EU member states at odds over "hard line" Brexit stance

Catherine Neilan
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Pro-Europe Protesters Wave EU Flags Outside Parliament
Over the long-term, divergence could be bad for the UK (Source: Getty)

EU member states are increasingly at odds over the "hard line" taken by France, Germany and the Commission over the UK's future trade deal, it has emerged.

Charles Grant, director of the think tank Centre for European Reform, tweeted last night that around 10-to-12 countries had "some concerns" about the approach being taken by the traditional core of the EU, "particularly on the narrow scope of the deal that they appear to want to offer UK".

Grant added: "But that dozen have different priorities and no leader, so [France, Germany and the Commission] could win the argument."

The former journalist said that while current divergence was in the UK's interest "as it may - possibly - lead to a softening of the Fra/Ger/Comm line" he warned that it was "probably not good for the UK" in the longer run. No agreement could pave the way for no deal at all, resulting in the much-feared cliff-edge scenario.

He also noted the growing frustration within the EU27 at a lack of clarity from the UK government.

It is hoped that the next 10 days will offer some relief on that front, with a series of high profile speeches by Theresa May and some of her top team including Boris Johnson, David Davis, David Lidington and Liam Fox expected to set out the government's vision for Brexit.

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