Brexit tensions escalated again today as France slammed Boris Johnson’s ‘intransigent and unrealistic’ stance on trade talks.
Europe minister Jean-Yves Le Drian delivered a stinging rebuke to the PM in a speech amid fears that negotiations are on the verge of collapse.
The two sides are at odds over access to fishing waters and whether the UK should continue to obey EU rules, with the clock running down to get a deal in place for the end of the transition period in January.
Mr Johnson has insisted he is ready to walk away from the table within weeks rather than compromise sovereignty.
Speaking to French ambassadors in Paris alongside German counterpart Heiko Maas this morning, Mr Le Drian said: ‘Negotiations are not advancing due to the intransigent and frankly unrealistic attitude of the United Kingdom.’
Europe minister Jean-Yves Le Drian delivered a stinging rebuke to the PM in a speech amid fears that negotiations are on the verge of collapse
Mr Le Drian was speaking to ambassadors in Paris alongside German counterpart Heiko Maas (left) this morning
There were claims last week that Michel Barnier had been ringing round EU leaders warning that the talks were near the ‘end of the road’.
Mr Barnier is trying to heap pressure on Mr Johnson to compromise and has asked German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron for support.
However, Tory MPs have warned Brussels must realise the UK is ‘under new management’ and will not cave in.
Germany currently holds the rotating presidency of the EU Council and had intended to discuss Brexit during the meeting of envoys this week.
But it was dropped from the agenda due to a lack of progress in recent months in discussions between Brussels and the UK as they try to agree the terms of the future relationship.
EU officials accuse London of a ‘wasted summer’ and are said to be increasingly of the view Downing Street is prepared to walk away without a deal and blame the bloc.
However, Tory MPs believe Brussels is posturing to force Number 10 to make concessions.
The UK’s negotiator David Frost (left) and Michel Barnier in Brussels last month