In an expected turn of events information from the Brussels negotiating team has been leaked stating the the EU has rejected Theresa Mays plans for free trade in goods between the EU and the UK after Brexit. What is more astounding is that allegations have also surfaced that the UK intelligence services have apparently been caught placing listening devices to spy on EU officials for the purposes of finding out their negotiating position.
The latest extraordinary twist in the Brexit wrangle emerged yesterday as UK and EU negotiators resumed their talks in Brussels on Wednesday.
Officials from both sides will reopen their attempt to resolve the dispute over the future of the Irish border and her due to discuss details of the future trade relationship between the EU and UK today.
But Eurosceptic Tories said the EU’s firm opposition to Mrs May’s customs proposal, revealed by the Brussels leak, showed the Brexit plan agreed by Cabinet ministers at Chequers last month is now well and truly dead.
Brexiteer MP’s are know rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of a hard brexit or more likely a no-deal brexit.
Tory MP Andrew Bridgen, a member of the European Research Group of Eurosceptic Conservatives was quoted by the Express as saying
“This is a rare occasion where I agree with Brussels – Chequers would be a bad deal.
“We have got to dump it, and get on with agreeing a Canada-style trade deal.
“Whatever happens now, we have to accept that this is not an amicable divorce.
“We need a clean break from the EU and cannot go back on our decision to leave.”
The leaked information about the Brussels negotiating position came from a slide presentation prepared by the EU’s negotiators.
Although the slides were prepared before the Chequers proposals were agreed, they set out in detail why the EU would refuse to accept any arrangement leading to UK goods and services being treated differently in trade with the bloc after Brexit.
At the heart of Mrs May’s plan is a proposal for goods to be regulated by a “common rulebook” but for UK regulation for services to “diverge” from Brussels rules.
In the slides, EU negotiators argue that allowing the split between treatment of goods and services would allow Britain to gain a competitive advantage that could undermine the EU single market.
Further slides went into detail about how different economic sectors including chemical and cars mixed both goods and services production.
The Commission warned that allowing the separation of goods and services in customs arrangements would lead to a “level of erosion in the single market”.
EU officials have also raised security concerns after the UK negotiating team obtained material revealing the contents “within hours” of them being discussed by Commission insiders according to a report on Wednesday.
Sabine Weyand, the EU’s deputy chief Brexit negotiator, reportedly told officials at a European Council working party on exit talks that that British intelligence agents had penetrated their meetings.
The contents of the slides were shared between EU officials on July 5, the day before Prime Minister Theresa May gathered the Cabinet at Chequers to sign off her Brexit blueprint.
Hours after the presentation, the UK lobbied at the “highest level” to block plans to publish the slides, sources in Brussels claimed.
A European Commission spokesman said today: “The commission’s position today is that we cannot comment on this press report.”
A spokesman at the Department for Exiting the EU declined to discuss the bugging allegations or the leak.