Prospects for a Brexit deal were dealt a severe blow on Friday after the European Union’s chief negotiator took apart Theresa May’s latest proposals. Speaking in Brussels after a meeting with EU national ministers, chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier raised a wide variety of serious concerns about the Chequers white paper plan for customs control and single market regulation. Barnier said he had told member states to prepare for a no-deal scenario, also raised concerns about the PM’s plan to keep the UK following a “common rulebook” of single market regulations for goods.
May had hoped her white paper proposals would allow frictionless trade with the EU, but Mr Barnier said a plan to exclude UK services from following EU rules could give a “significant competitive advantage” to Britain and that agreeing to such a policy might not be in the EU’s own best interests.
Barnier was careful not to reject the plan outright, phrasing his criticism as questions to the UK negotiators. He said the plan was positive in many ways, including the UK signing up to EU “level playing field” competition rules, the creation of a free trade agreement, and on security cooperation.