Brexit row gets even tougher as France angrily responds to a statement from the UK about post-Brexit transport plan across the Channel and warned the EU “won’t fall for a kind of intimidation at the European level” to reach an agreement.
The major anger is on the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson insisting on the Internal Market Bill, which seeks to override key elements of the Withdrawal Agreement signed with the EU last year which as a result will break international law.
France’s Europe minister Clément Beaune in a statement to the Financial Times said, “Of course the signals that have been sent in the past few days are damaging. Anything which disrupts, disturbs or increases tensions in the negotiations is regrettable and we won’t fall for a kind of intimidation at the European level.”
UK Cabinet minister Michael Gove earlier this week hinted of access permits for international lorries to enter Kent and warned of huge queues of up to 7,000 vehicles waiting to cross the Channel.
Responding to the Channel plan Mr Beaune dismissed and described it as a plot to increase pressure on the EU and snapped back by saying “It won’t work. “So let’s not waste time with these unfortunate tactical games and let’s negotiate fairly.”
He, however, said France and the EU remain committed to agreeing on a Brexit deal with the UK but also warned it would not be possible to grant Britain wider access to the continent’s market unless it agreed to respect the bloc’s health and environmental rules and restrictions on state aid for companies so as to ensure a level playing ground with France and others.
Mr Beaune said, “If we too have to prepare for ‘no deal’, we are aware of that and we are accelerating these preparations in France. We are preparing for all scenarios. The best outcome is still to have an agreement. It’s desirable from a commercial, political and strategic perspective.
“If — and I hope it’s not a serious possibility — if the commitments already made were not respected by the UK, it would obviously be extremely difficult for us to make other agreements and to organise our future relationship while having this doubt in our minds.
“So I hope it’s just a bad moment. I hope the British parliament and the British government return to strict respect for the commitments made, which is effectively a condition for confidence and the putting in place of the future relationship.”
The pound has risen against both the euro and US dollar, adding hope the British currency will end the week firmly on the front foot.
Sterling was up 0.3 per cent against the dollar at $1.2784, after falling to a two-month low of $1.2676 on Wednesday. Then, against the euro, the British currency was also up 0.4 per cent at 91.24 pence, after hitting a one-week high of 91.13 on Thursday.
However, the future of the pound remains bleak as talk of negative rates, the predicted risk of a no-deal Brexit and a second wave of the coronavirus lockdown measures being imposed weigh down the currency.
Financial experts have warned that the biggest threat the sterling will face is possibility of a no-deal Brexit outcome between the UK and EU by the end of the transition period on December 31.
Ireland’s Foreign Minister said there are golden opportunities for the UK and EU to seal a post-Brexit trade deal before the House of Lords considers the Internal Market Bill.
“I believe there is a window for negotiations that I hope the two negotiating teams, in particular the UK, will take in terms of giving the signals that are necessary to move this process into a more intensive phase. It is possible to get a deal here,” Simon Coveney said.
Hopes of a post-Brexit deal has currently increased after the EU negotiators claimed the PM’s hardline tactics had helped increase the opportunity for a deal.