Brexit: Michel Barnier says 'we will see' as he leaves UK
The Government announced it will reintroduce elements of the Internal Market Bill to Parliament on Monday and a Finance Bill on Tuesday. The legislation includes two clauses which ministers have admitted would break international law relating to the Northern Ireland protocol signed in January.
Ministers argue the Bill – which has been rejected by the House of Lords – is needed to protect internal trade within the UK if there is no trade deal after December 31.
Meanwhile, the EU has accused the UK of undermining the withdrawal agreement and threatened to stop trade talks.
They said putting the bills forward would result in a breakdown in talks and a no deal Brexit.
Ms Adler said if talks resume next week they will become “even thornier” as a result of the move by the Government to publish the Bill.
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The BBC’s Europe editor explained the play by the Prime Minister has forced both sides to “scramble for a deal” ahead of the looming deadline.
In a comment piece, she wrote: “The government insists the clauses are necessary, as a safety net, to ensure the smooth circulation of goods within the UK, in case of a no deal situation with the EU.
“But the European Parliament has warned it will veto any deal with the UK, if Downing Street includes the clauses.
“Breaking the treaty is unacceptable, says the EU. Safety net or not. So the pressure is on. On all sides.
“We’re witnessing that last minute, five to midnight scramble for a deal, widely predicted, but which the UK and EU always said was the last thing they wanted.”
Brexit negotiators agreed to pause talks on Friday evening without a breakthrough and Ms Adler highlighted a key reason for the impasse.
She added: “Neither side will sign on the dotted line if they can’t sell this deal as a victory.”
The Internal Market Bill holds so much influence in the outcome of talks as both sides promised to set up a joint committee to look at goods travelling from the UK mainland to Northern Ireland.
Britain will leave both the EU single market and customs union.
The committee would highlight goods at risk of inadvertently entering the EU single market via Ireland and those would be subject to trade tariffs.
But the proposed Bill would allow the UK to unilaterally determine which goods required export declarations.
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After a week of tense talks in London, UK negotiator David Frost and Michel Barnier agreed to stop talks after failing to make headway on issues including fishing, governance and the so-called level playing field on competition.
On his way to back to Brussels this morning, the EU chief said: “We keep calm, as always, and if there is still a way, we will see.”
The Prime Minister will hold an emergency call this afternoon with European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen in a bid to get talks back on track.
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