United Kingdom says 'meaningless' to resume Brexit talks without European Union compromise

Daniel Fowler
October 19, 2020

In a letter published in the Financial Times, the top archbishops in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland said the government's Brexit-related Internal Market Bill had "enormous moral, as well as political and legal, consequences".

Led by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, they said the UK Internal Market Bill has "enormous moral, as well as political and legal, consequences" by paving the way for a breach of global law by overriding parts of the Withdrawal Agreement with Brussels.

"If carefully negotiated terms are not honored and laws can be "legally" broken, on what foundations does our democracy stand?" they asked. It is likely to face strong opposition in Parliament's upper chamber, where the governing Conservative Party does not have a majority.

Mr Gove said on Sunday "we are ready if required" to leave without a trade deal, but left room for talks to restart during an appearance on the BBC's The Andrew Marr Show.

Britain's chief Brexit minister hailed that as evidence of significant movement from the European Union, three days after Prime Minister Boris Johnson declared that the talks were effectively over.

The bloc sees it as a flagrant breach of an global treaty that could undermine the delicate foundations of Northern Ireland's peace settlement, created by the 1998 Good Friday accord.

PM Johnson says Britain could have a simple deal based on free trade principles.

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He also blamed a possible collapse in talks on "the position that's been taken in the last couple of weeks" by European Union leaders.

Despite that hard line, Britain's Brexit preparations minister, Michael Gove, said the door to talks was still "ajar". The two sides have been trying to strike a deal on trade and other relations before then, but months of talks have been stalled on the issue of fishing and rules to ensure fair competition. The EU fears the United Kingdom will gain an unfair advantage by slashing food, workplace and environmental standards and pumping state money into businesses once it is free of the bloc's rules.

Businesses, increasingly concerned about the high tariffs of a no-deal exit, called on both sides to find a compromise for a deal.

Johnson and Gove were due to hold a call with business leaders on Monday.

The UK government launched an information campaign advising businesses that "time is running out" to be ready for a complex new trading chapter with a post-Brexit transition period expiring at the end of this year, deal or no deal.

Gove said Sunday that the United Kingdom is "increasingly well-prepared" for a no-deal Brexit, which could disrupt supply chains across Europe, worsening the coronavirus-induced recession.

"But I still hope we will get a deal through."
"So this is deeply challenging for many businesses".

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