Germany tells Britain to ‘stop playing games’, time running out for deal

Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel
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BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Germany’s Europe Minister Michael Roth urged Britain on Tuesday to drop plans for a bill that would break the country’s obligations to the European Union under its withdrawal treaty as time was running out to clinch an EU-Britain trade deal.

Speaking to reporters ahead of a meeting of EU ministers in Brussels that is to prepare a summit of EU leaders later this week, Roth said he was “extremely worried” by London’s plans to pass an internal market bill that would break international law.

“Please, dear friends in London, stop the games, time is running out, what we really need is a fair basis for further negotiations and we are ready for that,” Roth said.

The bill is expected to pass through the lower chamber of parliament next week and has thrown talks on a trade agreement between Britain and the EU into chaos as it undermines Britain’s willingness to honour international deals.

“The so-called internal market bill extremely worries us because it violates the guiding principles of the withdrawal agreement. And that is totally unacceptable for us,” Roth said.

He said the EU was “really, really disappointed” about the results of the trade negotiations, which have become stuck on the issue of EU fishermen’s access to British waters, fair competition between EU and British companies and a mechanism to resolve disputes in the future.

Roth said EU ministers on Tuesday would state their strong support for the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier and his team and re-affirm a strong commitment to a fair trade deal based on trust and confidence.