EU ultimatum to UK over Brexit talks

Posted by News Express | 11 September 2020 | 823 times

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•British PM Boris Johnson

 

The EU is demanding the UK ditches plans to change Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal “by the end of the month” or risk jeopardising trade talks.

The UK has published a bill to rewrite parts of the withdrawal agreement it signed in January.

The EU said this had “seriously damaged trust” and it would not be “shy” of taking legal action against the UK.

But cabinet minister Michael Gove said the UK had made it “perfectly clear” it would not withdraw the bill.

The government says Parliament is sovereign and can pass laws which breach the UK’s international treaty obligations.

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier said “trust and confidence are and will be key”, after the latest round of UK-EU trade talks wrapped up in London on Thursday.

His UK counterpart David Frost said “significant” differences remained over a free trade deal, but added discussions would continue in Brussels next week.

The source of the EU's concern is Mr Johnson’s proposed Internal Market Bill, which was published on Wednesday.

It addresses the Northern Ireland Protocol – an element of the withdrawal agreement designed to prevent a hard border returning to the island of Ireland.

The bill proposes no new checks on goods moving from Northern Ireland to Great Britain. It gives UK ministers powers to modify or “disapply” rules relating to the movement of goods that will come into force from 1 January, if the UK and EU are unable to strike a trade deal.

The publication of the bill prompted emergency talks between Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove and Maros Šefčovič, the European Commission Vice-President.

After two sets of meetings today – one on the trade talks and the other on the government’s plans to rewrite part of the agreed treaty from last year – there has been nothing less than a diplomatic explosion.

The EU issued a statement that was about as furious as any I’ve ever seen in this kind of context – demanding that the UK government withdraw the controversial plans to override the deal done with the EU last year by the end of the month, and threatening to take legal action if it doesn’t happen.

Essentially saying that there’s no chance of trade talks, and hence no chance of a deal, unless the UK backs down.

At this stage, however, anyone with more than a passing acquaintance with this government would know that’s inconceivable.

It is not, of course, impossible that further down the track the government may give way, or concede in quite a big way.

But right now, the chances of a move are slim to none.


Source: News Express

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