UK Says Door Remains 'Ajar' for Post-Brexit Trade Deal

Elias Hubbard
October 18, 2020

However, at a briefing for journalists in Westminster, the Prime Minister's official spokesman said the negotiations were now "over".

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.

Senior Brexiteers praised the move, with John Redwood, the former trade secretary, claiming: "The UK will prosper more with no deal than with a bad deal".

On Friday evening, an European Union spokesman tweeted that chief negotiator Michel Barnier held video talks with his British counterpart David Frost and that negotiators from both sides will be in touch on Monday for further discussions on the "structure" of talks.

In a blistering attack, insiders accused European Union negotiators led by Michel Barnier of using the meetings to "shore up their domestic position" - with particular criticism levelled at French President Emmanuel Macron.

An aide to the United Kingdom leader later ramped up the rhetoric further by adding that trade talks were over unless Brussels "fundamentally shifts its position".

Failure to strike a deal would see Britain and Europe revert to World Trade Organization terms.

On Friday, the Prime Minister's official spokesman said there was "no point" in Mr Barnier travelling to London unless the 27 European Union member states were willing to alter their position or wanted to discuss sector by sector arrangements to prepare for no deal.

"From the outset, we were totally clear that we wanted nothing more complicated than a Canada-style relationship based on friendship and free trade", Johnson said at the time.

European Council President Charles Michel is seen at a special EU Council summit in Brussels.

"At the same time they have insisted we accept a level of control over our autonomy that an independent country can't really accept and that they should have exactly the same access to our fishing waters".

"Neither side can afford to fall at the final fence".

The Cabinet Office minister said the EU's behaviour suggested it was not "serious" about an agreement although he hoped one was still possible.

Business leaders are already anxious about the prospect of a no deal, warning it would have a "devastating impact" on jobs across the board.

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

German chancellor Angela Merkel has called for compromise on both sides but French president Emmanuel Macron warned he would not allow French fishermen to be "sacrificed" for the sake of a deal.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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