Brexit trade talks: Brussels ‘spooked’ as chances of no deal surge after EU tantrum at UK demand

Boris Johnson has embarrassed Michel Barnier by highlighting how information from the European Union at the beginning of Brexit negotiations showed how Brussels said a Canada-style free trade deal was the only available relationship with the EU.

The UK’s chief Brexit negotiator David Frost has warned Britain would press ahead with securing a Canada-style trade deal before the end of the transition period in December, adding the bloc’s demands for a level playing field undermine the fundamental purpose of Brexit.

The European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier slapped down those demands, insisting Britain is seeking market access rights that go far beyond those enjoyed by other countries with which it has trade deals, such as Canada and Japan.

But Number 10 has posted a slide from the EU in 2017, highlighting in a graph how Brussels insisted a Canada-style deal with Britain was the only available option.

Sharing the graphic, @Number10Press tweeted: “In 2017 the EU showed on their own slide that a Canada type FTA was the only available relationship for the UK.

“Now they say it’s not on offer after all.”

The latest response to the EU comes as Brussels prepares to toughen its position on any post-Brexit trade deal with the UK.

The latest version of the bloc’s negotiation mandate responds to serious concerns from European Union nations that the European Commission’s original draft did not do enough in requiring Britain remains closely aligned to EU regulations.

The new text highlights any post-Brexit trade deal must ensure a regulatory playing field is created that “will stand the test of time” and provide “sufficient guarantees, so as to uphold corresponding high levels of protection over time”.

The EU’s long term budget, that will determine spending from 2021-27, has been a sticking point for several months with a number of key areas still up for debate.

But EU chiefs have warned an agreement must be reached in the coming weeks, in order to ensure the financial framework is put in place for the start of next year.

Official talks will kick start on Thursday but it has been revealed that Austrian farmers are anxious of the outcome of the latest talks.

Josepf Moosbrugger, the President of the Chamber of Agriculture, said there is a “very worried mood” among Austrian farmers about how the budget talks will pan out.

The EU’s chief negotiator dismissed Boris Johnson’s requests to seal a Canada-style trade deal, insisting the UK must sign up to draconian level-playing field provisions because of its proximity to the bloc.

But Phil Hogan, the EU’s trade commissioner, has undermined his colleague’s argument for a special, bespoke and unique pact that ties Britain into the Brussels’ state aid, taxation, environmental and workers’ rights standards.

In a letter to the Dutch parliament, the Irishman made clear the EU’s deal with Canada already contains acceptable “fair trade” provisions.

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