The BBC‘s Katya Adler has warned that huge EU infighting is beginning to erupt over fears that a Brexit deal could collapse. The EU and UK chief negotiators have both briefly stepped back from post-Brexit trade talks after a member of the EU team tested positive for COVID-19. The BBC’s Europe editor told the Today programme that a row between the European Parliament and EU leaders was growing.
She suggested that EU leaders want to “quietly ditch” the role of MEPs in approving a deal, so that talks can run to the wire.
BBC host Justin Webb asked: “Is it right that the right of MEPs, of the European Parliament, to approve the final deal will be quietly ditched, so they could do the deal as late as New Year’s Eve?”
Ms Adler responded: “You can’t do it as late as New Year’s Eve because the deal would need to be translated into different languages and proofread.
“But, yes, there are whispers here, much to the Parliament’s horror, that if the EU leaders all sign up to it then that would suffice.”
She said that a provisional agreement, without European Parliament discussion, could be enacted from January 1.
Ms Adler added: “The European Parliament would vote on it afterwards.
“The European Parliament doesn’t want that to be the case, and European institutions generally don’t think it is a good look.
“It is a very last-ditch scenario. It’s not official. It’s still being whispered here.
“You could see MEPs voting on this after Christmas. All of this is possible.
“The EU do not want this deal to fall apart over technicalities.”
The deadlock has prompted the French president Emmanuel Macron to call on the European Commission to ramp up no-deal preparations to prepare businesses for the worst.
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Ms Adler added: “We are now waiting for political decisions. The EU believes these technical talks have gone as far as they can go.
“What you need to have on the UK side you have to give up some sovereignty in order to make a trade deal.
“The EU will not accept giving tariff and quota free access to its single market and just not agreeing principles on fair competition.
“But the EU also has to accept it won’t be protecting its single market as tightly as it would wish to.”