France : Theresa May’s new plan for future relations with the EU will be “dead on arrival”, senior figures in Brussels have told The Independent.
EU officials said any hint that the UK wants to be part of the single market on goods, but not services will be rejected.
It is a blow for the prime minister who has spent the last week in meetings with EU leaders, including Angela Merkel, in a bid to prevent Europe dismissing her plans out of hand when they are published next week.
Ms May is expected to push her cabinet to agree to a plan at Chequers on Friday, which would see Britain remaining in full regulatory alignment with the EU on goods, but not on services.
The meeting has also been preceded by threats and warnings from the Brexiteer wing of the Conservatives that the proposals mooted by the prime minister will not be accepted by them in the UK because they keep Britain too closely tied to the EU’s rules and regulations.
But before her ministers have even agreed to the deal, EU officials told The Independent the white paper would be “dead on arrival” in Brussels if, as expected, it proposes that the UK remain in the EU’s single market for goods, but not services.
They claimed they had repeatedly warned UK negotiators that this option would not work. They said it had been widely discussed among EU ministers and rejected – including, crucially, by the EU’s two most powerful players, France and Germany.