Today, Prime Minister Boris Johnson will bring urgency to Brexit talks by warning that the two sides are heading for no deal if progress is not swiftly made in the next round of negotiations. According to a report by The Daily Mail, the Prime Minister will use a video conference with the EU’s most senior figures to urge “renewed energy and commitment” to reach an agreement by the end of the summer. He will also accuse Brussels of using the coronavirus pandemic as an excuse for delays.
The meeting comes after Michael Gove formally ruled out on Friday any extension of the Brexit transition period beyond December 31, but agreed to a six-month delay to full border checks including customs declarations and tariff payments.
As the clock ticks down and tensions rise, unearthed reports shed light on a plan devised by Brussels in 2011 that “would have wiped the UK off the map”.
In 2011, senior Tories revealed the details of a EU plan to “carve up Britain” by setting up a cross-Channel region.
If approved, the project would have seen southern England and northern France merged into a territory called “Arch Manche” complete with its own flag.
Former Conservative Party Chairman Eric Pickles inherited the details of the plan by his Whitehall department from the previous Labour government.
The former Communities Secretary said: “Labour ministers have been caught red-handed conspiring with European bureaucrats to wipe England off the map and replace our historic boroughs, counties and cities with transnational euro-regions.
“Massive amounts of taxpayers’ money are being wasted on vanity projects.
“I intend to fight these plans, stop this waste and protect England’s national and local identities from EU empire building.”
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Arc Manche was formally launched in 2005 to forge closer links between local councils in southern English counties with their counterparts in northern France.
It was one of 12 cross-border regions set up under the EU’s “Interreg” initiative – criticised as an attempt to erode national identities.
The name “Manche” – meaning sleeve – was taken from the French name for the English Channel.
According to official figures, EU chiefs quietly poured around £1billion a year of taxpayers’ money into the regions and in 2011, they wanted to significantly raise the profile of Arc Manche at a cost of thousands of pounds.
EU officials had already commissioned a new “transnational emblem” to be rolled out across southern England, described by its designers as a “series of concentric circles symbolising the flow of projects and stakeholders” and “representing of so many bridges between territories”.
One Whitehall aide rubbished the emblem as “a bid to subvert the St George’s flag and the Union Jack”.
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Among the projects designed to promote the Arc Manche there were a series of cycle routes seeking to link northern France and southern England.
Maps of the proposed routes showed cycle lanes stopping at the Channel and re-starting at the French side.
Details emerged just days after Eurocrats pleaded for more taxpayers’ cash for Brussels coffers.
Former Ukip leader Nigel Farage said about the project: “The Arc Manche is the perfect euro project.
“Nobody wants it, nobody called for it and nobody knows what it’s for.
“Its proudest boast is a logo that wouldn’t have won a Blue Peter badge, and cross-Channel cycle routes.”