Frost ordered German ambassador to ‘explain content’ of furious tweet in crunch meeting

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Andreas Michaelis was summoned by Boris Johnson’s Brexit frontman to an “interview without coffee” hours after he tweeted about the “profound deterioration” of trade discussions. In a tweet “liked” by more than 23,000 people, he said both the UK and the EU should strive to salvage the failing talks.

He wrote on Twitter: “In more than 30 years as a diplomat I have not experienced such a fast, intentional and profound deterioration of a negotiation.

“If you believe in partnership between the UK and the EU like I do then don’t accept it.”

His words seemed to anger Lord Frost, who on Thursday met with Michel Barnier in London for the eighth round of talks.

Britain’s chief negotiator called Mr Michaelis to see him at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Developmental Office in Whitehall shortly after the tweet went viral.

Mr Michaelis said: “I can confirm, David Frost asked me into the FCDO for a meeting today.

“During a friendly discussion, of which we have had many before, he invited me to explain the content and context of my tweet.

“And this is what I did – we want negotiations to succeed.”

Lord Frost will meet Mr Barnier in Brussels next week to continue trade talks as scheduled.

In a statement, he said: “A number of challenging areas remain and the divergences on some are still significant.”

An emergency meeting of the co-chairs of the EU-UK Joint Committee was held in London on Thursday.

Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove and European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic discussed the controversial Internal Market Bill.

Mr Sefcovic gave the UK one month to withdraw elements of the proposed legislation, a request which Mr Gove said the Government could not and would not honour.

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The bill risks overriding parts of the Withdrawal Agreement (WA) which the Prime Minister signed with the EU in January.

There were gasps in the House of Commons this week when Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis admitted the bill would breach international law.

European diplomats said Britain was playing a game of Brexit “chicken”, threatening to wreck the process and challenging Brussels to change course.

One EU source said Britain would not succeed if it tried to use the planned breach of the withdrawal agreement as a threat to extract concessions from the bloc in trade talks.

The source said: “If they try to do that, it will fail.”

Goldman Sachs said it expected “the perceived probability of a breakdown in negotiations to escalate over the coming weeks”.

However, its base case remains a “thin” free trade agreement that steers both sides back from the brink.

Without a trade agreement, billions of pounds in trade between the EU and Britain could be thrown into confusion at the start of 2021.

The turmoil would come on top of the severe economic blow the coronavirus pandemic has inflicted.

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