Ex-diplomat warns WHOLE Brexit process at ‘risk of collapse’ in letter to Brussels chiefs

The UK has now entered the transition stage of Brexit, whereby Boris Johnson will work to conclude a trade agreement with the EU. The official end date of the period is December 31, 2020, and following that time, the UK will officially leave the EU and its regulations.

However, in a letter seen by the Express.co.uk, former UK diplomat Sir Peter Marshall has claimed Brexit talks could be undone due to both the political declaration and withdrawal agreement being deemed “fraudulent”.

Writing in a letter to Ursula von der Leyen, Charles Michel and David Sassoli, Sir Peter insists the process of activating Article 50 – the withdrawal from the EU – would be deemed “illegal” if brought before the European Court of Justice.

Primarily, once Article 50 is activated, as set out in the provisions of the treaty, it states “the Union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with that State, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship”.

In contrast, as set out in the guidelines of withdrawal adopted by the European Council, “other issues still require agreement and negotiations can only progress as long as all commitments are undertaken so far are respected in full” which Sir Peter argues is in “flagrant contravention” of the provisions of Article 50. 

Sir Peter also stated the EU has violated the core principle of Article 50, “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed”, by moving forward with negotiations. 

Therefore by placing the guidelines for negotiation ahead of the stipulations within Article 50, Sir Peter argues the Council has breached the EU’s own rules.

Overall, the former diplomat states by moving onto trade negotiations, the EU has overridden the provisions set out in Article 50.

Previously, the former diplomat has also stated: “To get their way, the European Council in effect hijacked the negotiations.

“Thus they distorted the process for withdrawal laid down in Article 50.

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“Article 50(2) instructs the Union to ‘negotiate and conclude an agreement with that state, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union.’

“The guidelines, in contrast, insisted on the ‘phasing’ of the negotiations: they declined to ‘take account of the framework for the future relationship’ until the withdrawal arrangements, including the ‘divorce bill’, had been all but settled.”

With the UK now in the transition stage, Mr Johnson has guaranteed negotiations will be completed before the end of the year.

Ahead of negotiations, the EU has voted on its established position going forward.

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Led by Michel Barnier, MEPs voted in favour of a resolution which encourages him to take a tough line on the state of fisheries, Gibraltar and keeping the UK tied to a level playing field.

The issue of fisheries could prove to be a key battleground as many Brexiteers will look to Mr Johnson to secure Britain’s fishing independence.

The UK has been locked in the Common Fisheries Policy which allows European countries the right to fish within the European Economic Zone.

Some groups, however, argue the UK has been exploited due to the rich fishing waters.

The phrase “level playing field”, has been constantly stated by Brussels in an attempt to tie the UK into the EU’s environmental, tax and labour standards.

On the continent, it had been feared the UK may drop taxes to encourage trade to become what former Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond termed as “Singapore on Thames”.

One EU diplomat said: “We are not going to agree quota-free, tariff-free access if there is no level playing field.

“Because we cannot sell to our voters and to our companies that they are being undercut by competitors.

“We are just not going to do that.

“Now in the eyes of the UK, this might seem unfair, this might seem overreach, but it’s the way politics is.”

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