Britain's general election 2019

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his girlfriend Carrie Symonds gesture as they arrive at 10 Downing Street on the morning after the general election in London, Britain, December 13, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

13-12-2019REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

Prime Minister Boris Johnson won a sweeping election victory on a promise to "Get Brexit done", but a reality check awaits for voters hoping that the messy divorce is finally over.

It's just the beginning.

Johnson should now be able to secure parliamentary approval for the withdrawal deal he struck with the European Union in October so that Brexit happens on Jan. 31.

Britain then goes into a transition period until the end of 2020, time enough, says Johnson, to negotiate a new relationship with the EU, including on trade.

But EU diplomats and officials say the following issues will be sticking points which could take Britain to the cliff edge of a no-deal exit one year from now.

TIME
The EU hopes to start trade talks with Britain by March, leaving just 10 months to strike a deal and get it approved by London and the EU, including member states' parliaments.

Trade agreements with the EU typically take years to complete, and few in Brussels believe the transition period will be long enough to seal a deal with Britain.

The transition period can be prolonged by one or two years but London must request an extension by the end of June.

LEVEL PLAYING FIELD
The EU insists it will not seal a trade deal with a large, economically powerful neighbour without solid provisions to guarantee fair competition.

The EU's demands will focus on environmental and labour standards, as well as state aid rules to ensure Britain would not be able to offer products on the bloc's single market at unfairly low prices.

In addition to Johnson's push for a "zero tariff, zero quota" trade deal, the bloc wants a guarantee of "zero dumping".

"If the UK becomes a cross between a casino and Singapore on Thames, we will be very focused on level playing field issues," a senior EU diplomat said.

Britain's conundrum is that it will be under pressure to loosen rules on agricultural and food standards to strike a bilateral trade deal with the United States, but this would be crossing a red line for the EU, which would restrict access to its market to protect its own producers.

FISHERIES
Fishing is a thorny issue because EU countries will no longer be able to operate in British waters as they are now.

The two sides will probably negotiate fishing quotas, as the EU currently does with Norway, whereby so-called total allowable catches are shared among EU countries but officials say this will be a drawn-out and potentially acrimonious process.

RULES OF ORIGIN
With industry supply chains in the EU currently crossing borders multiple times for products like cars and drugs, agreeing exact rules to designate where products come from - and hence what regulations and taxes apply - will also be tricky.

SECURITY & DATA SHARING
The EU and Britain have vowed to work closely on security, including by sharing sensitive data for criminal cases. However, agreeing such procedures with third countries has proven complicated and time-consuming for the EU in the past.

EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED?
EU diplomats said that with a large majority in parliament, Johnson may pay less heed to his own hardline Brexiteers who want a deep split from the bloc as he negotiates a future relationship.

He may also feel under less pressure to stick to his pre-election pledge not to extend the transition period beyond 2020.

However, if Johnson fails to reach an agreement with the EU by the end of next year, and he refuses to negotiate past his own deadline, then the legal default would still be a no-deal divorce.

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Yogi / Hace about 1 month

Are the pro Brexit people who comment here resident in Mallorca? Just asking because every Brit expat I know here is aghast at what's happening in the UK and with Brexit. Tough luck for the Brit expats and Brits generally, but like S.O. I agree. The least you could do when spouting off is spell correctly!

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S.O. / Hace about 1 month

Since I am a Spanish citizen I couldn’t really care less about your election results. But I can spell English without the aid of predictive test. If you are proud of your country, and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be, you could at least learn to spell Britannia correctly!

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Mark / Hace about 1 month

That’s for people like you who rely on predictive text you must be a sad labour undemocratic remainder oops remainer who doesn’t like the result 😂😂😂

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S.O. / Hace about 1 month

“rule brittania”? You can’t even spell the name properly! 🙄

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Mark / Hace about 1 month

The Eu will be reeling now don’t think for one minute they are going to dictate a deal we hold ALL THE CARDS GO BORIS rule brittania 😂😂

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