‘Throwing pennies in the well!’ Boris’ frustration as VDL ‘silent’ in Brexit trade talks

Brexit: John Redwood claims European Union is 'rattled'

Insiders claim Boris Johnson tried to persuade European Union boss Ursula von der Leyen to agree a deal which would see the UK diverge from the bloc in return for proportionate tariffs but was met with a wall of silence when the pair met last Wednesday evening. According to once source the Prime Minister told aides: “I kept throwing pennies in the well and no sounds came back.”

I kept throwing pennies in the well and no sounds came back

Boris Johnson

The EU’s hardline stance has enraged senior Tory Brexiteers who believe Ms von der Leyen’s attitude proves Brussels is determined to stop Britain becoming a sovereign nation by offering unacceptable trade terms.

Former party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said: “When the UK voted to leave the European Union, they did so to be a sovereign nation controlling its own laws, its own powers and its own regional areas, its waters.

“What the European Union is determined to do is to stop that and their proposals at the moment are unacceptable to any sovereign nation.”

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Former Wales secretary Sir John Redwood accused the bloc of making “empty threats”.

He tweeted: “End the talks. The EU wants to stop us being independent. They cannot stop our trade.

“People and businesses buy and sell under WTO rules. The EU just makes empty threats.

“Will the Cabinet Office stop behaving as if it believes Project Fear scares?

“Tell us how we will use our new freedoms from EU exit to create a more prosperous UK.”

Tory MP David Jones said the Prime Minister “must keep faith with the British people and resist any temptation to accept a sub-optimal deal that would cheat them of the sovereignty for which they voted”.

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, the deputy chairman of the European Research Group said: “He should by all means negotiate, if necessary, until the stroke of 11 o’clock on New Year’s Eve.

“But if the EU still refuses a deal that fully respects our hard-won independence, he should leave the table in the knowledge that he has the full support of his countrymen and women.”

Negotiators have until this evening to find a breakthrough on a deal which would guarantee Britain zero-tariff and zero-quota access to the EU’s single market.

The outlook was today described as “very difficult” but officials said the Prime Minister is determined to explore every option to secure a free trade agreement.

A Government source said: “As things stand the offer on the table from the EU remains unacceptable.

“The Prime Minister will leave no stone unturned in this process, but he is absolutely clear: any agreement must be fair and respect the fundamental position that the UK will be a sovereign nation in three weeks’ time.”

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Mr Johnson is expected to give a press conference or issue a recorded statement to update the nation once he finishes a call with Europe’s top official later today.

The two leaders have already warned a no deal outcome looks more likely than an agreement in the trade negotiations.

With the Prime Minister describing no-deal as “very, very likely”, the Government has stepped up preparations for leaving the single market when transition arrangements end on December 31, with Mr Johnson taking personal control of ensuring the country is ready.

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