Prime Minister Boris Johnson may have to deal with several more years of intense post Brexit trade negotiation with the European Union considering that a regional parliament in Belgium has threatened to reject any agreement that goes against their laws.
Elio Di Rupo Belgium’s former Prime Minister and current President of Wallonia slammed what he described as “mood swing” from Boris Johnson during trade talks between the UK and EU, adding that a no-deal outcome could threaten up to 5,000 jobs in the region that has a population of 3.6million.
Elio Di Rupo warned he will not hesitate to ask the Belgian parliament to use its right to vote down any deal, as done with the EU’s agreement with Canada if he believes it would cross the crucial red lines set by the country’s Government.
In different tweets before the Brexit meeting between Mr Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in Brussels on Wednesday, Mr Di Rupo wrote, “It’s been months that we live according to the mood swings of @BorisJohnson.
“His attitude does not allow us to see clearly in the future of relations between the EU and the United Kingdom.
“For my Region, Wallonia, the #Brexit “No deal” could represent up to 5,000 jobs lost. The United Kingdom is Wallonia’s 7th supplier.
“I will not hesitate to ask my parliament to use its right of veto, as was the case for the #CETA , if future trade agreements with the United Kingdom cross the red lines set by my Government.
“I also want to highlight the need to find an agreement in the interest of the European regions which will be the most proportionately affected. I am thinking in particular of my sister region, Flanders.”
In 2016, the CETA trade deal was almost sunk by Wallonia after it issued a last-minute veto after seven years of negotiations.
Belgium’s former Prime Minister’s threat came before the meeting between Mr Johnson and Ms von der Leyen started and ended without a meaningful result. A Downing Street source warned, “Very large gaps remain between the two sides and it is still unclear whether these can be bridged.”
David Frost and Michel Barnier are expected to meet to continue the post-Brexit trade deal negotiations on Thursday before the weekend when it’s expected of them to make a firm decision about the future of the UK-EU relationship.