LEADING officials inside Whitehall believe that a major “blow up” will spark a collapse in the Brexit talks within the next six to eight weeks, as trade tensions between the UK and EU continue to worsen.
Whitehall officials have predicted when Brexit talks will finally collapse as tensions between the UK and EU continue to sour. According to Sky News’ Sam Coates, many involved in negotiating the deal expect a “major blow up” in just six weeks time that could end the talks for good. This comes as UK’s Brexit negotiator David Frost publicly accused Brussels of finding the UK “unworthy” of the right trade deal.
In his most savage remarks yet, Mr Frost ripped into the EU for offering the UK a low-quality trade agreement that he says would force the country to “bend to EU norms”.
In an extraordinary letter to the EUs chief negotiator Michel Barnier, the British negotiator called Brussels proposal that EU state aid rules be part of British law “egregious”.
He added that it was “simply not a provision any democratic country could sign”.
Sam Coates told Sky News viewers on Wednesday evening that many in Whitehall involved in the Brexit talks now feel like a collapse in the talks is inevitable.
He said: “Many in Whitehall expect a blow up in the next six to eight weeks, possibly over the Northern Ireland border.
“Britain and Europe have signed a deal but will Britain adhere to the obligations in that to Europe’s satisfaction?
“Barnier has said that if Britain and the EU cannot agree over Northern Ireland, there will be no trade agreement.”
In Parliament this week, cabinet office minister Michael Gove singled out the EU’s demands over UK fisheries as a huge sticking point.
He told MPs: “The EU wants us to obey the rules of their club even though we have left it and they want the same access to our fishing grounds while restricting our access to their access
“It remains difficult to reach an agreement while the EU maintains such an idealogical approach.”
Mr Gove had said that success in the fourth round of the talks starting in June depended upon “the EU recognising that the UK is sovereign”.
Michel Barnier escalated the row on Wednesday by warning the UK has no “automatic entitlement” to trade with the EU on favourable terms.
Pedro Silva Pereira, who is one of the MEPs overseeing the talks on behalf of the European parliament, said the negotiations needed a “political wake up call”.
The Portuguese MEP added: “And it is Boris Johnson who needs to wake up.”
It is understood that the last chance to request an extension to the transition period is in June – but Downing Street has so far ruled out considering such a request.