The EU diplomat negotiating UK’s exit from the common trade grouping has said he is "strongly" opposed to key parts of British Prime Minister Theresa May's proposals for a future trade deal.
Chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said plans for a "common rulebook" for goods but not services were not in the EU's interests. "Our own ecosystem has grown over decades," he said. "You cannot play with it by picking pieces."
This morning Theresa May had said she would not compromise on the UK government's Chequers plan. The Chequers plan proposes the UK adopt a common rule book for food and goods but not services with the European Union.
However, Barnier suggested the UK's proposals for future regulatory alignment on goods, while remaining outside the single market, also threatened the EU's future as a bloc.
"The British have a choice," he said, as reported by The Guardian. "They could stay in the single market, like Norway, which is also not a member of the EU - but they would then have to take over all the associated rules and contributions to European solidarity. It is your choice."
"But if we let the British pick the raisins out of our rules, that would have serious consequences.
"Then all sorts of other third countries could insist that we offer them the same benefits. That would be the end of the single market and the European project."
In response to the EU official’s scathing critique of the Chequers Plan, the UK government insisted its plans were "precise and pragmatic" and would work for the UK and the EU.
The negotiations between the UK and the EU have an informal October deadline, but Barnier said this could be extended to mid-November.
He said another problem was that many goods now come with services attached - meaning they were hard to separate in a trade deal.
"We have a coherent market for goods, services, capital and people - our own ecosystem that has grown over decades," he said. "There are services in every product. In your mobile phone, for example, it is 20 to 40 percent of the total value."
But, it is not just the EU that has criticised the Chequers Plan. Theresa May is facing opposition from her own party that has called her plan a betrayal of the Brexit vote. Former Brexit minister David Davis on Sunday confirmed that he will be voting against Prime Minister Theresa May's plans and she also faces a rebellion from former Foreign minister Boris Johnson.
However, various business groups have warned about the possible impact on the UK of no-deal Brexit. The World Trade Organization - under whose rules the EU and UK would trade if no deal was agreed upon - said it "would not be end of the world... but it's not going to be a walk in the park".