After over four years of negotiation and uncertainty, Boris Johnson must get Brexit done by going for a deal with the EU, argues Tom Hewitt.

 With rumours Brexit negotiations are, at long last, nearing their end, Boris Johnson faces one of the biggest decisions of his premiership: deal or no deal?

Fortunately for him this should not be a difficult decision. If he wants to secure his legacy, protect the economy and finally end this interminable debate, all logic suggests he should go for a deal.

To start with, he needs a deal to keep his promise to the British public to 'get Brexit done'. Failing to secure an agreement would mean heavy disruption at the English ports, a likely major diplomatic crisis over Northern Ireland (assuming the Internal Market Bill is passed), and a return to the daily Brexit palaver in Parliament and the media – exactly what people voted to stop. Moreover, unless Johnson was determined to never return to the negotiating table, it's probable Brexit talks would end up forever continuing in the background, to the chagrin of the public.

For self-interested reasons, no agreement would also be a political risk for Johnson in another way. Many of the Tories new Red Wall seats are dominated by manufacturing plants, meaning these areas tend to trade far more with Europe than the national average. Because of these trade flows, EU tariffs such as 10 per cent on cars, would disproportionately risk the jobs of the voters that enabled his victory.

The Coronavirus crisis should, too, give Johnson room for thought. Not only because the crisis has meant most businesses have been too distracted to prepare for no deal (and probably couldn't afford to anyway). But because the crisis has shone a light on the sheer level of incompetence of the British state and its ministers. In carrying out no deal contingencies, it would be a bold move to assume the people who failed us the first time wouldn't do so again.

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Most significantly, for those who support a harder Brexit, no agreement would leave Britain's future relationship with the European Union up for grabs. For example, it would be much easier for a hypothetical Labour government to negotiate a new close political and economic partnership with the EU, than it would be for them to try and amend an existing, hard fought, treaty. As a result, going for no deal could ultimately risk the basic free trade agreement form of Brexit that so many have long campaigned for.

Some argue the form of agreement it looks like Johnson is about to sign isn't the sort of Brexit they campaigned for either. But this doesn't really stack up. Pretty much all of the key planks of the Vote Leave campaign are being delivered upon – from leaving the Single Market and Customs Union, to ending free movement, annual payments and the Common Agricultural Policy.

The main areas it looks like Johnson will compromise are on state aid and fisheries. Regarding state aid: until Dominic Cummings quixotically decided this was a major priority, this was not an area that had hitherto exercised many people. Since the 1980s, pretty much all British politicians, other than the Corbynistas, have agreed governments should restrict their involvement in private enterprise. And for good reason – experience has taught us that government officials are generally bad at picking winners; when they do, they tend to just waste taxpayers' money. It would be mad for negotiations to collapse over this topic.

Fishing, though, is a genuinely difficult issue. At the heart of key notions of sovereignty, it unsurprisingly played a large role in the iconography of the Leave campaign. The binary mathematics of allocating quotas also makes the issue much harder to fudge. However, the government should look at this soberly and responsibly. Accounting for only 0.02 per cent of the UK economy today, even if the fishing fleet could double in size post-Brexit, in absolute terms, the prize of full control of UK waters would not be huge.

Furthermore, as the EU could impose punitive tariffs in the event of no deal, it's not clear who we would then sell our much greater catch to: the breeds of fish caught around the UK don't tend to be popular with British diners. So, in the national interest, whilst the British government will probably have to make concessions over fisheries to secure an overall agreement, gaining a larger quota whilst retaining tariff free access to Europe, would still be a boon for British fishermen.

It's clear then, if Johnson wants to deliver on the promises of Vote Leave, protect the economy and finally put this seemingly never-ending saga behind us, he should do the right thing and strike an agreement – thereby getting Brexit done.

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