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The government figure, who has knowledge of talks between the UK and EU, said they are confident of a last-minute deal between both sides. They told Sky News: “Last time it was no deal, no deal right until the end, and then suddenly at the last minute the PM flies to Brussels there was a deal.
“The EU needs a deal too.”
Professor Catherine Barnard, EU expert from the University of Cambridge, said it would be legally difficult to extend the transition later in the year, but a “magnificent fudge” by EU and UK lawyers could be possible.
The comments come after Remainers hopes of a Brexit delay were dashed by Boris Johnson’s minister who has declared no case for a humiliating extension.
Number 10 believe fears over a no deal Brexit are “almost irrelevant” as the global economy already comes up against the challenges of the coronavirus crisis, according to insiders.
A minister said: “No deal Brexit was going to be the biggest thing to happen to our economy until three months ago. Now it’s almost irrelevant.
“That’s certainly part of the Brexit calculation if we’re going to see 10-15 percent wiped off our GDP anyway.
“Politically there’s no case for extension, it looks humiliating and angers Boris’s natural supporters.”
The fourth round of talks between Britain and the EU on a post-Brexit trade deal came to an end on Friday amid little sign of progress.
The four days of negotiations marked the final opportunity for the two sides to move the process forward before a potentially make-or-break high-level summit later this month.
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The UK has until the end of June to seek an extension to the current transition period – which finishes at the end of the year – to allow more time for discussions, something Prime Minister Boris Johnson has vowed he will not do.
The latest talks got off to an unpromising start with a series of testy exchanges between London and Brussels before the official online negotiations had begun.
The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier publicly accused the UK of backtracking on previously agreed commitments, warning that the EU would not sign up to a deal “at any cost”.
Downing Street hit back charging the EU with making a series of “unbalanced” demands binding the UK to EU laws and standards to an unprecedented degree for a trade deal.
The two sides are also deadlocked over fisheries, with the UK resisting EU demands for continued long-term access to British waters.
Mr Barnier told a Brussels press conference: “My responsibility is to speak to truth and to tell the truth this week there have been no significant areas of progress.
“On fisheries, the UK have not shown any true will to explore other approaches beyond zonal attachment for the sharing of quotas.
“They continue to condition access to waters to an annual negotiation which is not possible for us – not even technically possible.”
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