UK says EU trade deal will be difficult if no progress before October

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain warned the European Union on Thursday that it would be difficult to conclude a Brexit free trade deal by the end of the year unless broad agreement had been reached by October.

FILE PHOTO: Michael Gove arrives at Downing Street in London, Britain February 13, 2020. REUTERS/Toby Melville

Britain left the EU on Jan. 31 but talks have so far made little headway on agreeing a new trade deal with the bloc by the time a status-quo transition arrangement ends in December.

“If we haven’t secured significant progress by October, then it will be difficult,” said Minister for the Cabinet Office Michael Gove, a Brexit supporter and one of the most influential members of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government. There was however no firm cut-off date, he added.

Talks have snagged on EU fishing access to British waters, British compliance with EU rules aimed at a level playing field and the customs arrangements for Northern Ireland.

French President Emmanuel Macron is due to hold talks with Johnson in London on Thursday.

“We’ve agreed on both sides

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