Brexit trade talks blasted by No10 as UK lashes out at ‘divided and distracted’ EU
DOWNING Street has mocked the European Union for its bizarre behaviour in the run-up to Brexit trade talks.
Sources close to Prime Minister Boris Johnson point to the EU’s delay in publishing its negotiation mandate and last week’s chaos over its budget.
The recent suggestion by the EU that the Elgin Marbles could be part of a price of a trade deal has been dismissed out of hand.
And last night a source close to the British negotiations said: “On the UK side, progress has been remarkably smooth, with a clear decision-making framework in place and a sense of unity among ministers.
“By contrast, the EU seems divided, distracted by other issues like marbles, instead of the important decisions on what our trading relationship will actually look like.
The new plan is for them to approve their mandate on February 25 but it is anyone’s guess whether they will.”
The Prime Minister is set to sign off the British negotiating mandate on Tuesday and unveil it on Thursday after MPs have returned from their short recess.
This will be followed by another negotiation mandate for talks with the US, to be published in the first week of March.
The move will heap pressure on Brussels to compromise with Britain, as heading for a rival deal with the US and other countries would potentially make access to the UK market more difficult for the EU.
Currently, the EU has a £100billion trade surplus with Britain, meaning the bloc could potentially be the big loser if tariffs are imposed.
There are already splits within Europe over how to handle the UK talks, with Hungary leading a push for the Brussels team led by Michel Barnier to take a more constructive approach than it did with the withdrawal agreement.
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