Iain Duncan Smith said the Government should not put up with any more “mealymouthed utterances and threatening statements” from EU chiefs.
The former Cabinet minister urged Mrs May to call Brussels’ bluff and threaten to walk out on the Brexit talks unless negotiations on trade start by December.
“We are not supplicants begging for favours from the EU,” he said.
Tensions increased over the deadlock yesterday when EU Council President Donald Tusk claimed the Prime Minister’s recent Brexit speech in Florence had not done enough to advance the negotiations any further.
Mr Duncan Smith urged Mrs May to call Brussels’ bluff
We are not supplicants begging for favours from the EU
“I would say there is no sufficient progress yet,” the senior Eurocrat said.
EU negotiators led by senior Brussels diplomat Michel Barnier are refusing to open talks on a future trade relationship between Britain and the EU until “significant progress” has been made on the size of a multibillion divorce fee and other issues.
In her speech in Italy last week, the Prime Minister clarified her offer to the EU by proposing a two-year “implementation period” after Brexit and a payment of around £18billion.
But to the fury of Tory Brexiteers, Mr Barnier and now Mr Tusk are still demanding more detail about her plan.
Mr Duncan Smith said Britain wanted a deal that suited both sides
Mr Duncan Smith’s dramatic intervention last night was a signal that the patience of Eurosceptic Tory MPs with the stuttering progress in the Brexit negotiations is wearing thin.
He used an article on the ConservativeHome website for Tory activists to voice his frustration at Brussels negotiators.
“The arrogant behaviour of the EU so far, bordering on the deliberately offensive, is a bluff that we need to call,” he said.
“After all, the UK is the fourth largest economy in the world, with the third most potent armed forces and a global reach in terms of trade and cooperation that is second to none.
“If they want to behave in this manner towards an ally and friend who has been a member of the EU for 40 years, and is the second largest economy in the EU, then it were best we established this now. Now that the Prime Minister has made her speech indicating that the UK meets our financial obligations, the EU has to respond. Instead of making mealymouthed utterances and threatening statements, they need to start the negotiations on trade.
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“To make this happen, we need to put some pressure on them,” he added.
He called for “strong Cabinet leadership” to “make it clear that we are going to throw resources at the plans for leaving the EU without an agreement”.
And he said ministers “need to up the pace dramatically” with regular updates.
He added: “We need to say to the EU that we expect it to respond to the Florence speech with a guarantee that we will now discuss a trade agreement.
“We should say that the EU has to make that decision by December – or we will assume they do not intend to do so, and that we must make the necessary arrangements to leave without a deal.
Mrs May met Mr Tusk for around an hour of talks in Downing Street
“We should not now accept any answer from the EU other than that we will now start discussions on trade.”
Mr Duncan Smith said Britain wanted a deal that suited both sides.
He also urged the Government not to heed the “bleating” of business groups pressing for a delay in the talks and insisted it was “critical” that Britain stuck to the timetable of quitting the EU in March 2019 or “many people will feel they have been misled”.
He was backed last night by Tory MEP David Campbell Bannerman, who said: “The EU’s pompous and tardy response to the Government’s generous offer must lead to the UK suspending talks.”
Mrs May met Mr Tusk for around an hour of talks in Downing Street yesterday as the British and EU negotiating teams were wrangling in the fourth round of talks in Brussels.
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As he left Downing Street, the EU Council President said he felt “cautiously optimistic” about the Brussels negotiations following Mrs May’s speech but still claimed more details were needed from the UK Government.
He took a swipe at Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who EU leaders have accused of “wanting to have his cake and eat it”.
Mr Tusk said: “This shows that the philosophy of having a cake and eating it is finally at an end, at least I hope so. That’s good news.”
While posing for photographs with Mr Tusk at the beginning of the Downing Street meeting, Mrs May said the two leaders agreed that “things have moved on” in the Brexit process.
Following the talks, a Number 10 spokesman said: “At the end of the meeting, the Prime Minister said her Florence speech had been intended to create momentum in the ongoing talks. She said it was important for EU negotiators to now respond in the same spirit.”