i'm hearing is that it's mostly us who don't seem to be interested you would like to do more with us on defense and foreign policy and security and we are worried about what impact that has on our freedom of movement on our sovereignty and we really want a very um a la carte approach to this to cooperate with the eu on policy towards russia on the moments when it chooses us but have complete freedom to diverge when it chooses us for now the political climate is not right for cooperation to flourish between downing street and the eu and that will mean more of an arms-length relationship than the prime minister who fathered brexit ever anticipated slightly better attended press conference than some of the ones i've done over the last six years but you're all very welcome thank you [Music] you

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