Sunday, December 5

EU unlikely to decide on extension before Tuesday


 

 

Deliberations in Brussels over a Brexit delay have continued into the weekend, as a leaked document indicates the UK could deviate away from EU employee and environmental rights after exit day.

After a meeting of European Union ambassadors on Friday, a Brussels source said there was full agreement on the need for an extension and that work will continue over the weekend.

A final decision on whether they will opt for an extension until January or a shorter November delay thought to be favoured by French President Emmanuel Macron is not expected until Monday or Tuesday.

The weekend talks among the EU27’s teams are likely to be coloured by a leaked document, seen by the Financial Times, that indicates the Government could look to diverge away from the bloc’s rules on workers rights and environmental protections after Brexit.

There are fears in some quarters of the EU and especially in Berlin that Boris Johnson is preparing to reform Britain into Singapore-on-Thames, a low-tax, lightly regulated economy on the edge of Europe, once it has left.

According to the FT’s report, the leaked Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU) document said the way the political declaration the agreement setting out the aims of the future trade negotiations between the UK and the EU had drafted the workers’ rights and environmental protection commitments left room for interpretation.

Mr Johnson this week told MPs the UK was committed to the highest possible standards on both sets of standards a stance that helped to convince 19 Labour MPs to back his Withdrawal Agreement Bill at second reading on Tuesday.

The document is said to boast that UK negotiators successfully resisted the inclusion of all UK-wide level playing-field rules in the previous deal negotiated by Theresa May’s team, allowing Britain to compete against EU members by possibly watering down rights.

Labour shadow Brexit minister Jenny Chapman said the documents, which reportedly had Downing Street input, confirm our worst fears.

She said: Boris Johnson’s Brexit is a blueprint for a deregulated economy, which will see vital rights and protections torn up.

The Prime Minister visited a hospital on Friday and used interviews afterwards to call on opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn to man up and agree to a general election.

It follows the Conservative Party leader announcing on Thursday that he was prepared to give MPs more time to debate his Brexit deal in exchange for their support for a winter election on December 12.

Brexit Party chairman Richard Tice has offered a Leave alliance to Mr Johnson at the poll as long as he ditches his Withdrawal Agreement and campaigns to take Britain out without a deal.