Michel Barnier has been warned that the UK Government is prepared to leave the EU with no deal if “compromises” are not made. Penny Mordaunt, the Paymaster General and Cabinet Office Minister, updated the House of Commons on the status of Brexit negotiations. With less than a month to go, time is running out to secure an agreement before the transition period deadline.
She said: “We are at a critical moment in the negotiations. Teams are negotiating as we speak and the Prime Minister will call the commission president later this afternoon to discuss progress again.
“Michael Gove is also in Brussels today meeting the European Commission Vice President in their capacity as co-chairs of the UK-EU Joint Committee under the withdrawal agreement.
“We are all working to get a deal, but the only deal that is possible is one that is compatible with our sovereignty and takes back control of our laws, trade and waters.
“While an agreement is preferable, we are prepared to leave on so-called Australian-style terms if we can’t find compromises.”
The level playing field remains the “most difficult” issue preventing the UK and the EU from reaching a trade deal, Ms Mordaunt said.
Answering an urgent question on the negotiations, the Paymaster General told the Commons: “Intensive talks continue.
“In fact, the United Kingdom’s negotiating team led by Lord Frost has been in talks with the EU almost every day since October 22 and is working tirelessly to get a deal on our future relationship.
“Indeed, this opportunity also affords us in this place to show our collective resolve in getting a good deal and our expectations of what that needs to look like and what we will not accept.”
She stressed that the objective was to reach an agreement.
Ms Mordaunt told the Commons: “He will have no argument from me to say that no deal is going to be better than getting a deal.
“But everyone is working to get a deal, that is our objective.
“I’d just say to that delaying a decision, extending the negotiations, the facts are not going to change, we have all the information, the positions are as they are, it is only by continuing those negotiations and us continuing to put the pressure on for those negotiations to be concluded that we will, I hope, arrive at a deal.”
Mr Benn, chairman of the Committee on the Future Relationship with the European Union, had asked Ms Mordaunt to explain why “in the middle of the worst economic crisis for 300 years” Prime Minister Boris Johnson appears to believe a no deal scenario would be a good outcome.