THE EU has been warned that if it continues to drag its feet over the Brexit talks then the UK will walk away in September without a trade or security deal.
The Sunday Express understands that Boris Johnson has authorised an ultimatum to Brussels and its chief negotiator Michel Barnier because of the refusal by the EU to come to the table with reasonable demands.
The warning comes ahead of the fourth round of negotiations running from Tuesday until Friday next week, with talks across all eleven workstreams held via videoconference.
This follows a letter from David Frost, the UKs chief negotiator, to Mr Barnier restating the British position that a future relationship deal must respect British redlines on controlling access to its own fishing waters, not being bound by EU laws and regulations or subject to the European Court of Justice.
But despite putting forward reasonable suggestions Britain has been answered with ideological demands from the EU which do not respect British sovereignty.
As a result a senior source from the Brexit division of the Cabinet Office has revealed that while talks will continue, EU foot dragging risks collapsing hopes of a trade deal.
The latest intervention come because the UK wants to inject momentum into EU trade talks.
There are concerns that EU leaders think they don’t need to pay attention until the autumn, but that could be too late.
According to the source, to date, it has been the UK who has been trying to move things forward across the board.
This was evident in the previous round of negotiations, where the EU would not engage in the proposals the UK had tabled, and continued to insist on its own unnegotiable positions.
But the UK believes the conditions could finally now be right to up the pace in July, after the high level meeting – likely to take place via videoconference – between the Prime Minister and European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen.
It is understood that Mr Frost’s letter to Mr Barnier sounded the alarm bell for some EU members and made them realise just how risky it could be for the EU to continue marking time.
A UK source close to the negotiations said: “We expect next week’s round to be constructive and keep the process on track. But then we are going to need things to move forward faster. We recognise the EU have other important issues on their plate too, as we all do, but they can’t just mark time on these talks.
“The EU seems to have finally understood we aren’t going to move on fundamentals, so they now need to think quickly about how they can find an agreement that reflects this reality.”
But the source added that “talks cannot go on forever.”
The source said: “The UK has to make sure businesses can prepare properly for what will happen at the end of the year. Traders can’t do that if the talks are continuing well into the autumn because they won’t know what to prepare for.
“What is clear is that the conventional approach will not get us much further. The EU needs to inject some political reality into its approach, and appreciate that they cannot use their usual tactic of delay to drag the talks into the autumn.
“October is too late. Our businesses need to know whether there is going to be a trade agreement before then to prepare for the end of transition.”
Brexiteers have welcomed the tough line taken by the government which confirms again that there will be no extension to the transition period despite demands from Brussels and their Remainer allies in the UK.
Former Brexit Party MEP Matthew Patten, a director of the Centre for Brexit Policy thinktank, said: “The EU needs to wake up and smell the political coffee, its dealing with a sovereign state now.
“All 5 UK elections in the past 5 years have supported Brexit, the last Conservative manifesto promised we will not extend the implementation period beyond December 2020, Parliament has passed a law against any extension.
“Centre for Brexit Policy polling shows the British public oppose extension of the Transition Period by 44 percent to 40 percent, with 61 percent of Tory voters wanting to leave on time or even earlier.
“Our research agrees with the government that extending the Transition Period would prevent us from taking the radical steps needed to rebuild the post-Covid economy because the UK would continue to be bound by EU rules and unable to influence them. And that the cost of a 2-year extension would be £380 billion to the British economy.”