BRUSSELS Brexit negotiators have become enraged by the UK’s attempts to strike a reasonable trade agreement, making a no-deal departure even more likely, a eurosceptic former MEP has warned.
Daniel Hannan said EU negotiators wanted Britain to be subservient rather than reasonable and were only ever in interested in holding on to some sort of power over a breakaway UK. He said such an attitude had become clearer during the latest round of trade negotiations which appear to be heading for deadlock.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph, he said: “They don’t want Britain to be reasonable; they want it to be subservient.
“Throughout the process, their objective has been not to maximise the prosperity of their citizens but to retain a measure of suzerainty over a breakaway province.
“Given what we now see of their attitude, perhaps a deal was never on the cards.”
The Tory former MEP for the South East made his comments after a senior EU figure told Britain it had to be “more realistic”.
France’s former Europe minister MEP Nathalie Loiseau said it was “possible” that the UK and EU would reach a deal but that “much progress has to be made in the negotiation”.
The latest round of negotiations, which ended on Friday, failed to break the deadlock but talks are set to continue.
Chief negotiator Michel Barnier said there had been “no significant areas of progress”.
His UK counterpart, David Frost, said they would have to “intensify and accelerate” the process if there was to be any chance of an agreement.
Ms Loiseau said: “For the time being, the UK negotiator is asking, for instance, for freedom of movement for service providers coming from the UK – we have never provided it to any of our trade partners.
“He is asking for reciprocity in terms of professional qualifications. This is something that we provide only to member states. So the UK side has to become more realistic.”
A major sticking point remains the so-called level playing field, which is aimed at preventing the UK from undercutting EU standards on issues including workers’ rights, environmental protection and state subsidies.
Ms Loiseau said: “We believe on both sides of the Channel in high standards – so why don’t we keep them?
“Why don’t we commit ourselves legally as we have already done politically to keep these standards high, now and in the future?
“To have high standards, converging standards, equivalent standards, for the benefit of our peoples.”
As it stands, Britain will leave the EU single market when the current Brexit transition period comes to an end at the end of the year with nothing to replace it unless a deal is agreed.
And Mr Hannan said there were no good arguments for extending the period of transition beyond December 31 despite the demands of some vocal Brexit critics.
He said: “The prolonged culture war that followed the referendum has conditioned many Europhiles to demand an extension, not because it would bring benefits, but they hate everything associated with Brexit.
“The Lib Dem, Green, SNP, Plaid and SDLP leaders have pleaded with the EU to drag things out.
“The EU, naturally, has jumped at that suggestion. Michel Barnier floated it again on Friday.
From his point of view, keeping Britain as a non-voting member is the best of all worlds.
“Brussels officials even proposed – as though making a generous concession – that Britain could be excluded from the EU budget during any extension, paying a lump sum instead.”
They don’t want Britain to be reasonable; they want it to be subservient