The European Union (EU) has delayed publishing a fresh version of its Brexit plan, in anticipation of the Prime Minister making more concessions and bowing to more of their demands.
The bloc’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier was planning on publishing an “annotated” draft declaration on Wednesday, laying out their demands for a future trade deal.
However, the paper was expected to re-energise calls for Theresa May to abandon her Chequers plan for a soft Brexit, The Times reports.
Reports in recent days have suggested the bloc now wants Mrs May to get her deal approved in parliament, instead of allowing a “no deal” Brexit or a more basic Canada-style trade deal which Brexiteers favour.
Mr Barnier, therefore, has delayed the paper and now aims to publish a “sort of joint text” highlighting areas of mutual agreement and disagreement and potentially paving the way for Mrs May’s preferred “grand bargain”.
The EU is thought to be taking into account new concessions from Mrs May, The Times claims.
“[Mr Barnier] sees movement on the British side and wants a text that reflects those talks,” a diplomatic source said.
EU sources said Mr Barnier wants, in the days ahead of this week’s critical meeting of European leaders, to go “into the tunnel” of talks with Oliver Robbins, a civil servant and Mrs May’s lead negotiator who has pushed a soft Brexit.
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Last week, sources claimed the bloc wants to help Mrs May get a Brexit deal through parliament if she abandons her “red lines” and makes more concessions.
Negotiators are also reportedly considering a new so-called ‘evolution clause’ that will insist the EU remain open to change should a British government wish to make further alterations or concessions during the 21-month transition.
The news comes as Mrs May’s government reportedly prepares for a new stage of ‘project fear’, whereby they will publicly argue whatever deal the Prime Minister secures is better than an allegedly disastrous ‘no deal’ exit from the bloc.
Priti Patel, a Brexiteer former cabinet minister, blasted: “This is taking project fear to the level of project con. The government is continuing to bludgeon the British people in an attempt to frighten them into not wanting to leave the EU using misinformation.
“They want to con them into a compromise deal which is full of concessions, even though the British people had the confidence to vote for a better future outside the European Union.”
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