Britain is not threatening to “tear up” the Withdrawal Agreement that it signed with the EU in January, said UK Trade Policy Minister Greg Hands on Friday as the row between the two sides continues.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government has refused to revoke a plan that will break the divorce treaty even though Brussels says it could sink four years of talks.
“It’s not threatening to tear up the treaty.
“We’re not looking to retreat from our protocol commitments, this is a clarification in case there’s no further negotiated outcome,” Hands told Sky News.
He said that a trade deal between the UK and Japan reached on Friday showed that the trading partners were still keen to do deals with the UK.
Similarly, the EU stepped up planning for a ‘no-deal’ Brexit on Friday after Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government refused to revoke an ultimatum on breaking the divorce treaty that Brussels says will sink four years of talks.
Britain said explicitly this week that it planned to break international law by breaching parts of the Withdrawal Agreement treaty that it signed in January when it formally left the bloc.
Britain says the move is aimed at clarifying ambiguities, but it caused a new crisis in talks less than four months before the United Kingdom is due to complete its departure from the EU’s orbit when a transition period ends in December.
The EU has demanded that Britain scrap the plan to breach the divorce treaty by the end of this month.
Britain has refused, saying its parliament is sovereign above international law.
“As the United Kingdom looks to what kind of future trade relationship it wants with the EU, a prerequisite for that is honouring agreements that are already in place,” said Pascal Donohoe, Chairman of Euro Zone Finance Ministers.
“It is imperative that the government of the United Kingdom respond back to the call from the (European) Commission.”
As the atmosphere soured between London and Brussels, Japan and Britain said they had reached agreement in principle on a bilateral trade deal that meant 99 per cent of the Britain’s exports to Japan would be tariff-free.