‘Time is running out!’ Chances of securing Brexit deal collapse as EU issued stern warning
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Negotiations between both sides continue in Brussels today led by Lord Frost and Michel Barnier but controversial impasses remain. An agreement was getting closer on the “level playing field” to ensure neither side could unfairly compete by eroding environmental standards, workers’ rights or state subsidies.
However, fishing policy remained a major sticking point and is seen as key to securing a trade deal.
A Whitehall source close to the negotiations told Express.co.uk the EU needed to “wake up and smell the coffee” stressing a trade deal was now “slim pickings”.
One added to Express.co.uk: “It’s a matter of respecting UK sovereignty, the EU needs to realise this now, time is running out.”
A second official admitted trade talks had been difficult adding the chances of a deal falling daily.
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The official said: “The chances of securing a deal are very slim, probably leaning towards less than a third now.”
EU diplomats also hinted a final agreement was being put together by Brussels but the UK warned it could take until after Christmas to secure a deal.
EU chiefs also claimed the latest deadline to secure a trade agreement must be by Sunday night so MEPs have time to ratify it.
Meanwhile, the House of Commons has been warned it may need to hastily return from Christmas recess to vote on a deal.
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Prime Minister Boris Johson stressed the negotiations were proving “difficult” and called on the Bloc to “see sense” and to bring something new to the table.
Mr Johnson made clear “no sensible government” could agree to a treaty which does not give the nation control of its laws and waters, two major sticking points for No 10 in the negotiations as the brinkmanship continued.
The Prime Minister added: “Our door is open, we’ll keep talking, but I have to say things are looking difficult.
“There’s a gap that needs to be bridged, the UK has done a lot to try and help and we hope that our EU friends will see sense and come to the table with something themselves because that’s really where we are.”
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EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier stressed the two sides now stand at the”moment of truth” with a “very narrow” path to securing a breakthrough as talks resumed in Brussels.
Speaking last night, he added: “We have very little time remaining, just a few hours, to work through these negotiations in useful fashion if we want this agreement to enter into force on January 1.
“There is a chance of getting an agreement but the path to such an agreement is very narrow.”
It comes as Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove, who has been in charge of the Government’s no deal planning, said the chances of an agreement remained “less than 50%”.
He told the Commons Brexit committee the “most likely outcome” was the transition period would end on December 31 without a deal.
If no trade deal is secured by December 31st, 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 the shops.
However, even if a trade deal is secured, it is expected there will be major changes at the border from January 1 with new customs checks.
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