The European Union and the UK have been engaged in five rounds of tense negotiations in a bid to secure a free trade agreement before the end of the Brexit transition period in December. Both sides have agreed to ramp-up talks during the summer to have a draft deal agreed by October but the latest meeting appeared to expose continued divergence between the EU and the UK. Brexiteer MP John Redwood warned Brussels the UK insisted the UK would ultimately be “better off” without a formal agreement as he insisted London will “not surrender” to the bloc’s demands.
Speaking at a meeting of the Conservative Bruges Group, Mr Redwood said: “I am delighted the Government has made clear to the European Union we are finally going to shake off the coil of EU regulations and courts at the end of the year, with or without a free trade deal.
“The only way you’re likely to get a free trade deal off them is not to give any ground at all.
“As soon as you start to give ground, the EU will dig in as they’ve done over the past four years and just expect us to make more and more surrenders.
“We don’t surrender our money, we don’t surrender our borders, we don’t surrender our laws, we don’t put ourselves back under the jurisdiction of their court after we’ve properly left and we don’t give away our fish.”
The Conservative MP continued: “Our offer of a free trade deal is a generous and sensible one, it’s in their interests to take it up but if they’re playing politics rather than thinking about economics, they may choose not to.
“Immediately, we should make our own dispositions and I think we can be better off not worse off.”
The warning comes as European sources suggested the UK and the EU are now having discussions on a potential “landing zone” to base their future trade relationship on.
Insiders have suggested negotiators are focussing on a barebones free-trade agreement that would eliminate tariffs and quotas and that would allow the UK and the EU to seal a deal in the short time available before the end of the transition.