There is “no real sign” the U.K. government wants Brexit negotiations to succeed and ministers are preparing to blame the coronavirus for any economic fallout next year, the EU’s trade commissioner said.
In a blunt assessment, Phil Hogan told Ireland’s national broadcaster RTÉ today that the future relationship negotiations are making “very slow progress.”
“There is no real sign that our British friends are approaching the negotiations with a plan to succeed. I hope I am wrong, but I don’t think so,” he said.
“I think that the United Kingdom politicians and government have certainly decided that COVID is going to be blamed for all the fallout from Brexit and my perception of it is they don’t want to drag the negotiations out into 2021 because they can effectively blame COVID for everything.”
Hogan, Ireland’s European commissioner, added that without a “step change,” the combined impact of the virus and Brexit would result in an “almighty blow to the U.K. economy later in the year” that would have spillover effects for Ireland and other EU countries.
Boris Johnson’s official spokesman said today he does not accept the assessment.“We are ready to keep talking with the EU. But that will not make us any more likely to agree to the EU’s proposal in certain areas which are unprecedented and do not take into account that we have left the EU as an independent state,” the spokesperson said.
“We will continue to negotiate constructively to achieve a balanced solution.”