Chance of ‘Hard Brexit’ Grows as EU Head Negotiator Rules out Tailored Deal: ‘UK Must Face the Consequences’
Michel Barnier, the head of the European Union Brexit negotiating team, has poured cold water on Theresa May’s hopes of negotiating a unique Brexit deal just days after it was announced talks could move onto the next stage, ruling out a “cherry pick” of trade deal features.
Warning that Britain could not expect a good deal in the next stage of negotiations, Barnier may have inadvertently strengthened the case for a so-called ‘hard’ no-deal Brexit, where Britain walks away from the bloc and does business on World Trade Organization terms — the favourite option for a number of key Brexiteers including Nigel Farage who believe the present trajectory is for a Brexit in name only.
Making his prediction, Barnier said in an interview with Prospect Magazine: “The most difficult part remains to be done. It is also probably the most interesting. But the British have to understand it cannot be business as usual. We are ready to start working with the government on the three axes it has indicated: exit from the Union, exit from the single market, exit from the customs union. But the clock is ticking. The deadline of March 29, 2019 is their own doing.”
“They have to realise there won’t be any cherry picking. We won’t mix up the various scenarios to create a specific one and accommodate their wishes, mixing, for instance, the advantages of the Norwegian model, member of the single market, with the simple requirements of the Canadian one. No way. They have to face the consequences of their own decision.”
The remarks come just hours afterBoris Johnsonwarned against Britain becoming a “vassal state” of the European Union following Brexit negotiations, where a botched Brexit process left Britain behest to European Union rules but with no say in how they were made. Instead, Johnson said the British government must “maximise the benefits of Brexit” by getting divergence from the bloc’s rules so that it could do “proper free trade deals” with other countries.
Johnson’s remarks echoed those of Tory backbencher Jacob Rees-Mogg who said of the so-called ‘transition period’ that has been apparently agreed to by Theresa May with the European Union: “We cannot be a colony of the EU for two years from 2019 to 2021, accepting new laws that are made without any say so of the British people or Parliament or Government.”
“That is not leaving the EU, that is being a vassal state of the EU and I would be very surprised if that is Government policy.”