With years of talks over Brexit trade deals, and only till the end of this year left, we seem no closer to getting one done. Michel Barnier Head of Task Force for Relations with the United Kingdom was ready to offer a zero-tariff zero-quota free trade-deal, but with conditions.

Barnier talked of a level playing field that entails EU rules to govern from environmental, workplace, and labor standards to state aid. He also wants the European court of justice (ECJ) to settle disputes. This kind of Britain is the same as in the EU only without political influence. Johnston was unhappy with this as he wants a trade deal similar to Canada, who doesn’t have any of these Level Playing Field conditions.

Fishing is another contentious point; the EU wishes to have access to Britain’s fishing Waters. Johnson is not happy. He will also not obey any ECJ involvement in British affairs. Johnson declared he would happily go to a No Deal instead.

Mr. Johnson is using the leverage of a No Deal to get what he wants. He refused to extend the transitional period beyond the end of the year. The problem that free trade deals traditionally have is that it takes many years to agree. They only has a few months to approve.

On the bright side, both sides want an agreement; the Hardline talk may soften as the deadline draws near. Johnson has already weakened on fishing; he is willing to agree to EU quoters. On the flip side, UK striking deals with America or Asia sends shivers down the EU’s spine.

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