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Thu, 3 December 2020

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Theresa May's former chief of staff condemns Number 10 over EU attack

Theresa May's former chief of staff condemns Number 10 over EU attack
2 min read

Theresa May's former chief of staff has criticised Number 10 after it accused the EU of reneging on its offer of a Canada-style trade deal with the UK after Brexit.


Gavin Barwell hit out after the official Downing Street Twitter account appeared to mock Michel Barnier, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator.

Mr Barnier has insisted that the UK cannot have a deal like the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), which has been in place since 2017.

That's despite Boris Johnson saying that is what the UK is aiming for - and the European Commission appearing to previously confirm that such a deal was on the table.

In its tweet, the @Number10Press account said: "In 2017 the EU showed on their own slide that a Canada type FTA was the only available relationship for the UK. Now they say it’s not on offer after all. @MichelBarnier what’s changed?"

But in response, Lord Barwell tweeted: "Nothing has changed. The EU has always said an FTA with the UK would need greater level playing field provisions than CETA because of the UK's geographic proximity and the interdependence of the two economies. See para 77 of the Political Declaration this Government agreed."

His comments came as another EU official insisted that the UK will not be able to strike a Canada-style deal with Brussels.

Stefaan De Rynck, an adviser to EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, warned the Government that the upcoming trade talks would be "a different ball game".

Speaking at the London School of Economics on Wednesday, he said: "Some in the UK now seem to want to become Canadians. But Dover is much closer to Calais than Ottawa is.

"Proximity matters, distance matters in trade. What also matters is the interconnectedness between our economies.

"So, in terms of zero tariff, zero quota access, this brings a lot of benefits to the UK economy and with benefits come obligations."

Earlier this week, David Frost, the UK's top Brexit negotiator, insisted the Government would not sign up to so-called "level playing field" provisions as the price of a trade deal with the EU.

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