Post-Brexit trade talks at a very difficult point – No 10

Publishedduration20 minutes ago

Talks to reach a post-Brexit trade deal with the EU are at a “very difficult point”, Downing Street has said.

State aid subsidies, fishing and enforcement of new rules remain the key sticking points in negotiations.

If a deal is not agreed by 31 December, the two sides will trade on World Trade Organization rules, meaning the introduction of taxes on imports.

The UK has accused the EU of making last minute demands – a claim denied by the EU’s negotiators.

Boris Johnson’s spokesman said the government was “committed to working hard to try and reach agreement” but emphasised that the UK couldn’t “agree a deal that doesn’t allow us to take back control”.

He added that “time is in very short supply and we are at a very difficult point in talks”.

The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier – who has cancelled a planned return to Brussels to continue negotiations – told reporters earlier that it was “an important day”.

He had been due to brief EU member state ambassadors about the talks but this has been cancelled and a European Commission spokesperson said “a full day of negotiations” is taking place in London.

Meanwhile, France’s Europe minister, Clement Beaune, warned that his country could “veto” a deal if it did not satisfy their demands.

Brexit – The basics

  • Brexit happened but rules didn’t change at once: The UK left the European Union on 31 January 2020, but leaders needed time to negotiate a deal for life afterwards – they got 11 months.
  • Talks are happening: The UK and the EU have until 31 December 2020 to agree a trade deal as well as other things, such as fishing rights.
  • If there is no deal: Border checks and taxes will be introduced for goods travelling between the UK and the EU. But deal or no deal, we will still see changes.

Both the European and UK Parliaments would need to approve any deal before it can be implemented.

And the 27 EU national parliaments could also need to ratify an agreement – depending on the actual contents of the deal.

The thorniest issues are now being grasped

With Brexit, talks don’t just go to the wire. They go beyond it.

Remember, the UK left the EU nearly a year after it was intended. So the fact it’s taking this long to reach a trade deal shouldn’t come as a shock.

But there really is pressure in the next few days to declare “deal or no deal”.

On Monday, the Internal Market Bill returns to the Commons. It would allow the UK to sidestep aspects of the agreement that was reached to leave the EU – and break international law in a “limited and specific way”.

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