The UK government will have to “take a position in the coming days” on whether a Brexit deal can be reached, Cabinet Minister George Eustice has said, accusing the EU of making “a lot of additional demands” on the last minute. that cast doubt on the prospects of a deal.
In interviews Sunday morning, the Environment Secretary echoed overnight reports that the talks were close to collapse, with a UK source close to the negotiations telling reporters: ” This is the last roll of the dice. “
Eustice told Sky News’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday that the government was planning to reinstate parts of the domestic market bill that violate international law, but also accused the EU of taking a “ridiculous” position on fishing rights that it was not consistent with the same laws.
He said the Ridge talks were “in a very difficult position, there is no point in denying that.”
“There was some hope that progress was being made early last week, and at one point it seemed like there could be a breakthrough, but then the European Union added a lot of additional lawsuits after that, causing some problems.
“We will continue to work on these negotiations until it does not make sense to do so anymore, but there is no point in denying that what happened at the end of last week was a setback.”
Eustice’s claim that late EU demands threatened the talks has been rejected by EU officials.
On Sunday morning, unidentified cabinet ministers who had supported staying in the Brexit referendum were quoted in the Sunday Times as giving Boris Johnson their “rock solid” support if he concluded that a deal was not necessary.
One said: “The prime minister should do his best. It has full cabinet support, 100% rock solid. “
Another cabinet member said: “I’d rather we had an agreement, but he has a no-deal mandate if that’s his criteria.”
Eustice told the BBC’s Andrew Marr: “We are probably in the final days in terms of deciding if there can be a deal.
“If the environment warms up again and really great progress is made and it’s just about working out the details, you can always find more time, you can always extend. But unless we can resolve these fundamental divergences right now, we will have to take a position in the next few days. “
As fishing and the so-called “level playing field” remain hot spots, EU sources have suggested that the British government may not be negotiating in good faith. An official quoted in Sunday papers said that “where there is a will, there is a way, the question is whether there is a will” and accused Boris Johnson of “still wanting to have his cake and eat it.”
Eustice said the EU’s demands on future fishing rights were “ridiculous” and would mean that the bloc would have access to British waters “in perpetuity”.
He stated that the industry could handle the tariffs imposed in a no-deal scenario, but that such tariffs could be unmanageable for farmers, and said: “The main species that we export, the levels of tariffs on fish, unlike agriculture in actually, they are manageable. “
He also acknowledged that there would be “some impact” on food prices if a trade agreement was not reached. “There will be some impact on prices, but the analysis that some of the economic modelers have done is that it is quite modest, less than 2% as a result of tariffs,” he said.
“It would be higher on some things, like beef and pork, but they make up a relatively small proportion of the overall family store.”
Shadow labor ministers declined to say they would vote in favor of any deal on the future relationship between the UK and the EU.
“Let’s see,” said Cabinet Office shadow minister Rachel Reeves. “At the moment, the priority is to reach an agreement, but we will have to look at the content of an agreement, but also any legislation that reaches parliament.
“We are not going to give you a blank check, but I think I have been very clear both today and in previous programs with you, Andrew, that the most important thing is that the government reaches an agreement.”
Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds told Ridge: “Clearly, we need to see what has been agreed … But let’s hope there is an agreement because there seems to be two roads ahead at the moment: a path for leave the transition period. ” without an agreement and we leave with an agreement, and we know how catastrophic the result would be without agreement.
Gordon Brown warned that the United Kingdom faces an “economic war” with Europe and the United States if no agreement is reached, saying that Johnson’s aggressive approach could make him the “most isolated prime minister in the history of times. peace”.
Warning of “huge international implications” if no agreement is reached, the former prime minister said: “We would be in an economic war with Europe that would cost us dearly … So Boris Johnson is going to end up as the most isolated prime minister. in the history of peacetime, without friends in the whole world, because he has simply chosen a path of confrontation. “
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