Secret Brexit Negotiations in the "Tunnel" to Begin


The British Pound is up again on news of pending Brexit negotiation talks between the UK and EU.

Tunnel Talks

Q: What's the tunnel?

A: A place where there are no cameras, cell phones, computers, or other communication. No one wants any leaks until a deal is reached.

Green Light

“They are giving the green light at the moment,” according to one diplomat.

Even Donald Tusk is on board.

From Eurointelligence

It has been our experience - and that of Angela Merkel as well - that all important deals in EU politics happen at the last minute when they happen. Final deadlines matter, not procedural deadlines like October 17 or 19. The EU and the UK have until the end of the month to get a deal. Of course, they will need an extension to pass it. But, once a deal is done, that's a technical detail.

Maastricht was not settled by the officials who wrote the treaty, but by the political leaders who in the end compromised on areas where they previously said they would not. It is possible that Johnson compromises on the customs union. And that Varadkar will compromise on the length of the backstop. Or vice versa. Or both.

It is possible that the fragile parliamentary majorities in the UK may break down again. But the Brexit fatigue in the country is playing into Johnson's hand. If elections were to precede final ratification, Johnson's message to Get Brexit Done would be a better campaigning platform than Labour's pledge to negotiate yet another deal and put it to a referendum. Once a deal is done, Labour might have to consider its strategic options again. There is a case for supporting the deal and moving on, rather than promising another year or more of Brexit uncertainty.

Could other EU leaders still reject this deal? If Varadkar is happy, it would be hard for them to frustrate an agreement. It is the price EU leaders will have to pay for hiding behind the Irish prime minister so far.

And finally, perhaps the most important statement from Varadkar was the following: "I am now absolutely convinced that both Ireland and the UK want there to be an agreement that’s in the interests of Ireland and the UK, and the EU as a whole."

Revival of Theresa May's Deal?

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Heading Towards the Tunnel

The Guardian Live Blog reports

EU member states give permission for 'tunnel' negotiations, says Barnier

The UK government had been keen to open “tunnel” negotiations with the commission on the detail of a deal, and this will be seen as a sign that progress is being made with the EU. These intensive talks are now set to be held in the days before the summit on 17 and 18 October.

Permanent Trap?

That's all we know other than Johnson had to give in on something.

I presume this will not be the same deal Theresa May negotiated, but it will likely have some of those aspects. Ireland probably gave up something as well.

The details are subject to negotiation.

If there is a way for the EU to keep the UK in a permanent trap, the UK may as well stay in.

Negotiations have finally begun!

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Comments (15)
No. 1-10

Hey, bright days are here ! Light at the end of the tunnel for Brexit, and I'll let you in on a secret, US/China trade conflict is over, doncha know--markets up all over!

Now, what else could provide light in a tunnel.....


Just be careful that the light at the end of the Chunnel isn't a train.



Deep Purple
Deep Purple

So much for the enthusiasm about the majority in parliament... Any concession from Johnson would alienate the DUP or the ERG. They were already on the razor's edge after the last proposal. A defeated deal would probably undermine the future of Boris as Tory leader. It is better for him not to try anything doubtful.

I think the talks will halt again, this iteration is part of the blame game.


Alright, so what was really going on there?

  • First, EU never planned to negotiate on merits of the new agreement. It was always working to ensure that UK would continue "feeding" EU and being of the main markets for goods.
  • Boris and his team knew about it, he also knew that he would have to force EU into a corner to start actually negotiating a deal.
  • For some reasons, Boris decided to reveal the deal earlier than originally planned. Not sure why, maybe too much noise from the media.
  • But by that time, EU/Remainers special legal team were not yet clear if Boris/His Replacement could be forced to extend or not. So, no negotiations took place just because EU were waiting confirmation that UK would be extending. EU obviously did not care about what was in the new deal proposal. That is why the last weekend EU took a holiday ;)
  • But on Wednesday things changed. Boris's legal team informed him that all options are exhausted now and he could not be replaced before Oct 31 so extention or not is fully in his hands.
  • On that, Boris called the Boss - Merkel and informed her that unless she takes the deal, he take UK out of EU on Oct 31.
  • Apparently, Merkel had not been briefed by EU/Remainers legal team on the latest development before the call, so she freaked out and told Boris that this deal would not be happening.
  • After that, 2 things happened. a) Merket reached out to her team which confirmed that, indeed, Boris was right, and EU cannot force the extention. b) Boris decided to add pressure on Merkel by going public and revealing their conversation about no deal.
  • As a concequence of the publicity, EU special interests ran their own checked and confirmed that extention could not be forced.
  • Merkel came under immense pressure to prevent no deal with any means possible.
  • She called Varadkar and told him to agree some sort of a deal with Boris.
  • So this meeting took place on Thursday resulting in "new agreement possible" headlines...
  • Now real negotiation has started. Boris won another round.

Brexit = 'Waiting for Godot'


A more optimistic possibility: the EU listened to Cummings threats in the Spectator piece and realised that although they could force an extension, probably doing that would ensure a Tory Govt with strong majority who would then drive a hard bargain or exit. More importantly, afterwards would be hard to, with Britain actively competing with all major EU players in a semi-hostile fashion. So what would the EU truly gain? Not much. Better to let the UK go but do so in a somewhat friendly fashion so as to maintain the surplus (to them) flow of goods which are especially important for export-driven German manufacturers (esp. cars), and no doubt thousands of long-standing contracts with wine and cheese producers in nearby France. In other words, they finally came to appreciated that UK's goodwill is worth more than a technical victory resulting in an unending nightmare.

The main thing is to get enough of a deal so that any remaining hooks can be later disentangled, but after the ability of the Remainer army's rearguard action forestalling any forward progress has been taken out of the equation.

Of course, we don't know what has been agreed. But Boris won't be able to pass something that is too much like May's deal - especially the political agreement aspect - that keeps UK in submissive thrall to EU jurisdiction and control. I find it hard to believe that he will bank on getting it through in some sort of exhaustion blackmail play, nor that Cummins would ever have helped him get to that. So I think they found a way to truly pressure the EU, and the EU has decided to play ball finally.

We'll soon know one way or the other...



this looks like the ace in that Boris has up his sleeve.

It is pretty clear to me that legislation that forces someone to do a deed, like jump off a bridge, isn't a proper law, just an abuse of power.

The Vienna convention makes it pretty clear that such laws are null and void.

The only two outs that Remainers have here is Supreme Court, which will judge improperly I am sure, though here their judgement would have to be incredibly egregious because the case in point matches the convention exactly. Secondly they could take over Parliament and use the remainer majority to revoke Brexit, basically declaring war on the people and making it ultra clear that the shenanigans over the withdrawal agreement were just a façade to prevent any Brexit at all.



"The issue with your interpretation is the fact that long extension would always be the best outcome to EU. "

Not necessarily true - With a big enough majority the UK would leave in an Iron Curtain fashion as proposed by Eurointelligence.



"this looks like the ace in that Boris has up his sleeve"

I believe so Well done

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