Britain’s divorce from the European Union veered back into crisis Monday (September 7).
That after Boris Johnson said a trade deal had to be done by mid-October.
In remarks given to the media, the UK prime minister said if there was no agreement by then, both sides should just accept it and ‘move on’.
The comments come amid reports that his government is preparing to tear up parts of the existing exit agreement.
According to the Financial Times, a draft internal market bill would override parts of the pact covering state aid and Northern Ireland customs.
That could jeopardise the entire treaty.
A UK government spokesman played that danger down, saying the bill would merely ‘clarify’ existing arrangements.
But the reports drew a strong response from EU leaders and officials.
In a Tweet, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen warned London that the withdrawal agreement was a binding legal obligation.
EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier sounded downbeat in a radio interview.
Negotiations are difficult, he says, because Britain wants the best of both worlds.
Now some think the new deadline, and the leaked bill, may just be negotiating tactics.
But they’ve cast a new cloud over the next round of talks, due to begin imminently in London.
And markets take it seriously.
Sterling fell around one percent versus the dollar following Monday’s reports.