The news is currently dominated by COVID-19, but events like Brexit still continue in the background. The negotiations between the UK and EU are majorly slowed by COVID-19, but the deadlines are still fixed.
Welcome to this week's Bible in the News. With Coronavirus having dominated the headlines for the last ten weeks, Brexit almost feels like ancient history. The political chaos of last year seems a world away, and it is easy to forget that Brexit is far from “done”. Although Britain officially left the European Union back on January 31st, very little has actually changed. The trade relationship with Europe is still the same, Britain is still in alinement with the laws and regulations of the EU, and so we are still only partway through the whole Brexit process. Britain won’t have truly left the European Union until the end of the transition period, when the so-called “future relationship”, which is still yet to be agreed, will come into force. The transition period is due to end at the end of this year, exactly seven months away today.
Even before COVID-19 dominated the worldwide political agenda, the idea of being able to complete negotiations for a future relationship by the end of the year was already thought impossible. The new European Commission President Andrea Von der Leyen said that the timeline was “very, very tight” and that it would be “impossible” to come to an agreement by the deadline.
If it was “very, very tight” when it was the number one priority, how is it possible for it to be completed in time while being pushed into second place by COVID-19?
So, it might seem that this deadline of December 31st is destined to be another March 29th, April 12 or October 31st – the last three missed Brexit “deadlines” – if it wasn’t for a number of factors that make it different, and more difficult to extend. Firstly, Theresa May is no longer the Prime Minister and has been replaced by Boris Johnson, who can’t afford to be seen as choosing to extend. He won the election based on accusing the opposition parties of forcing him to extend. Secondly, there is a legal clause that prohibits any extension to the transition period, but this, of course, could be changed if there was the political will, but finally and more crucially, any extension has to be requested by June 30th, which is now only four weeks away.
The government, so far at least, has been clear that they won’t extend the transition period. They have said this before the election, after the election, before COVID-19 and after COVID-19. If they are going to U-turn on this, they only now have weeks left.
So why is this of interest to us as Bible believers?
As has been mentioned on many previous Bible in the News editions, from Ezekiel 38 we believe that Britain, at the time of the end will be found politically opposing the actions of a confederate Europe.
The reasons for this have been explained many times previously on Bible in the News.
If the UK does leave with an close future relationship agreed, future events will have to bring the UK into that position. If the UK does end up leaving with a distant, or even no future relationship at all agreed, then we will be substantially closer to the situation we believe we see prophesied in Ezekiel 38. A situation where they aren’t close friends, where there is no close relationship, but mistrust and animosity.
The last round of talks certainly hasn’t grown trust between the EU and the UK, in fact, it seems like it has brought the opposite. The EU chief negotiator in a recent letter criticised the “tone” of the UK and has said that more “dynamism” is needed to avoid a stalemate. This letter was a response to one by David Frost, the UK’s negotiator, which heavily criticised the negotiating position of the EU.
It is clear that there is little trust at present between the parties, and it seems difficult for a close relationship agreement to be made in the time left. We will have to see.
But with the news dominated by COVID-19, which is without a doubt interesting for Bible students, it is easy to miss some of the other events, like Brexit, going on behind the scenes. We see Israel preparing to annex parts of the mountains of Israel, the area we are specifically told Russia and Europe come against, we see Europe outraged by the action and demanding a response, we see preparations for trade deals between Britain and its young lions, and we see less reliance on NATO in Europe.
All these things, quietly happening in the background are events required by Bible prophecy before the last times, spoken of on many occasions in Bible in the News, but so easily forgotten with the news so dominated, as it is right now.
All things are in God’s hands and in his timeline, but we can for sure see at the moment things heading in the direction that we know is God’s final plan, the state of the world when he chooses to send his son back to his earth.
Join us again next week for another edition of Bible in the News.
This has been Paul Barnes joining you.