Get on with it! Our Brexit chief tells EU he wants deal by summer… as he starts new job
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The pair met in Brussels a day after the Prime Minister announced that Mr Frost will take up a new Downing Street role in August. He will replace outgoing civil service chief Sir Mark Sedwill as National Security Adviser. The promotion, confirmed before the Brexit talks have been resolved, took European diplomats by surprise.
It was being seen as a stark reminder that Mr Johnson will walk away from the discussions if a deal cannot be done this summer.
A UK Government spokesman said: “David Frost will remain chief negotiator for the EU talks until an agreement is reached or until the talks end – this will remain his first priority.
“As we have made clear, we do not wish for these talks to run on into the autumn.”
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman added: “Prior to this announcement, we have already been very clear with the EU that the talks need to be concluded sooner rather than later. The talks cannot go on forever. We need to make sure businesses can prepare properly for what will happen at the end of the year.
“If negotiations go on too long into the autumn then they won’t know what to prepare for.”
Mr Frost, head of Downing Street’s Task Force Europe, leads a team of 20 negotiators during this week’s round of talks, the first since Mr Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen agreed to accelerate the process.
Accompanied by Sir Tim Barrow, the UK’s ambassador to the EU, he met Mr Barnier at the European Commission’s Berlaymont headquarters in Brussels.
The two sides will hold separate sessions across five days in a bid to break the deadlock.
Over five negotiating rounds, the EU has refused to budge from its hardline demands for a regulatory level-playing field, a role for the European Court of Justice and continued access to Britain’s fishing waters.
After the first day of talks Mr Barnier said: “We will make the most of our intensified talks over the coming weeks. Our goal is a comprehensive future relationship with the UK.
“The EU remains calm and united in its principles and values.”
The UK has until today to request an extension of up to two years to the current post-Brexit transition period.
But Mr Frost reaffirmed we would be leaving the EU’s single market and customs union at the end of the year.
And the Prime Minister’s spokesman added: “The EU has also accepted there is not going to be any extension of the transition period.”
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