Sir Ivan Rogers, Mrs May’s former ambassador to Brussels who resigned in January 2017 following disagreements with Downing Street, launched a scathing attack on the Prime Minister in a speech at Cambridge University.
He said: “Nearly two-and-a-half years on from the referendum, we are – both on the EU trade deal, and on other post-Brexit trade deals – still lost in campaign mode on fantasy island.”
The ex-diplomat took aim at the Government’s belief chief EU negotiators would not exercise their “superpower muscles” and punish the UK for its decision to leave the bloc in a bid to protect the integrity of the single market.
He added key promises made by senior Cabinet ministers, insisting a final free trade deal would be completed by the Brexit deadline in March 2019, were “total fantasy”.
In a sharp rebuke to Mrs May, he said: “Such promises were, and have been proven, total fantasy.”
Sir Ivan also criticised the belief that bilateral interests of powerful nations including Germany would supersede the “dread theologian lawyers of Brussels”.
He said: “There is and can be, no loose inter-Governmentalist single market. This is a unicorn.
“Nor will the EU ever conclude/keep deep Mutual Recognition Agreements, and a generalise equivalence regime, with a non-member third country.
“This is fantasy island stuff peddled to fool the public that we can indeed have full, unchanged free trade with the EU cake, with none of the legal integration. But we cannot.”
The former official also attacked Brexit proposals put forward by leading Tory rebels including former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and chairman of the European Research Group Jacob Rees-Mogg, who have proposed implementing a “Supercalifragilistic Canada” style trade deal.
He warned that the “Canada ++” proposal was just as likely to be rejected as Mrs May’s Chequers blueprint, as it undermines the EU’s single market in its own right.
He said: “The EU is never going to agree to some generalised equivalence system which opens up regulation/legislation effectively to joint decision-making between itself and the UK.
“Yet that is of course what appears in the ‘Canada ++’ propositions we now see floated as superior to Chequers.
“As with the core economic elements of Chequers, the chance of the EU agreeing them is precisely zero.”
In a doom-laden prediction for the future, Sir Ivan predicted the Irish backstop will remain in place at the end of the transition period, with “no other prospective” arrangement on the table.
He warned the EU would then be in a position to force further concessions from the UK Government, and to “offer a thinner deal, more skewed to its interests, in the hope that the UK is desperate enough, pre-election, to get it done”.
Source : EXPRESS