The government has been accused of plotting a “route map to the cherished no-deal” Brexit as it outlined its Brexit plan.
During a statement on the UK's negotiating mandate with the EU, Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said the government has "no intention of doing anything other than honouring the Withdrawal Agreement”.
He also reiterated the government’s pledge to conclude negotiations by the end of 2020.
However, SNP MP Pete Wishart lashed out at Gove, accusing the government of sticking to the deadline so they could achieve a no-deal Brexit.
To Tory jeers and cheers, Wishart said: "What a load of bunkum, baloney and codswallop.
“This is nothing other than a route map to the cherished no-deal – the real ambition of these Brexit zealots.
“They're even now prepared to break international law in order to achieve this outcome.”
Shadow Brexit minister Paul Blomfield described the government's plans as "underwhelming" before warning: "They started with a commitment to securing the 'exact same benefits' that we currently enjoy.
"This was scaled back to 'frictionless trade' to protect our vital supply chains. Then it was Canada+++, now it's 'Canada so long as it doesn't get in the way of ending our alignment with the standards we've previously enjoyed’."
Blomfield asked the Government to publish an economic impact assessment of the deal it is seeking with the EU along with an assessment of other trade deals.
The Government set out its plans for the talks ahead of the first round of negotiations on Monday, making clear that it “will not negotiate any arrangements in which the UK does not have control of its own laws and political life”.
The plans mean Boris Johnson could walk away from trade talks with the EU in June unless there is the “broad outline” of a deal.
The government says the UK will rely on World Trade Organization terms under an arrangement with the EU similar to Australia’s if progress on a comprehensive deal cannot be made.
In the Political Declaration agreed by the prime minister and EU last year, the two sides agreed to work towards a deal “encompassing robust commitments to ensure a level playing field”.
The EU’s mandate called for any agreement to use Brussels’ standards as “a reference point” over time – indicating that the UK could be expected to keep aligned with changes to the rules covering state subsidies, environmental standards and workers’ rights in future, something that would breach Johnson’s red lines.
Downing Street insiders indicated the PM believes the mandate he won at the general election trumps the declaration, which does not have the status of a binding international treaty.
And they said Brussels had also moved away from the Political Declaration, pointing to the EU’s mandate published on Tuesday going far beyond the agreed terms on the “level playing field”.
Responding to the plans, the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier tweeted: “We will stick to all our prior commitments in the Political Declaration.”
We take note of the #UK’s mandate published today and will discuss our respective positions on Monday.— Michel Barnier (@MichelBarnier) February 27, 2020
We will stick to all our prior commitments in the Political Declaration.
We want an ambitious & fair partnership with the UK in the future 🇪🇺🇬🇧
European Commission spokeswoman Dana Spinant added: "In relation to any timeline that was referred to by the UK side today, there is a mid-year rendezvous in June to assess where we are with the negotiations.
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"So this is probably a very fair timeline to take by the UK prime minister for a rendezvous in which we take stock of the future and chances for a deal, what type of deal.”
Asked whether the EU was preparing for the failure to reach a deal, she said it would be "premature to speculate" about the result of those negotiations.
But the European Commission "retains its capacity to prepare for no deal following the result of those negotiations”.