The UK must remain tied to the European Union’s (EU) Customs Union and many rules of the bloc or be hit with “unavoidable barriers to trade”, Brussels’ chief Brexit negotiator has told Theresa May.
The comments show the hardline position of Michel Barnier and the EU negotiators he leads remains open to little compromise, with the UK either forced to accept controls on its trade policy or break free of all EU institutions.
“Without the Customs Union, outside the Single Market, barriers to trade and goods and services are unavoidable,” he said on Monday following meetings with Brexit secretary David Davis and Mrs. May in London.
The unelected Brussels bureaucrat also claimed that “frictionless” trade with the EU for non-members is impossible and said the financial passporting system would be unavailable to the UK if it left the Single Market.
“It’s time to make a choice,” he added, before meeting with Labour’s shadow Brexit secretary who has been fighting to frustrate and even block Brexit.
Visiting European Banking Authority @EBA_News today.
— Michel Barnier (@MichelBarnier) February 5, 2018
The threat comes as a leaked Whitehall analysis showed that the UK could be forced to accept almost 40 EU directives if the agreed Brexit ‘transition period’ is implemented.
Good to have further discussions about the Brexit negotiations with chief EU negotiator, Michel Barnier, in London today. pic.twitter.com/LPatExeh0V
— Keir Starmer (@Keir_Starmer) February 5, 2018
Collusion. Barnier and Labour want to keep the UK in the customs union. https://t.co/bCgFCa17lb
— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) February 6, 2018
“The conditions are very clear, everyone has to play by the same rules during this transition,” Mr. Barnier said on the transition period.
“The certainty about this transition will only come with the ratification of the withdrawal agreement,” he added. “Our future partnership between the UK and EU, on that point we need also clarity about the UK proposals for future partnership.”
The government report, obtained by The Telegraph, says 37 directives from the unelected European Commission could be imposed on the UK in the two-year period and Britain would be powerless to stop them.
One of the most heavily criticised directives could force every UK household to have four different bins in an attempt to hit “unfeasible” new EU recycling targets.
Downing Street Claims Britain Will Not Stay in Customs Union With EU Following Coup Rumours https://t.co/BLacNWKNFt
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) February 5, 2018
Jacob Rees-Mogg MP, the leader of the influential European Research group, told the paper:
“This European Union laws that could come in after we have left may look to the Government as ‘a cloud no bigger than a man’s hand’ but could turn into a torrent similar to the one unleashed by Elijah.
“It could drown the City of London, soak consumers and flood farmers. The range and extent of these laws covers almost everyone in the country one way or another and we would have no say at all over some laws that we could now veto.
“The chance for a vengeful EU to cause regulatory damage to us may be too great for them to resist and the Government needs to be strong in refusing to accept new laws once we have left.”