David Jones, who served as Minister of State the Department for Exiting the European Union between 2016 and 2017, was speaking after Mr Johnson confirmed if no agreement had been struck by the middle of next month, the UK would walk away from the negotiating table. The process of Brexit has been punctuated by deadlines, including several which proved to be nothing of the sort – March 31, for example.
However, Mr Jones, MP for Clywd West as well as the deputy chairman of the European Research Group (ERG), said he had little doubt this one was real.
He told Express.co.uk: “I actually do think that that is a hardline because we can’t really go beyond that.
“When you look at all the steps that would have to be taken, you’d have to get the European Council to ratify it and everything else.
“I think that is a hard deadline and I think it is a good job that the Prime Minister has done that because there may well have been some sort of thought that perhaps he was maybe bluffing when he said that he did not want an extension.
“But he is basically doubling down on that now.
“I am pretty sure that this is the endgame to get back to what the Government is proposing which is essentially getting our ducks in a row for when we leave one way or another.”
READ MORE: Feeling nervous, Leo? Varadkar and Martin TERRIFIED by no deal
“I think that that caused some anxiety in Brussels.
“But added to that you have got the very dogged negotiations that David Frost has been continuing, where he has not been swayed in any sense by anything that the EU has said.
“Plus you have now got the Prime Minister coming out and saying we can’t hang about forever so if we don’t get something by next month we will go our own way.”
What happened next largely depended on the EU’s response, Mr Jones said.
He explained: “It all depends on how the EU responds.
“What is quite interesting is that it looks as though Barnier is going to marginalised and that EU member states and von der Leyen are going to arrange for direct negotiations, with member states representatives coming in to replace Barnier.
“Frankly Barnier has showed himself to be very intransigent and obviously he is acting under instructions from the Commission.
“But when you arrive the situation we did last week, when he was making bizarre statements such as he recognised the waters around Britain were British waters, but they were European fish, I don’t thing anyone knew where he was coming from.
“Hopefully this had the effect of helping concentrate their minds a bit more.
“I would very much hope that Boris’s statement today will cause them to focus on the negotiations a bit more realistically than they have.”