The UK has mocked the European Union for its unstable behaviour in the run-up to Brexit trade talks. some sources close to the UK 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 the price of a trade deal has been trashed. 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 UK 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 precede another negotiation mandate for talks with the United States, 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.
As it stands, the EU has a £100billion trade surplus with Britain, meaning the bloc could potentially be the big loser if tariffs are imposed, with splits within Europe over how to manage 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.
But Mr Barnier and commission president Ursula von der Leyen are stiff-necked that Britain must be subject to EU rules and regulations.
Although, the bloc is on the point of a diplomatic civil war as it struggles to set its new, post-Brexit budget. Since Britain has finally walked out on the EU, countries will now have to put in more fund to pay for the huge spending programme being called for by Brussels bureaucrats.
Britain leaving the EU has left a mammoth £63billion gap in the seven-year budget.
Meanwhile, the so-called “frugal four” of Denmark, Austria, Sweden and the Netherlands have refused to accept a budget of more than one per cent of the bloc’s GDP.
That is the first major issue within the bloc since Britain left the EU on January 31.
Following the UK exit, Germany will now have to pay an extra £8.3billion while the Netherlands’ bill will rise up to £2.9billion. While France will pay only £1.2billion more.
News of serious disagreement within the commission’s plans and the extra costs have shown that agreement is so far impossible to reach at this stage.
The EU had planned to fix its negotiations wit Britain by 11, February, ready to submit to ministers. Instead, there has been a series of top-level meetings from which drafts have leaked.
Mr Johnson will make it absolutely clear that Britain will not approve a worse deal than the ones that were offered to other third-party countries like Canada, South Korea and Japan.
Report from sources close to the UK Prime Minister shows that the UK is ambitious in how soon it wishes to meet the EU negotiators, with summits split between Brussels and London and beginning in Belgium on March 2.
The team will include negotiators from Taskforce Europe and policy experts from across government, led by Mr Frost.
Meanwhile, a Downing Street source said, “We regain full independence for the people of the UK at the end of this year – the negotiation is about defining the terms on which we do that.”