‘The government will decide in June whether to abandon talks with the EU and prepare for a no-deal Brexit on World Trade Organization terms.
The decision will be made if insufficient ground has been covered in talks with the EU.
The acid test will be if what it calls “good progress” has not been made on areas such as financial services and data, which the government sees as the easiest areas to negotiate.
The approach was revealed in the publication of its negotiating mandate for the talks, which begin next week.
It echoes the EU approach to sequencing negotiations in the first phase of Brexit talks, seeking to settle issues of significant importance to the UK early, over which the EU has unilateral power.
The EU has so far refused, for example, to negotiate its power to determine whether UK financial services have “equivalent” standards for its trade with the EU, or whether UK’s data regulations are adequate in terms of the flow of electronic information.
The government has also played down the prospect of doing an immediate numerical economic assessment of the introduction of new trading arrangements with the EU, although a public consultation will begin in the spring, after the formal start of negotiations.
The UK mandate emphasises the government’s wish for a trading relationship with the EU based on its existing precedents with Canada, Japan and South Korea.
It allows no jurisdiction for EU law or the European Court of Justice in the UK.
“The government will work hard to agree arrangements on these lines,” the document says.’
Read more: UK nears acid test in trade talks with EU