Why the Brexit trade talks are still far from over

Elias Hubbard
October 17, 2020

Asked if he was walking away from talks, Johnson said: "If there's a fundamental change of approach, of course we always willing to listen, but it didn't seem particularly encouraging from the summit in Brussels".

The Prime Minister on Friday accused European leaders of having "abandoned the idea of a free trade deal" and told the country to "get ready" for a no-deal outcome in the negotiations after his October 15 deadline for reaching an agreement passed.

During the call to Johnson on the eve of the crunch talks, European Union chief Ursula von der Leyen warned that there was "still a lot of work ahead of us", adding that Brussels wants a deal but "not at any price". "There were none for the withdrawal agreements, there are none for the future relations, but unanimous support for our negotiator Michel Barnier", Macron said.

The pair, however, pledged to speak "early next week" in an indication that hopes of talks continuing have not been entirely extinguished, despite Downing Street telling reporters the negotiations were now "over".

However, the Prime Minister's official spokesman said the negotiations were now "over". "The negotiators will be back at the table on Monday, I think, and will try to crack this thing as soon as possible".

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Friday that the United Kingdom must prepare for a no-deal break with the European Union unless there is a "fundamental" change of position from the bloc, as the two sides swapped blame for failing to strike a deal with just weeks until the end-of-year deadline.

But EU leaders interpreted his tough talk as mostly bluster.

Sebastien Galy, a macro strategist at Nordea, said Johnson was "likely to call an end to negotiations with the European Union".

Australia has no comprehensive trade deal with the EU.

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"I have concluded that we should get ready for January 1 with arrangements that are more like Australia's based on simple principles of global free trade", Johnson said.

"That was pretty clear from the conclusions of the summit". They don't want to go any further. "It can either fundamentally change position or we will leave on Australian terms, under which we will prosper", Johnson's spokesman added.

The insistence of France and other northern fishing nations on maintaining access to British waters has been a key stumbling block in the talks so far. The two sides have been trying to strike a deal on trade and other relations before then, and say in practice it must be agreed this month if it is to be ratified by year's end. "So they will", the diplomat said.

"Neither side can afford to fall at the final fence". It is the second time she has had to quarantine.

Businesses on both sides have been warning against a no-deal Brexit, which would severely impact their ability to continue to function in a smooth manner after 45 years of close UK-EU alignment.

Prime Minister Johnson blames European Union intransigence for the latest stalemate, while his critics accuse him and his Cabinet of being closet No Dealers all along.

He would probably be prepared to sacrifice a big slice of British fishing rights as well as sovereignty over state aid, especially in return for unrestricted City of London "passporting" rights in Europe's financial markets.

European Council President Charles Michel said the EU would decide whether talks should continue in the coming days, based on the UK's next move. But No.10 said: 'It's not for schools to regularly provide food to pupils during holidays.' Rashford, 22, replied: 'It's also not for food banks to feed millions of British children but here we are'.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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