The leader of the Brexit Party Nigel Farage has responded to early murmurs about a UK-EU trade deal by declaring that “the war is over” and opining that the deal is “not perfect, but goodness me it’s still progress.”
The comments, made to TalkRADIO this morning, will be encouraging to the Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his government.
Farage has been a long-time critic of the government’s Brexit policy, making outspoken public attacks on Mr Johnson’s Withdrawal Agreement last year, so his tentative support for the agreement could signal a positive mood across the wider Eurosceptic community.
But the comments were not entirely positive, with warnings that “on some of the detail, such as we’ll be back in charge of our fisheries, history may judge some of those aspects a little more harshly. “
The issue of fisheries has been a key sticking point in recent days, with pressure from French President Emmanuel Macron supposedly pushing the European Union to drive a harder bargain.
In a leaked internal government analysis trumpeting key UK wins in negotiations, fisheries policy is described as an area of “mutual compromise” with a system of annual negotiated quotas being pushed back for five and a half years.
The news will disappoint the most ardent Brexiteers, who in recent weeks have called on the Prime Minister to walk away from talks and exit the transition period on World Trade Organisation terms.
Farage himself struck a harsher tone last night, when he suggested that “the British team have dropped the ball before the line” and called the compromise on fisheries a “sell-out.”
But his more conciliatory tone this morning may point to a new mood among Eurosceptic politicians. The so-called legal “Star Chamber” of the hardline Tory European Research Group is set to reconvene according to reports in the Telegraph, and their judgement will do much to either establish or destabilise any such consensus.