EU trade boss tells Boris Johnson he will get ‘bare bones’ Brexit trade deal or none at all

THE EU’s trade chief has controversially declared Boris Johnson will either only get a “bare bones” trade deal from Brussels next year or none at all.

Sabine Weyand told business bosses last week that talks will start as soon as possible if Britain leaves on January 31 as planned.

Boris Johnson has been told he can expect a ‘bare bones’ Brexit trade deal or none at all
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Ms Weyand faced a backlash from Tory MPs for being the latest senior EU figure to intervene in Britain’s general election campaign
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But she insisted the PM’s vow to seal a new arrangement with the EU by December 31, 2020, doesn’t leave enough time to strike a comprehensive deal.

That leaves two likely options, the EU’s Director General for Trade Ms Weyand said; a thin “bare bones” deal or a hard exit from the transition period without any deal, “for which our No Deal planning is very useful”, she added.

The senior official – who will lead talks with Britain over the future relationship – risked fresh controversy with the remarks.

They flatly contradict the Tory leader, who has insisted that 11 months is “bags of time” to strike a comprehensive trade deal to cover all of the UK’s needs.

Ms Weyand faced a backlash from Tory MPs for being the latest senior EU figure to intervene in Britain’s general election campaign.

Former Brexit Secretary David Davis dubbed German national Ms Weyand’s remarks “the usual bluster”.


Mr Davis added: “What the last six months have taught us is when Brussels are faced with a Prime Minister determined to take Britain out of the EU, they come back to the table and talk.

“Ms Weyand can bluster all she likes, but she can explain to her own government how the European Commission’s strategy will harm German car industry exports to the UK.”

The remarks by Ms Weyand – who was EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier’s deputy – were made during a breakfast briefing to the Transatlantic Policy Network in Brussels on Wednesday last week.

During it, Ms Weyand also attacked Britain for walking away from the EU’s bloc, insisting that Europe needed to stick together to stand up to the might of China, Russia and the US.

An EU Commission spokesman last night refused to deny Ms Weyand’s comments. But the spokesman said the breakfast briefing was a private event so they would not be commenting on it.


Remian campaigners leaped on the remarks. Lib Dems foreign affairs spokesman Chuka Ummuna said: “It’s clear the Canada-style free trade agreement that the PM seeks cannot be negotiated within the next the next year.

“This is a simple confirmation that a vote for the Conservatives is a vote for the hardest of no deal Brexits at the end of next year.”

A basic trade deal would involve a straightforward agreement for zero tariffs and quotas on goods but no detail on regulations, meaning there would be significant checks and delays for products crossing borders.

Addressing the CBI yesterday, Mr Johnson again repeated his declaration that there would be “absolutely no reason” why a deal could not be cracked in the 11 months available.

The PM can extend the transition period under which the UK must abide by all EU rules for up to two years to December 2022, but has vowed not to.

Ms Weyand’s remarks are the third intervention in the election campaign so far by senior EU figures.

EU Counmcil chief Donald Tusk urged Remioaners not to give up and EU Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan sadi the UK will only get a swift trade deal next year if it signs up to a Europe-wide level playing field.

Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay attacked Mr Tusk on Sunday for showing “a total disregard for democracy.

Mr Barclay added: “This interference in our domestic election campaign shows where the EU elites’ real sympathies lie: with a Corbyn government which would renegotiate a deal and then campaign against it in another referendum”.


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