‘Blind with a gun to their head!’ Brexiteer fury as talks pushed into the 11th hour

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Post-Brexit trade talks remain on the brink with outstanding issues remaining over fisheries and the level playing field ahead of the transition period deadline of December 31. Former Brexit Party MEP James Wells says he expects an agreement to be reached in the coming days but raised major concerns over the lack of time MPs would have to scrutinise hundreds of pages of legal texts.

On Thursday night, MPs were sent home for the Christmas break but put on standby to return to parliament if a Brexit deal is struck.

Mr Wells explained if a vote is held next week MPs would have their hands tied and be unable to properly assess the agreement due to the threat of a no deal exit.

He insisted this would be a huge problem as the “devil is always in the detail” with the EU.

The 70-year-old likened the process to the meaningful votes held on Theresa May’s Brexit withdrawal agreement in 2019.

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He claimed the former Prime Minster would try and run down the clock and “blackmail” MPs into supporting it.

Speaking to Express.co.uk, Mr Wells said: “There will probably be a deal that is all the signals we are reading at the moment.

“I think the most disappointing thing about all of this, if there is going to be a deal is the fact we are getting a deal at this very, very late stage.

“So essentially there is going to be no time for MPs to scrutinise what will be hundreds of pages of legal texts, as we know with the EU the devil is always in the detail.

“So I think they are talking about a vote earlier next week or maybe even boxing day, so basically MPs are going to be voting pretty much blind with a gun to their head, with obviously no deal looming over.

“Which was a familiar tactic that we saw from Mrs May with the meaningful votes that she had, she would always do that at the very last minute, right on the deadline, hoping the pressure of a no deal would blackmail MPs into voting for it.”

Mr Wells, who represented Wales in the European Parliament, insisted the Prime Minister should have stuck to the October deadline to enable a smoother exit from the bloc with or without an agreement.

The Brexiteer criticised Mr Johnson for shifting the Brexit timeline going all the way back to the summer.

Mr Wells said: “The thing is the Prime Minister has set various different deadlines there is too many to count to be honest with you, even going back to the original deadline for fishing I think was back in June or July.”

On Thursday evening, the Prime Minister held another call with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen but were unable to break the impasse.

Number 10 spokeswoman admitted negotiations had reached a “serious situation” and said it is now “very likely” the UK will leave the bloc without a formal trade deal. 

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In a statement following the discussions, Downing Street warned “time was very short” ahead of the Brexit deadline and stated no agreement would be reached unless the position of the EU “changed substantially”.

Ms von der Leyen stated there was “big differences” between the two sides and closing the gap would be “very challenging”.

She insisted talks between UK chief Brexit negotiator David Frost and Michel Barnier would resume on Friday.

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