Politics

‘We WON’T pay the price!’ MEP rebellion brews over plans to force rubber-stamp Brexit deal

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The European Parliament now expects to be forced to hold a last-gasp voting session on the future relationship agreement on December 28. Senior MEPs have voiced frustration at the lack of time they will be given to properly scrutinise the legal texts with talks expected to run into December. Bernd Lange, the EU Parliament’s trade chief, fumed: “It’s already five past midnight. We need a text, otherwise ratification and democratic scrutiny by the European Parliament will be a farce.

“The gambling of Boris Johnson has brought us where are now. We won’t pay the price for that.”

With little time to translate the legal text into the bloc’s 24 official languages, they fear they will be made to make a verdict based on an English-only version.

Kati Piri, a member of the EU Parliament’s Brexit committee, said the negotiations are now running a month behind schedule.

The Dutch MEP said: “As you can imagine the anxiety and the stress is starting to build up in the European Parliament.

“We had made several timelines on how to ratify such an important deal. The last deadline for us to have proper democratic scrutiny was the end of October.

“If you compare it to all the other trade deals we’ve struck as the EU, this is the shortest time period we ever had to ratify a deal.”

Ms Piri insisted it would be politically toxic for the EU Parliament to be left out of the bloc’s ratification process with EU27 leaders still to consent to any agreement.

She said: “Even if it would be possible it’s clearly not something that we would politically want to do.”

And some MEPs expect a series of concessions to be made by the EU side in order to get any deal across the line.

Brussels sources have said there will most likely be a trade-off between the bloc’s demands for common standards and reduced access to Britain’s coastal waters.

Christophe Hansen, another member of the EU Parliament’s Brexit committee, said the bloc would have to be prepared to meet Boris Johnson’s fisheries demands in order to clinch an agreement.

The Luxembourgish MEP said: “There will be compromises to be made on fisheries. The status quo, that is somewhere we’re not going to land.”

MUST READ: Scottish fishermen hit out at EU over demands to concede to Barnier

Meanwhile, Irish prime minister Micheal Martin has signalled the Brexit trade deal could be wrapped up as early as this week.

On a visit to Dublin Port, he said: “President Ursula Von der Leyen did say to the EU leaders last Thursday night that there are texts now on all areas.

“I would be hopeful that by the end of this week we could see the outline of a deal.

“That remains to be seen. It’s down to political will. One must remain hopeful that a deal can be arrived at.”

The European Commission also denied reports of a “temporary, emergency Brexit deal” to buy more times for talks and ratification after the end of the transition period.

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Mr Barnier’s official spokesman said: “You either have a deal or you don’t have a deal, to be absolutely clear.

“At the end of the year, the UK leaves the EU’s single market and customs union. There is no possibility to extend the transition period beyond that point. As you know, that date, January 1, is set in stone.

“We are trying to get a deal for that to make sure a future partnership agreement is in place with the UK on January 1.

“We are fully concentrated on reaching a deal with the UK at the moment, we need to give every single chance to the deal and a chance of success in the negotiations.”

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