European parliaments will block any Brexit deal that allows the UK to diverge too far from EU standards, Michel Barnier has warned.
The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator said on Monday any trade agreement would require Britain to stick to a “European model”.
It comes as Theresa May has been warned voters will “go bananas” if she agrees to pay Brussels a £40bn divorce bill.
Speaking at the Centre for European Reform in Brussels, Barnier said the EU was ready to offer its “most ambitious” free trade agreement with the UK.
But he added: “The UK has chosen to leave the EU. Does it want to stay close to the European model. Or does it want to gradually move away from it?
“The UK’s reply to this question will be very important and even decisive, because it will shape the discussion on our future relationship.
“And shape also the conditions for ratifications of that partnership in many national parliaments and obviously in the European Parliament.”
The EU has said it will not move on to agreeing any future trade deal until the UK agrees to settle its financial commitments.
May met with key Cabinet ministers who oversee Brexit talks today to discuss the so-called ‘Brexit bill’.
Robert Halfon, a former vice-chairman of the Conservative Party, said voters would not understand a large sum of money being handed over.
He told BBC Radio 4′s Westminster Hour on Sunday evening: “Well we’ve just been talking about budget constraints, and the difficulty the chancellor has in public spending, and if we start saying that we’re going to give 40 to 50 billion to the EU, I think the public will go bananas, absolutely spare.
“I voted remain because I believe in alliances of democracies in an uncertain world, but we voted to leave, the public want to leave, and I cannot believe that the public would accept such a huge amount when we need money for our schools, our hospitals, our housing, and many other things.
He added: “So I think that is going to be very difficult if it is going to be that sum, amount of money.”