Brexit: Ben Habib urges UK to ‘pull the plug’ on negotiations
The ITV Political Editor made the claim as talks on a post-Brexit trade deal reached an impasse over fishing. The journalist also referred to the ongoing closure of the French border for 48 hours causing disruption to trade.
The plans are part of a wider ban on international travel by EU countries due to fears over the spread of an infectious strain of coronavirus across the UK.
Taking to Twitter, Mr Peston claimed: “The closure of the French border to freight is a disaster for many UK businesses, especially so close to Christmas.
“And I imagine EU leaders are questioning why @BorisJohnson and UK did not give them advance warning of the risks of the new #Covid_19 strain.
“There must be a risk that whatever residual trust there may be in the free trade talks will be destroyed on both sides by this debacle.”
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His colleague and ITV Business Editor Joel Hills added: “This is Covid, of course, it also smacks of Brexit. This is the first time since the pandemic began that freight has been stopped in the name of public health.
“This feels like a no-deal ‘hors d’oeuvre’, courtesy of the EU.
“A taster of what may lie ahead.”
Lead negotiators Michel Barnier and Lord Frost met in Brussels on Sunday but a UK Government source said the discussions had been “difficult”.
They said “significant differences” remained over the key issues of fisheries and the so-called “level playing field rules” on state aid for business.
The European Parliament had said the talks needed to be concluded by Sunday evening if it was to ratify any deal before the current Brexit transition ends on December 31.
However, if there was to be a deal, under EU rules it could be provisionally signed off by leaders of the 27-member bloc with ratification delayed until 2021.
But when asked if there was a possible Brexit element in the travel restrictions by the Continent, a reminder of how vulnerable the UK might be in the event of a no-deal, the Prime Minister’s spokesman denied this.
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He added this lunchtime: “We’re continuing to work closely with our international partners, as is the case throughout the pandemic there have been different travel restrictions imposed around the world.
“We recently suspended travel from Denmark (due) to a new variant being discovered there. Country-specific travel restrictions and public health measures are a matter for each individual country.”
If there is no deal by December 31, the UK will leave the single market and customs union and begin trading with the EU on World Trade Organisation terms – with the imposition of tariffs potentially leading to higher prices in shops.
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