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President Emmanuel Macron wants the European Union to target splits within the Conservative Party to force the Prime Minister to drop his Internal Market Bill. He believes the row over whether Ministers should be able to scrap EU rules in Northern Ireland as part of the fix to avoid a hard border after Brexit could be used as “leverage” in the bid to force Mr Johnson to climbdown. French Europe minister Clement Beaune insisted Brussels should issue a take-it-or-leave it ultimatum to MPs, forcing them to choose between a trade deal with the bloc or the Prime Minister’s legislation.
He said: “I am excluding nothing for the moment. We will see the parliamentary and political context in the UK in the coming weeks.
“I do not want to give a signal of pressure. But on the other hand, it is clear that we cannot put in place an agreement on the future relationship if the Withdrawal Agreement has been called into question.
“There Europe has some leverage. If at the end of the year, if we have an agreement on the future relationship and we are ready to ratify it at European and national levels, but the Withdrawal Agreement has been called into question… well, obviously, we cannot go forward.”
At a meeting of European affairs ministers, the bloc will resist any attempts to renegotiate the Withdrawal Agreement.
They are expected to encourage Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, to continue trade talks with Britain while separately eurocrats ponder legal action.
Germany has called on Mr Johnson to “stop playing games” as post-Brexit negotiations enter a crunch period.
Europe minister Michael Roth said: “Please dear friends in London stop the games time is running out what we really need is a fair basis for further negotiations and we are ready for that.”
The German added: “The so-called Internal Market Bill is extremely worries us because it violates the guiding principles of the Withdrawal Agreement and that’s totally unacceptable for us.”
European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic said the EU expects “nothing more, nothing less” than Britain to fully implement the divorce deal before the end of the year.
He said: “The EU believes in calm, constructive cooperation through the channels created through the Withdrawal Agreement.
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“We will not be renegotiating, but we are dedicated to its full and timely implementation – nothing more, nothing less.”
Meanwhile, Commission officials have declared they are working on the basis there will be no Brexit trade deal.
Eurocrats will draw up future economic forecasts based on no formal trading relations with Britain, according to source.
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European leaders will discuss the bitter wrangling over a trade deal with Britain when they meet in Brussels later this week.
Mr Barnier is expected to travel to London tomorrow to hold talks with Lord Frost, the Prime Minister’s Brexit envoy, ahead of ninth round of formal negotiations.
Britain and Brussels have both set a deadline of mid-October for any trade deal to be completed.
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