EU PANIC: Boris Johnson immediately ditches Theresa May’s negotiating stance with EU

Meanwhile UK-based political analyst Professor Tony Travers has suggested Boris Johnson will now be very keen to turn into a mechanical exercise focusing on the details as opposed to the emotive aspects hitherto associated with the process. The claims follow a speech by European Commission President at the London School of Economics yesterday, in which she warned it was impossible for every single aspect” of the EU’s future partnership with the UK to be finalised by December 31, the date on which the transition period will come to an end. After delivering her speech, Ms von der Leyen travelled the short distance to Downing Street for talks with .

In a briefing held separately while the pair discussed the way forward, a Government spokesman told Politico: “We are very clear we want to get on in terms of negotiating a deal and so maybe the approach of nothing is agreed until everything is agreed which characterised previous negotiations is not an approach that we are interested in taking.”

“Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed” became a virtual mantra for Mrs May, and commentators have suggested her slavish devotion to the concept which significantly undermined her Premiership and with it her hopes of delivering Brexit.

The ultimate goal is a wide-ranging, all-encompassing trade deal - but the tight time frame means a more piecemeal approach may be necessary to prevent multiple tariffs and trade barriers kicking in from the start of next year.

The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier made the point during an impromptu intervention in the midst of a question and answer session with Mrs von der Leyen after her speech yesterday, when she was asked: “When will the UK have the green light to do third-party negotiations?”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson

Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Downing Street yesterday (Image: GETTY)

Theresa May

Former Theresa May's approach has been criticised as too rigid (Image: GETTY)

He said: “I just want to repeat that leaving the EU, the single market and the customs union means for the UK to leave at the same time mechanically, automatically, 600 international agreements.”

Therefore, all such trade agreements would need to be renegotiated by the UK, something Mr Barnier described as a “very important task”.

He warned: “None of these agreements can be implemented before the UK leaves.

“They are allowed to negotiated but they cannot be implemented.”

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Ursula von der Leyen

Ursula von der Leyen speaks at the LSE yesterday (Image: GETTY)

Ms von der Leyen herself said: “The more divergence there is, the more distant the partnership has to be.

“And without an extension of the transition period beyond 2020, you cannot expect to agree on every single aspect of our new partnership.

“It is not an all or nothing thing, but it is a question of priorities.”


Michel Barnier

Michel Barnier arrives at Number 10 (Image: GETTY)

Michel Barnier

Michel Barnier listens to Ursula von der Leyen's speech (Image: GETTY)

One EU diplomat later told Politico: “Of course, these potential sectorial agreements would not be completely independent from each other.

“There are areas where the EU has more leverage, like market access, and others like fisheries where the UK has more leverage, so that wouldn’t mean that they pull us over the barrel on fish and we do the same with them on trade.”

Speaking after her speech, Professor Travers, director of LSE London, told “I think she made it clear that it would be impossible to get everything sorted out by December 31 this year.

Hard Brexit

How a hard Brexit would impact the EU27 (Image: Daily Express)

“But that therefore we would to prioritise the things where if there is not a deal the biggest and worst consequences would happen.

“So it is possible with no deal for some kind of continuity or to fall back on other agreements, for example the World Trade Organisation, that would mean there was not such a massive change in those sectors.

“She said the problem would be to prioritise the sectors where agreements need to be made where things would go most wrong if there is not an agreement by December 31.

Boris Johnson Ursula von der Leyen

Boris Johnson and Ursula von der Leyen outside Number 10 (Image: GETTY)

“Buried within that is there cannot be a full deal by that point.”

Prof Travers added: “I think what the Government wants to do is say on January 31 Brexit is done, ie the UK has left the EU, and treat that as Brexit being done, push it all out of the news, make it look mechanistic with negotiations in rooms in distant places, it’s all being handled, it’s all being dealt with, and move and hope that the word Brexit isn’t used that much from that point.

“It will be, but he wants to minimise discussion of it.”

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