A DOWNING Street plan to set the pace in the EU trade negotiation by publishing the text of a draft deal has been shelved.
Boris Johnson’s chief adviser David Frost had wanted to try to gain the upper hand in the tense talks by forcing Brussels to work to Britain’s blueprint.
The plan was devised after the EU stole a march on the UK in the exit deal negotiation by being the first to flesh out detailed terms.
Officials from across a series of Whitehall departments have already drawn up legal text for the complex project over the last two months, The Sun has learned.
But the Exit Strategy committee of senior Cabinet ministers, chaired by the PM, decided to halt the plan after opting for a different strategy.
Britain’s negotiating cards are instead being kept close to its chest so as not to give the EU any pointers on Boris’s bottom lines, and detailed arguments have been stripped out of all government pronouncements for now.
A Whitehall source said: “The XS Committee decided it was better to give nothing away at the moment. A time might come to publish a legal text first, but not yet.
“There are also still some policy disagreements that need to be resolved across Government across the full trade and security package. Not all the decisions have been made yet.”
The all-important negotiation formally begins in just two weeks time at the start of March.
So far, the Government has remained tight lipped and not gone beyond general principles.
The PM’s chief EU negotiator David Frost last night told an audience in Brussels that Downing Street next week set out “how we see the shape of the future relationship in more detail”, but that will not be a draft text, sources added.
In stark contrast, the EU’s draft mandate, published two weeks ago, ran to 167 paragraphs, spread over 33 pages.