As the December 31 transition period deadline looms ever closer, officials in Brussels have drawn up a set of tactics to deliver a deal. According to senior EU officials, the bloc will allow Boris Johnson to claim victory over the bloc – even if he compromises.
The posturing would allow Mr Johnson to placate critics in Westminster, who may have lashed out if the EU had indicated it had secured its own compromise.
EU sources told Bloomberg Mr Johnson’s no-deal warning last Friday has not caused much alarm among the leaders of the 27 member states.
They said his ultimatum was mere posturing which is necessary for Mr Johnson to sell a compromise trade deal to staunch Brexiteers.
The EU believe they can avert a no-deal Brexit by making it appear Mr Johnson has forced the bloc to back down on key demands.
The plan would see the EU send David Frost a draft text laying out their determination to secure a trade deal as sovereign equals.
Another option could see Brussels compromise on state aid rules.
The rumoured plan was ripped apart by Brexiteers, one of whom said the bloc was employing a “risky tactic”.
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Earlier today the bloc’s chief negotiator struck an optimistic note on Brexit following the EU’s dismal assessment of talks last week.
Mr Barnier told the European Parliament a free trade agreement was “within reach” while insisting both sides must be willing to compromise on thorny issues for the negotiating process to restart.
Mr Barnier told MEPs: “Our door remains open. It will remain open right up until the last day when we can work together.”
But he said “it takes two to make a deal”, adding: “We are not sure that’s the outcome we will obtain and that’s why we need to be ready to deal with the consequences of a possible no-deal scenario.”
He said his team would “seek the necessary compromises on both sides in order to do our utmost to reach an agreement” and said they will not give up in their efforts.
A spokesman for No10 welcomed Mr Barnier’s comments and said Government officials would dissect his words.
He said: “We note with interest that the EU’s negotiator, speaking to the European Parliament this morning, has commented in a significant way on the issues behind the current difficulties in our talks.
“We are studying carefully what was said.
“David Frost will discuss the situation when he speaks to Michel Barnier later today.”