Brexit talks on the brink of COLLAPSE as UK close to abandoning hope of EU trade deal
BRITAIN is close to abandoning all hope of striking a free trade deal with the European Union, according to reports.
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Senior sources in the Government have told The Daily Telegraph it is now the working assumption the UK will trade with the bloc on WTO terms after December 31. Sources said they assume “there won’t be a deal” but added that it remains possible that a “basic” agreement could be thrashed out over the coming weeks or months. The latest round of intensified talks kicked off in London this week.
Businesses across the UK have already been told to ready themselves for a hard exit from the bloc.
The Daily Telegraph quoted a senior Government source as saying the UK’s negotiating team – led by David Frost – is not willing to compromise on key issues such as access to fishing waters.
The source said: “The Government has been making it clear for a while that it is prepared for no deal.
The UK does not expect to strike a deal with the EU, sources say
Michel Barnier waves to photographers outside No10
“Britain isn’t going to budge on fundamentals like fishing rights, so it’s all in the hands of the EU.”
Another source on Mr Frost’s negotiating team was quoted as saying they had hoped to sign a deal by the end of July.
But, they claimed, the EU had made it “clear” that it could not happen.
The UK’s chief Brexit negotiator, David Frost
The source added: “No trade deal has to be the working assumption, because that’s what we have to prepare for.
“But it doesn’t mean it’s what we want or are working to make happen.”
The UK has repeatedly said it is not asking Brussels for a better deal than it has agreed with other nations.
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The Prime Minister pictured leaving No10
Michel Barnier arrives at Downing Street
However, the EU has said it will only agree to a free trade deal with certain conditions attached.
The latest twist in the Brexit saga comes after talks were intensified after the deadline for the Brexit transition period to be extended was reached.
Mr Johnson spoke with the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen in a bid to fast-track talks.
Ahead of this week’s talks, Downing Street acknowledged significant differences remained between the two sides.
They reminded the EU it is “not asking for a special, bespoke or unique deal”.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: ”In terms of the discussions that we have been having throughout the intensified process, they have continued to be constructive but significant differences still remain on a number of important issues.
“Our position on our sovereignty, laws and fisheries is clear – we will not give up our rights as an independent state.
Boris Johnson has ruled out an extension to the Brexit transition period
“We will continue to engage constructively with the EU on these key issues and will work hard to reach the broad outline of an agreement.
“But as we have been clear all along, we are not asking for a special, bespoke or unique deal.”
The areas likely to be discussed include the “level-playing field” and fisheries.
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