The European Union is demanding a potential veto on the United Kingdom’s post-Brexit laws and regulations, The Times newspaper reported on Saturday, citing senior government officials.
The British daily reported that the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, is said to be insisting that London must agree not to implement any change to UK legislation that could distort trade with the bloc without first consulting Brussels.
Barnier’s UK counterpart, David Frost, has rejected the approach, The Times reported.
“The EU need to realise that what they’re asking for is at odds with what the British people voted for, twice, and not something we could accept,” a British source said.
EU diplomats said earlier that Barnier went to London on Tuesday to tell Frost the UK must move on state aid, or there will not be a Brexit agreement.
Afterwards, Barnier said London had not shown enough flexibility and creativity on fair competition, fisheries and solving disputes in order to seal a deal on new trade ties by a “strict deadline” of end-October.
Senior officials in British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office see only a 30-40 percent chance that there will be a Brexit trade agreement due to the impasse, The Times reported.
“There is a risk of a no-deal scenario at the end of the year,” an EU official said. “People need to be ready for that.”
European Council President Charles Michel told reporters that “sooner or later, the UK should clarify what they want”.
“It’s not possible to leave the European club and at the same time keep all the benefits,” he said.
“We have no certainty that we’ll reach a deal. I hope it will be possible – but not at all cost.”
Johnson said if the EU was sensible, it would give the UK the Canada-style solution it is seeking. But he added that the UK was ready for any eventuality.
The UK left the EU on January 31, turning its back after 47 years on the post-World War II project that sought to build the ruined nations of Europe into a global power.
The British exit followed more than three years of wrangling over an exit deal since the 2016 referendum that sent shockwaves through global financial markets.
Since Brexit, talks on a new trade deal have so far made little headway.
But fears in London, Brussels and other European capitals are mounting of a British exit without a trade deal.
Failure to reach an agreement could roil financial markets as nearly a trillion US dollars in trade, from car parts and medicines to lamb and fish, would be thrown into turmoil.