'A hard Brexit could be made more likely because European Union leaders have failed to grasp the hardening of opinion in Britain, Latvia’s foreign minister has warned.
Edgars Rinkēvičs, who has served as the Baltic state’s chief diplomat for eight years, said a mutual gulf of understanding between London and Brussels means revising the Withdrawal Agreement before the October 31 deadline will be “extremely difficult.”
And he warned that Boris Johnson’s plan to use hard Brexit as a “credible threat” in negotiations was based on a false assumption about the European position and the speed with which the EU can move.
Speaking during a visit to London, Mr Rinkevics said: “I think that in the European Union we sometimes do not grasp that the UK, after three years of this very tortuous process, has a very hardened stance,” he told the Telegraph.
“But there is another dynamic that is not well understood here in London, which is very important for me as a representative of a small member state: it is also very important that the unity and solidarity of the European Union is not just words.
“When you have a situation where your key national interests are at stake, you count on the support of all the other 26 members. There are key national interests of Ireland at stake here - I don’t think anyone can deny that - and I believe that a very similar situation other member states would be counting on the support on all of them,” he said.
Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt, the candidates in the Conservative leadership race, have both said Britain must leave the European Union by October 31.
That will give the new prime minister just three months to negotiate a new Withdrawal Agreement after a winner is declared on July 23.'
Read more: European leaders fail to grasp 'hardening' of UK view on Brexit, Latvia warns
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