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The BBC’s Europe Editor Katya Adler has revealed that there is a growing sense of panic in Brussels that Boris Johnson will collapse the talks between the two sides. The British Prime Minister has stunned the EU by urging MPs to support a new bill which changes parts of the Brexit deal that he negotiated with the EU and signed in January. Brussels has accused Boris Johnson of deliberately trying to endanger the trade talks and force the EU to walk away.
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Brussels is suspicious that the internal market bill, which the Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis admitted would breach the law, was designed to collapse the talks.
Katya Adler told BBC News: “The EU asked for emergency face-to-face talks so that they could be told what exactly Britain plans to do with the withdrawal agreement they signed in January.
“The EU is not happy. The Commission President has already said that this proposal undermines trust.
“There is talk here in Brussels that the EU could even take legal action against the British.”
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Adler continued: “But this is also understood as tactic. The French trade minister said it is a part of a game of bluff.
“It is assumed by many here to be an attempt to put pressure on Brussels just as EU-UK trade talks are really coming to a climax.
“I have spoken to EU diplomats who have said they will still pursue trade talks with the UK, that they still want this deal.
“But the atmosphere was already so bad before today that speculation that the talks could break down all together is beginning to get louder.”
The Irish leader Micheál Martin said there were now “justifiable doubts” as to whether the UK wanted to conclude trade negotiations at all.
On Sunday Prime Minister Johnson said that if there was no deal by 15 October then both sides should “accept that and move on”.
The latest warning comes amid claims that the EU could retaliate against the UK with financial and trade sanctions.
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A leaked EU legal opinion suggested that Britain has already breached the withdrawal agreement by tabling the internal market bill.
The European Commission believes the UK breached the terms of the treaty simply by taking the first steps to pass a law that would negate key parts of the agreement signed last year.
This has prompted Brussels to draw up planned legal action against the UK.
The Commission has even told the 27 EU member-states that there are grounds for the bloc to take “legal remedies” through the European court of Justice before the end of the transition period.
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