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Meanwhile, a think tank boss has warned any further delay will be taken by Brussels as a sign the Prime Minister may be about to “buckle”. As revealed today by Express.co.uk, Mr Johnson will not yet decide on whether an agreement with the bloc can be reached.
I am very worried, as I don’t trust EU to be acting in good faith
Daniel Kawczynski MP
However, in taking such an approach, he would go against the deadline he set in September, when he said any deal needed to be sewn up by October 15.
Daniel Kawczynski, Conservative MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham, was concerned at how such a strategy would be interpreted by the bloc.
He told Express.co.uk: “I am very worried, as I don’t trust EU to be acting in good faith.
“We must be prepared to leave with no deal and stick to that.”
Mr Kawczynski feared the EU was effectively setting a trap in order to “run down the clock” and heap pressure on Mr Johnson to compromise as December 31 – the last day of the transition period – drew closer.
He added: “As they say – ‘with friends like these’ etc.
“The UK is better off walking away than signing up to an EU deal.”
Express.co.uk understands from sources familiar with the matter that Number 10 has offered some degree of reassurance on the subject.
Nevertheless, Robert Oulds, director of the pro-Brexit Bruges Group, shared Mr Kawczynski’s reservations.
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He told Express.co.uk: “It tells the EU that Boris may buckle under pressure.
“Agreeing to the EU’s timetable and letting them set the agenda was Theresa May’s big mistake.
“Boris should have learned from recent history.”
Downing Street is understood to be keen to see what emerges from the two-day European Council summit of EU leaders, which gets underway in Brussels tomorrow.
Lord Frost will emphasise the importance of intensifying negotiations when he speaks to EU opposite number Michel Barnier.
Meanwhile, Mr Johnson is due to speak to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen this evening, when he will make similar points.
A memo leaked in advance of tomorrow’s summit said: “The European Council reaffirmed the Union’s determination to have as close as possible a partnership with the United Kingdom on the basis of the negotiating directives of February 29, 2020.
“Against this background, the European Council invited the Union’s chief negotiator to intensify negotiations with the aim of ensuring that an agreement can be applied from January 1, 2021.
“The European Council calls on member states, Union institutions and all stakeholders to step up their work on preparedness and readiness at all levels and for all outcomes, including that of no agreement.”
Speaking last month, Mr Johnson suggested he was ready to pull the plug if a deal was not wrapped up by tomorrow.
He added: “If we can’t agree by then, then I do not see that there will be a free trade agreement between us, and we should both accept that and move on.”
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