Little progress has been made in trade talks between the EU and UK since the end of January. Boris Johnson has since said there is no sense in thinking about timelines beyond October 15. But Belgian MEP Philippe Lamberts has said the Prime Minister’s terms are a “deal-breaker” for the EU.
Speaking to BBC Newsnight, Mr Lamberts said: “If the UK Government seriously considers reneging on an existing and legally binding international agreement then yes, it’s a deal-breaker.
“How can we trust a negotiation partner that considers his own signature may not be worth anything.
“The very fact that an elected Government seriously considers the option of reneging on a legally-binding international treaty is a sign that anything is possible.
“If the country’s attached to rules-based order this should never be considered as an option.”
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The UK’s chief negotiator has called for “more realism” from the EU on the eve of crunch negotiations to broker a post-Brexit trade deal.
Lord Frost said the two sides “can no longer afford to go over well-trodden ground” in the deadlocked talks, as he warned progress must be made this week to get an agreement in place for the end of the transition period.
He was speaking ahead of a meeting with his EU counterpart Michel Barnier for the eighth round of talks beginning in London on Tuesday.
Downing Street has sought to increase pressure on Brussels, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson setting a five-week deadline for trade talks to succeed in time for the transition’s end on December 31.
He said the UK’s position derives from the “fundamentals of being a sovereign state” and called for the EU to “fully recognise this reality”.
“If they can’t do that in the very limited time we have left then we will be trading on terms like those the EU has with Australia, and we are ramping up our preparations for the end of the year,” Lord Frost added.
Senior EU figures reacted angrily after it was reported the Government was set to table new legislation which could override key elements of the Withdrawal Agreement that sealed the UK’s departure from the bloc in January.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said the Government was proposing “limited clarifications” to the law to ensure ministers can preserve the gains of the Good Friday Agreement in the event of no deal.