‘Playing with fire!’ Austrian politicians lash out at Boris in extraordinary attack

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Angelika Winzig, the Austrian People’s Party (OVP) delegation leader, and fellow OVP MEP Lukas Mandl turned the finger of blame for the stalled trade negotiations on the Prime Minister. The pair warned a no-deal Brexit would have worse consequences for the UK than for the bloc in comments carried by brandaktuell.at.

They said: “British Prime Minister Johnson is literally playing with fire in negotiations on the EU’s future relationship with Britain.

“If he is still not ready to talk about concrete and serious content, then the end of the year will end badly for both sides – worse for Great Britain than for the EU.”

Their harsh criticism of Mr Johnson’s handling of the discussions comes ahead of a vote in the European Parliament later today.

MEPs wil vote on a resolution with recommendations of the European Parliament for further trade negotiations.

Ms Winzig, who represents the OVP on the trade committee of the European Parliament, urged Mr Johnson to “face the facts”.

She said the British could not simply “cherry-pick” things they wanted to include in a deal while leaving other issues to the side.

She also said the EU would not be “blackmailed” by the UK’s negotiating team, led by David Frost.

The MEP said: “Johnson must finally face the facts and stand by his word.

“For me, political leadership means that you fulfill the commitments that you signed in the Brexit agreement.

“There must be no cherry picking, and the EU cannot be blackmailed.”

She went on to reiterate Michel Barnier’s call for a “level-playing field” saying the bloc would not accept unfair competition from a former member.

She added: “Close trade relations between Great Britain and the EU can only be based on equivalent standards.

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“If London does not want that, there will be no agreement.

“We will not accept any form of distortion of competition or barriers to trade.”

Mr Mandl also adopted a deeply scornful tone.

He accused Britain of making up excuses to try to get out of key demands.

He said: “What the UK government needs to understand is that we expect adequate social and environmental standards from the UK as a condition of free trade.

“That doing so would prevent trade with the USA, I believe, is an excuse.”

He also urged the UK’s negotiating team to lay their cards on the table, indicating that he did not believe they had already done so.erg.

In a joint statement with Ms Winzig, they added: “But now the British have to put their cards on the table and make acceptable proposals, always being against the EU’s proposals is no longer enough.

“Johnson himself increased the time pressure dramatically because he did not extend the transition period. He has burned his fingers several times while playing with the proverbial fire.

“But this time he could do serious damage to his entire country, which will be difficult to repair. ”

Additional reporting by Monika Pallenb

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