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The latest round of Brexit trade talks between David Frost and Michel Barnier ended this afternoon without a breakthrough, prompting the EU chief to concede both sides were heading for a no deal scenario at the end of the transition period on December 31. Following the talks in London, Mr Frost said “considerable gaps remain in the most difficult areas” including fishing and the so-called level-playing field on trade.
The refusal by Mr Frost to back down on the UK’s red-lines has delighted former Brexit Party MEP Rupert Lowe.
Mr Lowe wrote on Twitter: “Latest round of Brexit talks have just finished.
“Sounds like Frost is standing firm on fishing and the level-playing field. ‘Considerable gaps remain.’
“@DavidGHFrost – keep up the good work. All Brexiteers will raise a glass to you on December 31st if you can deliver!”
At a press conference, Mr Barnier took aim at the UK for the lack of progress and warned the “time for answers is quickly running out”.
He said: “By its current refusal to commit to the condition of open and fair competition, and to a balanced agreement on fisheries, the UK makes a trade agreement at this point unlikely.”
The UK is set to leave the much-hated Common Fisheries Policy and take back control of its waters at the end of the year.
On fishing, the French Europhile said the UK’s position was “simply unacceptable”.
He added: “The UK is effectively seeking for near-total exclusion of fishing vessels from the UK’s water.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson had hoped to conclude talks by the end of the month, but Mr Frost has insisted an “agreement can still be reached in September” but called for the EU to recognise it was in discussions with an “independent state”.
He said: “Despite all the difficulties, on the basis of the work we have done in July, my assessment is that agreement can still be reached in September.
“We should continue to negotiate with this aim in mind.”
Despite the doom and gloom portrayed by Mr Barnier, the UK chief negotiator confirmed progress had been made in areas including trade, transport and security.
But he insisted the UK would be prepared to abandon any trade deal if the EU did not back down on the problem areas.
Mr Frost said: “We have made progress in areas like trade, trade of goods and services, transport, social security cooperation, EU programmes, participation and so on, which is good.
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“But nevertheless big differences do remain, in particular with the familiar questions of the so-called level-playing field and fisheries policy.
“We’re in a negotiation. Either outcome is possible.
“We will work energetically to get a deal but it is possible we won’t reach one.”
Talks are now due to intensify over the summer, with the UK proposing to move into a “textual negotiation to get into the detail”.
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