‘No automatic transition’ Key Merkel ally throws DOUBT on whether Britain will get EU deal

BRITAIN could crash out of the EU without a transitional deal if “substantive progress” is not made on future relations within the next year, a key ally of Angela Merkel said today.

EPP chief Manfred WeberEbS

EPP chief Manfred Weber

German MEP Manfred Weber, who is chair of the powerful EPP grouping, said the UK has no “automatic” right to a bridging agreement even if it is on current membership terms.In an explosive intervention he also put the boot into David Davis over his remarks that last week’s sufficient progress agreement is not legally binding on the UK.

Mr Weber called on Theresa May to offer a “clarification” of the Brexit secretary’s comments, which have caused outrage in Brussels, and to firmly commit Britain to the deal.

Mr Davis prompted open fury across the EU over the weekend when he suggested in a television interview that the text agreed between Mrs May and Jean-Claude Juncker is not binding on the UK.

Mr Weber said: “If David Davis and other key representatives in London now come along and cast doubt as to the results of the first phase, by saying for example that the financial payments will be withheld unless there is a trade deal, that clouds the picture once again.
“We have agreements today and what’s on the Council table is something that’s legally binding for the UK Government as well. They can no longer tinker around with these agreements and we must make it quite clear that these agreements are legally binding.“There is no automatic transition period from the point of view of the EPP. The transitional period will only occur once we see genuine substantive progress made, without that there will be no transitional period.

“I must tell you I have no idea about what is the British idea of what they want to achieve finally. We need clarity from London. That’s why I’m not ready now to give consent to the transitional period, we link it to the question of progress in the second phase.”

We hear from David Davis, we hear from Mrs May and it’s not clear whom we should trust

Manfred Weber

The Brexit secretary’s comments came after environment secretary Michael Gove also jangled European nerves by suggesting that future UK governments could change the agreement, which is supposed to be set in stone.And Mr Weber insisted that the EU needs to hear from the PM that the pair’s remarks do not represent official Government position or risk eroding the trust built up during the first phase of the negotiations.

He said: “Theresa May now has the need to clarify that what was agreed on Thursday is the ground for the future. We need a commitment from the UK Government that what was agreed for them is legally binding.”

“We hear from David Davis, we hear from Mrs May and it’s not clear whom we should trust. I think the EU needs to take its time about the second stage.”

In provocative remarks Mr Weber said that the EU had “won the day” on the three key divorce issues – citizens’ rights, the Brexit bill and Ireland – which showed how important it is to be part of a club.He said: “It illustrates how important it is to be part of this community, to be part of the EU, and I think Ireland felt supported by all of its European partners.

“During the negotiations it almost felt as if we were all Irish because we were all in favour of their position. The EU’s position was a strong position, London stood alone and therefore they were in a weaker position.

He added that the EU had “wasted so much time” negotiating with Britain and claimed that the Government only came up with an acceptable offer “due to the economic pressure in London”

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