The 27 European Union nations presented a firmly united front to the UK on Friday after the British government said it plans to violate part of their Brexit divorce agreement, warning London that there was little chance of a new trade deal unless the UK reverses course.
The European Parliament’s lead lawmaker on Brexit said that even if a free trade agreement is struck, the EU legislature will refuse to ratify it unless Britain drops a proposal to override parts of the legally binding withdrawal agreement.
“Should the UK breach the withdrawal agreement, the European Parliament won’t ratify a future agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom,” said David McAllister, a German politician who heads the European Parliament’s UK-EU coordination group.
McAllister said the British bill was “a serious and unacceptable breach of international law.”
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plan to alter provisions in the EU divorce deal has put already bogged-down talks on a future trade deal into an even deeper rut.
“We are remaining firm, we are remaining calm,” McAllister told The Associated Press after a meeting of the European Parliament’s UK committee. “But it’s not easy to negotiate our future relations under these threatening circumstances.”
EU leaders have expressed anger and bafflement at the UK’s announcement that it will breach an international treaty with a bill that would diminish the EU’s oversight of trade between mainland Britain and Northern Ireland.
Leaders of the bloc vowed to stand together as time runs short to find a smooth economic transition before Britain leaves the EU's economic structures on December 31.
A no-deal Brexit on January 1 would hit some EU nations, including Ireland, France, Belgium and the Netherlands especially hard. But none were ready to make concessions to UK demands, which the EU views as seeking free access to the EU market while refusing to guarantee fair competition.
“We will never accept any kind of decision that might weaken or jeopardize the European single market, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said.
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