The time to reach a Brexit deal could be extended, according to the European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier. However, he also said UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s current Brexit proposal was a non-starter.
In an interview with Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper, Barnier said he was “strongly opposed” to UK prime Minister Theresa May’s Chequers proposals on future UK-EU trade and that the British offer on customs was illegal.
“We cannot relinquish control of our external borders and the revenue there to a third country. That’s not legal,” he said.
As reported by Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany’s international broadcaster, EU sources have said the Chequers deal is effectively now “history” for Brussels as British and EU negotiators restart talks this week.
His comments appear to be a roll-back on those he made last week that intimated the bloc could offer its “most ambitious” free trade agreement ever to Britain.
Meanwhile, May said in an article also published for The Sunday Telegraph newspaper on September 2 that she wouldn’t be “pushed into accepting compromises” on her Chequers agreement, under which there would be a “free trade area for goods” and the UK would retain existing regulatory and customs arrangements, but become in effect a rule-taker.
May said the July Chequers agreement was a “good deal for Britain,” although she has struggled to unite her own ruling Conservative party around it.
British Prime Minister Theresa May and her country’s decision to leave the European Union have become the butt of satirical humour even in Germany, as can be seen here by a float that featured in a Carnival procession in the western city of Mainz. But so far, she has stayed in power despite seemingly overwhelming odds.
A deal currently due by October 18 must be completed “by mid-November,” Barnier said.
“If we consider the time needed for the ratification of the exit agreement by the British parliament as well as by the European Parliament, then we must conclude the negotiations by mid-November. That is possible,” he added.