No deal Brexit: UK-EU trade talks set to collapse amid Internal Market Bill row

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Ben Harris-Quinney, chairman of the Independent Bow Group think-tank, has said the Government’s plan to make changes to the withdrawal agreement has made a no deal scenario “more likely” at the end of the transition period. Despite huge opposition from the EU and Tory backbenchers, the Prime Minister pressed ahead with the legislation to provide legal “safety net” to the peace process and ensure Brussels could not impose tariffs on goods moving to Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK in the event of no deal.

The Bill, which threatens to break international law, moved one step closer to being approved this afternoon after Mr Johnson agreed to table an amendment to give Parliament a vote on any provisions before the Bill can come into force.

The legislation has caused uproar in Brussels, with European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen warning Mr Johnson he cannot unilaterally set aside the deal that was signed in January.

Mr Harris-Quinney, who has worked on foreign policy for both the UK and European Parliament, insisted there is no chance the bloc will accept this move from Westminster.

The political expert adds if the EU does not seek a compromise on the key issues then a no deal exit will become a “certainty”.

He told Express.co.uk: “At the moment there are no signs that Brussels will even agree to Boris’s proposed withdrawal agreement, a no deal is therefore currently the most likely outcome and was before the Internal Market Bill was announced.

“If the EU pulls away on more issues then a no deal outcome is close to a certainty.

“This Government has learned the lesson that people expect them to deliver the Brexit we voted for to schedule come what may.

“I am confident they will even if it means opting for a no deal.”

Mr Harris-Quinney also echoed the comments made by the Prime Minister who told the Commons the legislation acted as an “insurance policy” if the EU conducts negotiations in “bad faith”.

He added: “With the Internal Market Bill the Government are preparing for the possibility that the EU or the devolved parliaments may act in bad faith during or after the Brexit process and attempt to break up the smooth functioning of our union.

“It is not something the government want to have to use, but allows them to be prepared for this eventuality.”

Addressing the Parliament in Brussels, Mrs von der Leyen warned the UK the withdrawal agreement “cannot be unilaterally changed” and insisted it is the “only way” to ensure peace between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

She said: “This Withdrawal Agreement took three years to negotiate and we worked relentlessly on it line-by-line, word-by-word, and together we succeeded.

“The European Union and the UK jointly agreed that it was the best and only way for ensuring peace on the island of Ireland and we will never backtrack on that.

“This agreement has been ratified by this house and the House of Commons. It cannot be unilaterally changed, disregarded, disapplied.

“This is a matter of law and trust and good faith.”

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The Prime Minister was grilled further on his Brexit plans by the Commons Liaison Committee this afternoon and he wasted no time in firing a warning shot to Brussels.

Asked whether he believed the EU was acting in good faith, Mr Johnson said: “I don’t believe they are.”

Mr Johnson added a no deal scenario was “not what this country wants” and “it’s not what our EU friends and partners want from us”.

He added: “Therefore I have every hope and expectation that that won’t be the outcome.”

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