LONDON - The EU's chief Brexit negotiator has cast firm doubt over Theresa May's plan for post-Brexit customs arrangements, suggesting they could be illegal under EU law and warning that they could create "a major risk of fraud". Mr. Johnson had remained silent until Wednesday when he delivered a scathing assessment of the plan in the House of Commons and urged MPs to reject it.
In this context of uncertainties, concern about a Brexit without agreement does not stop increasing. May of dithering and backtracking. "We know the clock is ticking - let's get on with it".
The ex-foreign minister said he was unable to support the Chequers plan and is happy to be speaking out against it.
May has put forward a Brexit plan, the so-called white paper negotiated with her cabinet at Chequers two weeks ago, that would foresee a free trade deal on goods with the European Union, but failed to address the Irish border issue directly.
It is not known how many he has so far received, with Mr Davies becoming the third to go public, after Andrew Bridgen and Andrea Jenkyns. May with several recent opinion polls showing up to 71 per cent of voters disapprove of how she is handling Brexit. The EU negotiator will report back on this issue at the next meeting of the General Affairs Council (Article 50) in September 2018. 'Therefore, preparing for the United Kingdom becoming a third country is of paramount importance, even in the case of a deal between the European Union and the United Kingdom'.
The UK's White Paper published last week is aimed at ensuring trade co-operation, with no hard border for Northern Ireland, and global trade deals for the UK.
Among 1,350 Tory activists who responded to a survey, 68% said that they thought the Chequers plan would be bad for the country.
"We will have absolute freedom to change our quotas and our tariffs, including on manufactured goods, under the agreement in Chequers", he said.
"Brexit can not and will not justify additional bureaucracy", he said.
However, Brexit talks are now being pulled in two directions, leaving cross-border trade unresolved and Brexit D-Day on March 29 fast approaching.
"At absolutely no point because Brexit continues to mean Brexit", May replied.
Barnier accepted that the White Paper had brought about "constructive discussions" and they are "not that far" from reaching an agreement.
Time is getting short for Ms. May.
Britain is set to leave the bloc on March 30, but the two sides want to strike an agreement by late October in order to give parliaments enough time to endorse a deal.
Today the European Union published a paper on what businesses should do to prepare for a "no deal" situation, with some commentators believing the chances of that have increased because of the large distance still between the negotiating sides, particularly over the issue of how to retain no customs checks on the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.
"We have made a lot of progress in our withdrawal agreement, particularly regarding citizens' rights", and on the implementation period.
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