Brexiteer blames ‘EU bureaucracy’ for lack of progress in trade talks

Tory Brexiteer MP Andrew Bridgen. Photograph: Channel 4 News.

Tory Brexiteer MP Andrew Bridgen. Photograph: Channel 4 News. - Credit: Archant

A Tory backbencher has desperately tried to blame Brussels for the possibility of a no-deal Brexit by accusing 'EU bureaucracy' for the recent slowdown in talks.

In the latest swipe at Brussels, prominent Eurosceptic MP Andrew Bridgen said it was the bloc's 'bureaucracy' that was risking talks ending in no deal.

He told the Express: 'One of the reasons [for the impasse] is the bureaucracy of the EU.

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'They've got to get 27 heads of states to agree to a negotiating position, whereas David Frost can speak to Boris and Boris can make a decision.

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'Barnier has to speak to the Commission, and then the Commission has got to get the approval of 27 heads of states.'

He then claimed that demands made by EU negotiators had been 'unreasonable'.

'Ultimately what the EU's demands are, given we are now a sovereign nation, accepting EU regulations, rights to fishing grounds and the European Court of Justice to rule over the agreement of our future relationship,' he added.

'They are not demands that any independent country that hasn't lost a war would agree to.'

Bridgen also defended Downing Street's decision not to extend negotiations.

'There was never any point to extending the transition period,' he said.

'Extending the time was never going to break the deadlock – the EU would have never changed their position.'

Earlier, Michel Barnier warned ERG chair Mark Francois that Brussels would never accept a trade deal that did not include the level playing field guarantees for the EU or a 'balanced fisheries agreement'.

'The two preconditions were also included in the Political Declaration signed by the prime minister Johnson,' he highlighted.

He added that it was also 'voted for by the House of Commons, including yourself'.

Barnier met his UK counterpart, David Frost, in London this week for 'informal' talks. Asked on the whether there had been any positive takeaways from the discussion, a European Commission spokesperson said that 'significant divergences' still remained between the two sides.

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