Brexit trade talks have been at a standstill for months but Boris Johnson and the top representatives of the European Union agreed to renew the “momentum” in a bid to reach an agreement. Following a meeting with senior EU echelons on Monday, the Prime Minister went as far as suggesting a deal could be struck in July. But Belgian MEP Philippe Lambers voiced his doubt about the UK and the EU finding common ground, as he suggested moderate British voices will have no place in the talks.
Speaking to the press in Brussels, Mr Lamberts said: “I still think there are people within the Tory Party who want a deal, a closer relationship with the European Union and that means a soft Brexit.
“But let’s face it, these people are not in positions to set the Government line, others are.
“A few weeks ago, the Prime Minister had a perfect occasion to fire Dominic Cummings, he chose not to and that tells you who is calling the shots in the Tory Party.”
Mr Lamberts, who is a member of the Brexit steering group within the European Parliament, also urged both sides to prepare for an incoming no deal at the end of the year.
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He continued: “I think now all energy should be mostly directed at preparing for the scenario that I believe will become the real one.
“That is a no deal Brexit at the end of the year.”
Claims from EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier signalling earlier this month “no progress” had been made in talks spurred UK businesses and banks to resume no deal planning.
Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey urged banks across Britain to ensure they have adequate plans in place to avoid disruption in the event no agreement is struck.
The new Irish executive announced this week plans for a no deal Brexit have been included in its programme.
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In a comment piece for the Daily Express, Michael Gove said: “Both sides have also agreed to make the negotiations a priority, with a more intensive schedule in July; the aim being to “find an agreement before the end of the year”, according to President von der Leyen.
“She said the EU would be available 24/7. We will be, too.
“Because the faster we can try to unlock the most difficult areas, the better – in July, ideally, rather than the autumn or winter.
“Businesses and citizens need certainty, and that is our goal.”
Mr Gove added: “While the UK is ready to be flexible about how we secure a Free Trade Agreement which works for both sides, the new relationship we seek with the EU must recognise our regained sovereignty, independence and autonomy.”