After nine months of pandemic punishment, could talk of conflict between former EU allies be less helpful? Yet, days before the deadline for a deal on the terms of the EU/UK divorce, Boris Johnson threatened to deploy warships against French fishing boats in the English channel.
The gunboat diplomacy is pantomime more than poker. In fact, real obstacles to a free trade deal, including a system to prevent unfair competition if the UK diverges from minimum standards on such things as workers rights or environmental rules, are close to resolution. Ursula von der Leyen said today that ‘there is now a path to agreement’ and hinted that the process could go into extra time.
Johnson will ultimately do what he thinks serves his own career and indications are he will compromise – as long as he can sell it as a UK victory. (The Guardian 18 Dec 2020)