Brussels is upping the pressure on Britain's ability to secure roll-over trade deals with dozens of countries after Brexit, refusing to help extend agreements before the legally binding Withdrawal document has been signed.
European officials have told the government that they will not ask the EUs trading partners to allow Britain to benefit from current trade deals with key countries such as Japan or South Korea until the ink is dry on the final legal text of a Brexit deal, The Times reports.
That means trade secretary Liam Fox will have less than three months to secure the continuation of Britains current free trade agreements, which could throw the country into chaos.
Britain has more than 40 EU trade agreements, accounting for more than 15 per cent of all British imports and exports.
Last December EU negotiators agreed to a UK request to write to all relevant countries to formally request that the country be considered still part of the EU during transition.
An EU official told The Times: “We will inform third countries once there is sufficient certainty about the outcome of the ongoing negotiations on the UKs withdrawal, which also cover any transitional arrangements,” they said. “This notification should take place after signature of the withdrawal agreement.”