Boris Johnson told to channel Thatcher’s ‘complete determination’ in Brexit talks with EU

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Boris Johnson is due to assess the state of the Brexit negotiations in a video call with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Sunday afternoon. The trade talks have progressed with difficulty because of a persistent divergence on the issues of fishing, state aid and the level-playing field the European Union has been calling for. Speaking to un-Locked, Conservative MP John Redwood insisted the Prime Minister should channel the “complete determination” Margaret Thatcher showed Brussels when renegotiating the terms of the UK’s contributions to the common budget in the 1980s.

Mr Redwood said: “The distinguishing characteristic of her excellent renegotiations of our money settlement was complete determination.

“She was told by the official Civil Service and the UK establishment that what she wanted to do was breaking the law, was quite impossible, it was against the treaties.

“Those days, as a member of the European Union, we were fully under their law and the ultimate sovereign power in our country was the European Court of Justice.”

Mr Johnson’s Government also has faced accusations of planning to break the law after Cabinet tabled the controversial Internal Market Bill earlier last month.

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The Prime Minister has maintained the legislation protects the sanctity of the UK’s internal market but his failure to back down on the bill pushed Brussels into launching legal proceedings against the Government.

Mr Redwood however insited the UK must remain resolute: “Margaret Thatcher said, ‘this is right. I know it is right that we get some of our money back, we’re paying far too much in and getting too little back in return.’

“And she ignored the fact it would be a break in the treaties. Withhold the money, the European Union thought she was serious, and they were right – she was serious.

“And they were worried she would simply withhold the payments and put them into a legal problem so they did the decent thing and they gave her a pretty generous improvement on the dreadful settlement Edward Heath had negotiated and the Labour Government had endorses in the 1970s.”

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The Brexiteer MP added: “So I think it’s about resolution, it’s about determination and, of course, the establishment that likes the European Union will work with the European Union to try to make it difficult for a British negotiator.

“I think it’s been dreadful the way leading politicians, particularly on the opposition benches, have been working very actively with the European Union.”

UK negotiator Lord Frost on Friday issued a statement on the state of play of the talks following the ninth round of meetings with counterpart Michel Barnier.

Lord Frost insisted there is still a chance for a trade deal to be agreed before the year is out but noted clear differences remain on the contentious issues.

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He wrote: “On fisheries the gap between us is unfortunately very large and, without further realism and flexibility from the EU, risks being impossible to bridge.

“These issues are fundamental to our future status as an independent country.”

The Prime Minister said he was “pretty optimistic” about securing a deal as he prepared to meet with Mrs von der Leyen.

Mr Johnson however reiterated an agreement would have to be in place before the EU Council meeting on October 15.

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