Andrew Marr challenged Ms de Montchalin after the French minister earlier this week warned the European Union will not be “blackmailed” into agreeing to a Brexit trade deal with the UK by December 2020 if extra time is needed. Boris Johnson pledged to strike a new trade agreement with the EU by the end of the transition period later this year, insisting he is ready to walk away to avoid postponing Britain’s full departure from the bloc yet again. But the BBC host pointed out Brussels also signed up to the December deadline as part of the political declaration agreed with Britain last year.
Mr Marr said: “The trouble with that, respectfully, is that the EU, like the UK, signed up to that date in international law.
“That’s the date both sides agreed. And Britain certainly said that it is a hard deadline.”
Ms de Montchlin insisted the deadline for negotiations can be “extended in international law,” which prompted Mr Marr to hit back: “But you don’t expect Boris Johnson to extend.
“Boris Johnson is talking about Boris Johnson walking away from the negotiations if there isn’t substantive progress by June.”
The French minister insisted the European Union’s negotiating team remains committed to delivering a good deal for EU citizens and remains ready to postpone the end of the transition deal to ensure a beneficial agreement is in place at its end.
Ms de Montchalin said: “What I know, and I go back to my passion and reason, I think it will be very difficult for people to understand we did not protect them as much as we could’ve done just because we wanted to stick to a date while we had the opportunity to delay the negotiations for six months more, 12 months more.
“I’m not telling you this is what we want. I’m telling you that, in the end, what matters is the content, the substance of the deal.
“And we won’t sign the deal just because we need to sign something.”
Published at Sun, 01 Mar 2020 09:56:00 +0000