Brexit talks between the UK and the European Union have protracted over the allotted two years after repeated clashes between the two parties on the terms of their divorce. But with Britain finally departing the bloc next week, George Osborne suggested the next phase of talks will be less tense because of Brussels no longer having the “maximum leverage”. Speaking to Bloomberg, the former Chancellor said: “The one thing I’d say is we have moved beyond the point where the EU had the maximum leverage.
“They could have withheld a withdrawal agreement from the UK. Now they are going to start thinking Britain is the second-largest economy, the key security partner, it’s got a big trade deficit with the EU.
“Once the heat of the departure starts to abate, sensible heads in Berlin, Paris and Brussels will say, ‘how do we create a new relationship with the UK?’”
Boris Johnson is now expected to reap the fruits of success after Parliament finally agreed on his proposed Withdrawal Agreement Bill. The Bill cleared both houses on Wednesday and is now set to receive Royal Assent over the coming days.
Mr Johnson is set to start trade negotiations with Brussels after a special summit of EU leaders during which they will agree on their position for the next phase of the Brexit process.
The UK and the EU will then have until December 2020 to reach an agreement on their future trading relationship.
Britain is entitled to request an extension to the transition period but must table a request by June 30 and the Prime Minister rejected any suggestion the UK may seek yet another postponement.
Despite Eurocrats expressing some scepticism at the possibility of striking a deal in 11 months, Chancellor Sajid Javid insisted there is “great faith” on both sides an agreement can be found.
Mr Javid conceded time will be “tight” to put a new trade arrangement into place after Brexit but that a deal “can be done.”
Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the Chancellor said: “There is a strong belief on both sides that it can be done.
“Both sides recognise that it’s a tight timetable, a lot needs to be done.
“It can be done, And it can be done for both goods where we want to see zero tariffs and zero quotas, and also services.”
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen previously suggested it would not be possible to have a new deal in place in so little time as she said London must agree to have a “level-playing field” with the EU to reduce the possibility of the UK emerging as a new competitor after Brexit.
And on Thursday, Vice President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans hinted Brussels may extend the deadline if a trade deal does not “look after the interests of the EU”.
Mr Timmermans said: “I think the EU will negotiate in good faith because the EU fully understands that it is in our interest to have a very good trade deal with the United Kingdom.
“But it is clear that we will have to defend our position.”
He added: “In our view, this is a very complicated matter that will take time.
“But I have also taken note of what Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said about this.
“Let’s see what happens. The only thing I want to say today is that we will be negotiating in good faith.”