Brexit trade talks can resume if European Union changes tack, says British minister

Marco Green
October 19, 2020

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

The latest talks broke down last Thursday when the European Union said Britain needed to give ground.

With the October 15 deadline for agreement missed, Boris Johnson last week warned businesses to "get ready" for leaving without a deal after concluding that the EU's demands meant there was no point continuing talks.

The EU's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, was due in London for talks with his counterpart, David Frost, on Monday but the United Kingdom said this would be pointless without a fundamental change in direction from the bloc.

Critics say that an "Australian-style" deal is simply code for no deal at all with Britain's largest export market.

"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. "A swift deal is the single most effective way to support recovery in communities across Europe", the groups said.

The pound oscillated to Brexit news, dropping a cent against the USA dollar on Johnson's remarks but then rising before falling again on his spokesman's comments.

"If he can not provoke us to leave the table he has to do it himself".

"What we have seen and what our negotiators have found is that the European Union side have not been willing to produce the detailed legal text, they have not been willing to intensify the talks in a way that would indicate that they were acting seriously about reaching an agreement. And we should do it with great confidence", he said.

But Mr Barnier's trip to the British capital was confirmed by European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, who said: "As planned, our negotiation team will go to London next week to intensify these negotiations".

Mr Gove added: "We are taking the steps alongside business to be ready for that outcome and the other thing which is important again and our communications campaign later today will make this clear, is that the steps that business need to take, whether or not we have a Canada free trade agreement, or we leave on Australian terms, are very very similar".

Businesses, increasingly concerned about the high tariffs of a no-deal exit, called on both sides to find a compromise for a deal.

The UK officially left the European Union on January 31st and entered the Brexit transition period, which will end on December 31st.

Johnson had repeatedly asserted that his preference is for a deal but that Britain could make a success of a no-deal scenario, which would throw $900 billion in annual bilateral trade into uncertainty and could snarl the border, turning the southeastern county of Kent into a vast truck park. They said significant compromises were already in the offing.

Fisheries and the subject of a "level playing field" when it comes to state aid continue to be key sticking points in the talks.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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