Brexit: UK calls for change as EU makes trade talks pledge

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media captionMichael Gove: Not reaching a trade deal with the EU is an “outcome for which we are increasingly well prepared”.

The EU has said it is willing to “intensify” talks on a trade deal with the UK this week to try to break the impasse between the two sides.

Its negotiator Michel Barnier said the bloc was prepared to discuss all areas of disagreement, including fishing and competition, based on legal texts.

Michael Gove said he welcomed the bloc’s latest “constructive” step.

Later, No 10 said there was “no basis to resume talks” unless there was a “fundamental change” from the EU.

The UK has accused the EU of dragging its feet and failing to respect its sovereignty in the negotiations.

In a Commons statement, Cabinet Office Minister Mr Gove said his “door was not closed” to further talks but the EU needed to change its position for the process to continue.

After a call between Mr Barnier and the UK’s chief negotiator, Lord Frost, Downing Street released a statement saying the EU needed to try to find an agreement “between sovereign equals”.

On Friday, No 10 suggested formal negotiations were “over” as the EU was not serious about discussing the details of a free trade agreement similar to the one it has with Canada – the UK’s preferred outcome.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the UK should “get ready” to trade with the EU from 1 January, when it leaves the single market and customs union, without a specific agreement.

But following a video call with his UK counterpart Lord Frost on Monday, Mr Barnier said he was willing to accelerate the process in the coming days to try to bridge the gap between the two sides.

🇪🇺🇬🇧 I just spoke to @DavidGHFrost.

As stated by President @vonderleyen on Friday, I confirmed that the EU remains available to intensify talks in London this week, on all subjects, and based on legal texts.

We now wait for the UK’s reaction.

— Michel Barnier (@MichelBarnier) October 19, 2020

Mr Barnier suggested all subjects would be on the table and the discussions would be based on specific legal texts, which the UK has accused the EU of refusing to consider in recent weeks.

In response, Lord Frost tweeted that the proposal to intensify work had been noted, and added: “But the EU still needs to make a fundamental change in approach to the talks and make clear it has done so.”

Constructive discussion with @MichelBarnier today. Noted his proposal to intensify work, as we have been asking. But the EU still needs to make a fundamental change in approach to the talks and make clear it has done so. We will stay in close touch.

— David Frost (@DavidGHFrost) October 19,  »