PM told to declare no deal if Brussels refuses green light

Theresa May has been told to walk away from Brexit negotiations and unilaterally declare a no deal if Brussels blocks trade talks this week.

An open letter signed by Wetherspoons boss Tim Martin, JML chairman John Mills and former British Chambers of Commerce boss John Longworth has called on the Prime Minister to commit to a WTO framework from March 2019 if there is no movement on talks tomorrow.

The letter, which has been published by the Leave means Leave campaign, said the current situation was causing “a highly level of uncertainty for business”.

Breaking off talks and accepting a no deal would “provide businesses with absolute certainty about the future and enable immediate steps to be taken to implement our independent free trade policy,” the letter, which was also signed by a clutch of pro-Brexit MPs, said.

“If early next year the EU decides to come back and discuss free trade, this will be a bonus – but it should not be treated as an essential,” the letter continued.

The letter was published as the Prime Minister travels to Brussels in the hopes of securing a deal enabling talks to progress, although the European officials have repeatedly indicated that “sufficient progress” – the barometer for determining whether the second phase of talks can begin – has not been made.

Yesterday European Council President Donald Tusk reiterated this point, but said he would instead recommend that EU27 members begin “internal preparations” for trade talks.

Germay appears to be one step ahead, however.

Bloomberg reports that the Foreign Ministry in Berlin has drafted a four-page document, the most detailed German position yet, for “future formal negotiations” about the UK’s relationship with Europe.

The document proposes a broad partnership that includes “at a minimum” the fields of foreign and security policy; fighting terrorism; cooperation on criminal justice; agriculture and fisheries; energy; transport, and especially air transport; research and digital issues.

October 19th, 2017: City AM