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The Prime Minister has repeatedly ruled out an extension to the Brexit transition period, despite the disruption caused to negotiations by the coronavirus pandemic. This leaves only two options on the table – strike a free trade deal with possible compromises or brace for a hard Brexit on December 31. The UK and the bloc remain at loggerheads over contentious issues including fishing access and the so-called “level playing field” which would prevent UK businesses from undercutting their rivals abroad.
Former Brexit Party MEP Belinda de Lucy said the disappointing lack of preparations for a possible hard Brexit on this side of the water means Brussels is not taking Mr Johnson’s threat seriously.
She believes the prospect of Nigel Farage relaunching the Brexit Party – which he is said to be seriously considering – could be just what the Tories need to push their no-deal threat harder.
She told Express.co.uk: “The question is are the Tories really serious about a no-deal?
“There are a lot of people who are just not sure whether they’ve got the bottle for that and so further compromises to get a deal done are possibly in the air and the Brexit Party will be there to expose any of the compromises in a way that perhaps the Tory Party would rather we kept quiet.”
She warned against any hopes of the bloc caving to the UK’s key demands in trade talks.
Ms de Lucy served as an MEP for South East England from May 2019 to January 2020 when the UK left the bloc.
She said the EU is a “very project-focused force” and its own ambitions remain “their priority far more than a trade deal”.
She added: “So for them to give us a good trade deal, they really have to believe that no deal is an option and no deal is on the table.
“And I’ve not seen a huge amount of preparation for it in the press, maybe it’s being done secretly – who knows?
“But I think it needs to be a Tory commitment that they are considering no-deal because otherwise it’s just a whole set of compromises and then we get back to the Theresa May-style soft Brexit and we just can’t have that.
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“I would love to think that Boris and Gove were really serious about a WTO [World Trade Organisation exit].
“I’ve not seen much evidence for it but I hope perhaps with more Brexit Party pressure they will. I just can’t see the EU backing down.
“If they think that we’re not going to walk away, they’ll just push for more compromises. We will be right back where we were a year and a half ago.”
The Sunday Express reported that plans to relaunch the Brexit Party have been in the pipeline for months.
A source close to Mr Farage said the party’s phones have been “buzzing” recently with calls from “furious Tory voters” urging them to relaunch.
Last week the German Government urged fellow EU member states to prepare for a no-deal Brexit, according to an internal document seen by Reuters.
Berlin called for “both national and European contingency planning” to prepare for “a no deal 2.0.”
Angela Merkel’s Government warned: “From September, the negotiations enter a hot phase.
“Britain is already escalating threats in Brussels, wants to settle as much as possible in the shortest possible time and hopes to achieve last-minute success in the negotiations.”
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