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UK not threatening to ‘tear up’ withdrawal deal with EU, minister says

UK not threatening to ‘tear up’ withdrawal deal with EU, minister says
Minister for Trade Policy Greg Hands reassured Brussels on Friday that Britain was not threatening to “tear up” the Withdrawal Agreement, as the European Union steps up its planning for a ‘no-deal’ Brexit.

The UK government has refused to revoke a plan that will break the divorce treaty with the EU. Officials in Brussels have warned the move could sink four years of talks.

“We’re not looking to retreat from our protocol commitments, this is a clarification in case there’s no further negotiated outcome,” Hands told Sky News. He added that the trade deal reached between the UK and Japan on Friday showed that trading partners were still keen to enter into agreements with the UK.

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Britain made it clear this week that it plans to break international law by breaching parts of the Withdrawal Agreement treaty that it signed in January, when it formally left the bloc. The move, which London says is only aimed at clarifying ambiguities, caused a new crisis in talks with the EU. Britain is due to complete its departure from the bloc after the current transition period ends in December.

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier warned that Brussels was increasing its planning for a no-deal Brexit after trade talks made little progress.

“The UK has not engaged in a reciprocal way on fundamental EU principles and interests,” Barnier said after talks in London. “Nobody should underestimate the practical, economic and social consequences of a ‘no deal’ scenario.”

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