BRUSSELS: The European Union told Britain yesterday it should urgently scrap a plan to break their divorce treaty, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government refused and pressed ahead with a draft law that could sink four years of Brexit talks.
With chances growing of a messy end to Britain’s departure from the EU, the European Commission said London would be committing “an extremely serious violation” of last year’s Withdrawal Agreement if it went ahead with proposed legislation.
After emergency talks between Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic and Britain’s Brexit supremo Michael Gove, the EU said Britain’s proposal had “seriously damaged trust” which London must now take steps to re-establish.
Gove, one of Johnson’s most senior ministers, said he refused the EU’s request to scrap the draft legislation.
“I explained to Vice President Sefcovic that we could not and would not do that,” Gove said.
EU diplomats and officials said the bloc could use the Withdrawal Agreement to take legal action against Britain, though there would be no resolution before the end-of-year deadline for Britain’s full exit from a transition period.
The British government says it is committed to the treaty and that a proposed law overriding parts of the Withdrawal Agreement merely clarifies ambiguities.