MEP claims Brexit talks stalled due to No 10's 'paralysis' over Dominic Cummings' departure

Manfred Weber in the European parliament

Manfred Weber in the European parliament - Credit: European parliament

A German MEP has claimed Downing Street is in a state of paralysis caused by Dominic Cummings' announced departure and was now hindering Brexit trade talks.

Manfred Weber, the leader of the largest party in the European parliament, said Downing Street was currently in a"chaotic situation" following the announcement.

The prime minister's adviser acknowledged on Thursday evening after days of speculation that he would leave No 10 by Christmas.

Weber, who leads the German Christian Social Union -  a party with close links to Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union - told BBC Radio 4's Today programme there was an evident lack of direction emanating from Downing Street.

He said: "I see what is happening now in Downing Street. We can also see this as a quite chaotic situation where we don’t have an idea what is really the line in Great Britain. So don’t tell us we should be ready for compromise.

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"We need a clear idea from Boris Johnson now and I think it’s now time for leadership – having all the developments in America in mind where London understood it will be not so easy with Joe Biden [as US president-elect] to achieve an easy trade deal now.

“It’s time to take over responsibility and come to a common understanding. Britain has red lines, we have red lines, let’s now come to a compromise."

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This comes as the latest round of Brexit talks ended in deadlock this week with both sides still in loggerheads over UK fishing rights and the level playing field provisions.

MORE: 'Oh this is too good': Public react to Michel Barnier's tweet trolling Brexit talks

It also follows concerns raised by EU diplomats that Boris Johnson was being "held captive" by former Vote Leave campaign members.

One senior EU source told the Guardian that Cummings' departure could mean a slackening of resistance towards a future domestic subsidy regime with the EU.

"His flawed concept of state aid has held the negotiation hostage," the diplomat said. Cummings has championed the UK’s future ability to subsidise the tech industry as a major Brexit dividend.

MORE: German MEP tells Boris Johnson he 'owes' Britons a Brexit deal as she urged a return to EU trade talks

UK government officials have dismissed Weber's assessment and said its chief negotiator, Lord David Frost, remained "focused" on clinching a trade deal with the EU.

One official added: "I guess the reason the EU feel the need to say these sorts of things is that they are starting to realise that we meant it when we said there were fundamental principles from which we couldn’t move. We need to see some realism and creativity from their side if we are to bridge the significant gaps that remain."

EU-UK trade talks will continue in Brussels from this coming Monday where it is hoped significant progress can be made ahead of an EU summit next Thursday.

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