BORIS Johnson has called for some urgency from Brussels on the Brexit negotiations, urging the EU to put a “tiger in the tank” after Michel Barnier claimed the talks on the divorce settlement were deadlocked.
The Foreign Secretary, responding to the chief EU negotiator’s gloomy assessment, which means the bloc will not engage in trade talks with the UK any time soon, said: “Deadlock? Let’s wait and see. We have put a good offer out there. Let’s see how we get on in the October European Council going forward to Christmas.”
Mr Johnson, who faced calls to be sacked over charges of disloyalty to Theresa May on Brexit, said that, despite Mr Barnier’s downbeat assessment of the talks, he remained very optimistic that progress could be made.
“As for getting ready for no deal, the Prime Minister has made it very, very clear that we are going to get a deal, we are working for a great deal but, obviously, we must make the right preparations as and when it is necessary for a no-deal scenario.”
He added: “Let’s now get on with it to the next phase; that’s what we are saying. We are looking for some urgency from our friends and partners and it’s time I think to put a bit of a tiger in the tank and get this thing done.”
Earlier, while Mr Barnier said the fifth round of talks had ended without taking any “great steps forward,” and that there was a “disturbing deadlock” on the negotiations regarding the divorce settlement, he noted: “I’ve been saying since the Florence speech that there is a new momentum and I remain convinced today that, with political will, decisive progress is within our grasp in the next two months.”
At a joint press conference in Brussels, David Davis presented a more optimistic outlook, saying while there was still much work to be done, the talks had made “significant progress” since June.
But Labour’s Keir Starmer called on the Brexit Secretary to seek an additional round of emergency talks to try to make progress before next week’s European Council summit.
“Ministers have wasted months of the Brexit talks fighting amongst themselves,” declared the Shadow Brexit Secretary.
“This increases the chances that Britain will crash out of the EU without a deal. That would be catastrophic for jobs and living standards and must be rejected as a viable option.
“The Government must recognise the gravity of the situation. They must drop their ideological red lines and work round the clock to find a resolution to the current situation.”
In response, Mr Davis said the Government was negotiating in a “spirit of pragmatism” to get a good deal and that it was “not a question of time or effort…but of scope and content”.
He stressed: “The key to answering many of these issues is to open up a discussion about the future”; that is, a UK/EU trade deal.
But talks on this will not begin as the Conservative Government had hoped for by next week’s European Council; indeed Donald Tusk, the European Council President, has already suggested that it now looked as though such talks would not take place until December at the earliest.
Sir Vince Cable for the Liberal Democrats said: “The Prime Minister’s willingness to entertain the possibility of no-deal scenario is utterly reckless and businesses will no doubt now be accelerating their contingency plans.
“This divided Cabinet is putting personal politics above the national interest and we are all going to pay for it,” he added.
The SNP accused the Tory Government of “gambling with the future of families” across the UK after noting how research by the Dutch bank, Rabobank, warned British workers faced a hit of £11,500 each in the event of a hard Brexit.
In a separate development tour operator Thomas Cook told holidaymakers they would not receive compensation if flights grounded after Brexit, which came after Chancellor Philip Hammond raised the possibility earlier this week.
Elsewhere, a Sky News poll found 74 per cent of the public believed “no deal is better than a bad deal” while 26 per cent thought “any deal is better than no deal”.
Source : HeraldScotland