Sunday, 6 Dec 2020

New hope for Brexit trade deal 'within weeks' as talks resume

New hope for Brexit trade deal ‘within weeks’ as talks resume after EU climbdown on Boris’s demands – but Brussels officials sneer that they are just ‘making it look like he’s won’

  • Post-Brexit trade talks between the UK and the EU will resume in London today 
  • Talks restarting after the UK accepted an olive branch from EU’s Michel Barnier 
  • Standoff ended after EU admitted there needs to be ‘compromises on both sides’
  • EU officials privately believe Boris Johnson’s threat to walk away was ‘theatrics’ 

Post-Brexit trade talks will restart today amid hopes of a deal being agreed by mid-November as it was claimed the EU’s negotiating strategy is to try to make it look like Boris Johnson has won.  

Discussions will get back underway between Brussels and Britain in London, bringing to an end a stand off between the two sides which has lasted for a week. 

Negotiations were paused by the Prime Minister on Friday last week after the EU refused to budge and he formally triggered preparations for a no trade deal split. 

But an olive branch from Michel Barnier was yesterday accepted by Downing Street as the EU’s chief negotiator finally admitted there needs to be ‘compromises on both sides’.

The talks will get back under way against a backdrop of claims that the EU never actually believed the PM was serious about walking away from the negotiating table. 

Trade talks between the EU and the UK will get back underway in London today after Michel Barnier admitted there will need to be ‘compromises on both sides’ for a deal to be done

The resumption of talks came amid claims that the EU’s negotiating strategy is to make it appear that Boris Johnson has won so he can sell the deal to hardline Tory Brexiteers

EU officials told Bloomberg they were relaxed about Mr Johnson’s tough talk because they believed it was necessary for him to be able to sell a deal to hardline Tory Brexiteers. 

Figures in Brussels were said to have viewed the decision to pause the talks as ‘theatrics’, with the bloc apparently now focused on how it can help Mr Johnson to get an agreement over the line with his Eurosceptic MPs.

One senior diplomat said the EU cares more about getting a deal than being seen to have won the negotiations. 

The two sides are expected to hold intensive talks until Sunday with mid-November now seen as a potential landing spot for a deal to be agreed. 

That would give both sides just enough time to ratify and implement the agreement before the end of the post-Brexit standstill transition period in December.  

The EU has agreed to intensify the talks – a key UK demand – with negotiations expected to take place almost every day and over weekends in the coming weeks.   

However, while hopes of a deal being struck have increased, there still remain major stumbling blocks which will have to be overcome. 

The biggest point of contention is still post-Brexit fishing rights with neither side confident of finding a route to a suitable compromise. 

There are growing fears that Emmanuel Macron’s hardline stance on the issue could yet sink the entire talks as he sticks to his demand that French fishermen maintain their current levels of access to British waters.

Downing Street is adamant that UK trawlers will be given priority access after the end of the transition period.      

Number 10 announced yesterday afternoon that Britain was ‘ready to welcome the EU team to London to resume negotiations’ after almost a week of discussions being on hold.  

The Government said while ‘significant gaps remain’ between the two sides ‘in the most difficult areas’ it is willing ‘to see if it is possible to bridge them in intensive talks’.

However, Number 10 also warned ‘it takes two to reach an agreement’ and it is ‘entirely possible that negotiations will not succeed’. 

The decision to restart formal trade negotiations came after Mr Barnier finally admitted there will have to be ‘compromises on both sides’ for a deal to be agreed.  

He told the European Parliament he believed an ‘agreement is within reach’ but warned ‘time is running out’ as the clock ticks down to the end of the transition period. 

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