Brexit has been out of the headlines recently due to the shambles of the Sergei Skripal poisoning and the anti-Semitism claims at the Labour Party. perhaps highlighting that it isn’t as big of political issue as made out by the media and that the public actually only care about being treated fairly. But what has happened recently in regards to Brexit?

The speed at which the UK will be able to get trade deals in place by the end of the transitional period, will be vital but there are significant doubts that any deals will be able to be finalised within this time.

Government progress?

There has been very little progress and with the deadline less than a year away, there is of course scepticism over whether it could actually work or if it will go ahead.

Earlier this year, Prospect held an event to examine the key aspects of Brexit and one of the guests was Gina Miller. She has spent a lot of time going to and from Brussels to find out the state of play within the negotiations. However, she pointed out three things that came up often.

“One, no one has seen any detail or substance from our government or our negotiating team. Secondly, the timeline, if it gets to the June summit and there is still no detail coming from our side, then they will press on… and the feeling is that it will be quite difficult to reverse anything. This idea that we have until next March is not practical. The third thing is that no one understands how supply will work and how borders will work.” - Gina Miller (Prospect magazine)

This does highlight what has been largely reported, that despite the progress that has been made, the government aren’t really sure what they want or how any of it is going to work.

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In contrast, pro-remain broadsheet, the Financial Times, reported a list of positives over Brexit, Firstly, they highlighted the deal that has been penned on transition and citizens' rights, but also praise the City’s success in bringing the government on board with its preferred negotiating position of proposing mutual recognition in financial services regulation. Secondly, the column noted a growing expectation in the City that the unity of the EU27 will not hold, and that member states will start to exert pressure in favour of pragmatism and market access. They did also state a third, that Brexit won’t happen but that is unlikely at this point.

Last week saw 6-weeks of negotiations over Ireland begin, with the latest ‘solution’ put forward by the UK being dismissed as “magical thinking” by the EU. The Guardian reported that it wasn’t much different from the proposals put forward last August and were based on technological solutions. It is said that the British team, led by Olly Robbins, have acknowledged that so-called “non-tariff barriers”, and not customs checks, are the main stumbling block on the trade side of the equation.

Gibraltar, passport and far-right Brexit think tank

José Manuel García-Margallo, Spain’s former foreign minister who took a hard-line stance after the vote to leave the EU was made, has gone, replaced by the more emollient career diplomat Alfonso Dastis, who has ruled out closing the border. On Wednesday, Dastis said Spain hoped to sign off on a bilateral agreement with Britain over Gibraltar before October so as not to hinder a Brexit transition deal. “We do not want to convert the conversation between the European Union and Britain into a hostage-type situation”.

The whole passport furore is ridiculous but the government has delayed its final decision on who makes the post-Brexit blue UK passports to allow the British firm De La Rue more time to challenge plans to award the contract to a Franco-Dutch rival. The Home Office said the so-called standstill period between the choice of a preferred contractor and the official announcement had been extended.

Concerns have been raised over a Libertarian think tanks access to trade ministers. Concerns that the Legatum Institute, the libertarian think-tank that advocates a hard Brexit, is playing a behind-the-scenes role in shaping Britain’s future trade policy have been heightened after claims that it has enjoyed greater private access to trade ministers and civil servants than any other body. Newly released figures show that, in the last quarter of 2017, members of the institute had five one-on-one meetings with the Department for International Trade.