France has “fought for 40 years” against Britain striking a deal that would hand them frictionless trade with the EU without the laws. According to Tory MP Neil O’Brien, who voted Leave in the referendum, the contentious backstop agreement is Emmanuel Macron’s “worst nightmare”. Despite what hardline Brexiteers claim, Mr O’Brien claims that the backstop could actually hand Britain a huge economic boost while tearing at the fabric of the EU.
Speaking on BBC’s Week In Westminister, Mr O’Brien said he would have taken this deal if the EU offered Britain this before the referendum.
He explained: “The backstop is France’s worst nightmare.
“If we ended up in it, which I don’t think we will, we would have complete tariff-free access to the EU but not have to obey any new laws.
“That is what the French has been working for 40 years to try and avoid.”
This comes as Mr Macron has desperately sought to shut down Theresa May’s hopes of securing meaningful changes to the agreement.
The centrist French leader was previously heavily criticised by British Brexiteers after he appeared to signal that France would threaten Britain into giving up fishing water access.
Theresa May has privately warned Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel that the Brexit deal is dead unless they compromise, according to Bloomberg.
European leaders humiliated the prime minister earlier this week when they rebuffed her requests for more concessions.
Mrs May is concerned that if that deal can’t be rescued, then the UK will crash out of the bloc without a deal.
The backstop is the main stumbling block in the negogiations, with the agreement intended to prevent a hard border in Ireland.
Mrs May originally postponed a vote on her deal scheduled for earlier this week – but without any EU compromises, the deal is still expected to be defeated in the Commons.
There is a growing split within the cabinet between those pushing for a second referendum and those who are leaning towards a managed no deal exit.
Five ministers, including Chancellor Philip Hammond and Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd, are “leaning reluctantly” towards supporting a second referendum.
Another group, including Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Liz Truss, the chief secretary to the Treasury, and Leader of the Commons Andrea Leadsom, is are willing to leave without a deal.
Published at Sat, 15 Dec 2018 12:58:00 +0000