Brexit trade negotiations are expected to finally begin after the withdrawal agreement Boris Johnson negotiated with the European Union clears Parliament sometime in January. The Prime Minister insisted he will seek to have the talks kick off as soon as possible to ensure a deal is in place by the end of the transition period in December, effectively giving the British Government 11 months to come to an agreement with the bloc. But former German Ambassador to the UK Thomas Matussek warned time for talks could be significantly cut short as the parliaments of all EU27 must ratify the withdrawal agreement before the future trade relationship with Britain can be discussed.
Speaking to the Today programme, Mr Matussek said: "Ursula von der Leyen will make clear to the Prime Minister even this one year we have is not really a year, we’re talking about six months.
"First of all, the mandate - you will have that in late February and then you will need three months to ratify any deal in the 27 Parliaments of the continental EU.
"That, in the end, gives you six months which is extremely unbusinesslike. Especially if you keep in mind the Prime Minister said he does not want a close regulatory alignment.
"For the EU it’s clear you cannot have access to the internal market if you don’t apply certain rules."
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Boris Johnson has been warned of potential delay to the ratification of the deal across the EU (Image: NUMBER 10•BR1)
Boris Johnson insisted he will secure an agreement with the EU within a year (Image: NUMBER 10)
Times for the ratification of an international treaty vary from parliament to parliament and talks could suffer further delays should any EU member state object to the deal.
In 2016, the EU failed to adopt a new comprehensive trade deal with Canada, the so-called CETA, after the Wallonia region of Belgium objected to the ratification. The opposition was later resolved and Belgium gave its backing to the deal.
Mr Matussek also insisted EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will once again underline the importance of creating a "level-playing field" between the UK and the rest of the EU as he dismissed suggestions an agreement could be easily found