No Brexit trade talks unless European Union ‘fundamentally changes’ its stance

Daniel Fowler
October 22, 2020

Sterling jumped to a one-week high against the USA dollar on Wednesday after the European Union's Brexit negotiator said on Wednesday that a new trade deal with Britain was "within reach".

Since last Friday there have been signals from negotiator Michel Barnier that the European Union is ready to intensify talks on the basis of legal texts, but the green light to continue talks had not yet come. It is entirely possible that negotiations will not succeed. They remain divided over fishing rights, government subsidies to businesses and other issues.

It means the two sides will move to "intensive" negotiations on a draft legal text for a deal.

"It does look like we have had a bit of movement from our partners in the European Union, negotiations are starting again, that is a cause for hope but at the same time we are getting quite close to the deadline".

Both sides had previously said a deal would need to be reached by mid-October in order to allow time for ratification.

Barnier's acknowledgement that it was up to both sides to make concessions was a key demand of Britain, as was the commitment to work from legal documents on all topics, something the Europeans had so far not done.

The development comes days after Johnson threatened to walk away from the talks unless he got clarity that an agreement can be reached.

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As a result it is expected that 400 betting shops and 12 casinos that employ 3,000 people will be forced to close their doors. The measures impact 1,031 pubs in the Liverpool City Region, 1,127 across Lancashire and now, 1,809 in Greater Manchester .

The negotiations had been in limbo after Prime Minister Boris Johnson's previous deadline for a deal passed last week.

But Wednesday's conversation appeared to have been more fruitful.

A Number 10 spokesman said: "We welcome the fact that Barnier acknowledged both points... and additionally that movement would be needed from both sides in the talks if agreement was to be reached".

Mr Barnier said, "We want a deal that will be mutually beneficial to both parties in respect of the autonomy and sovereignty of both sides".

"We note with interest that the EU's negotiator, speaking to the European parliament this morning, has commented in a significant way on the issues behind the current difficulties in our talks", said a United Kingdom government spokesman. We have jointly agreed a set of principles for handling this intensified phase of talks.

That will give time for the agreement to be ratified in the 10 weeks before the end of the year and the Brexit transition period and so avoid no deal.

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