TALKS between the UK and EU broke up yesterday, as the two sides remained at loggerheads over a post-Brexit trade deal.
Another deadline passed, but talks were extended until tomorrow in a last ditch attempt at a deal. Tory Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on the phone about the feasibility of continuing to thrash out a deal.
Disputes over fishing and business rules are continuing, but the UK government claimed agreement was ‘still possible’ with time in ‘short supply’.
Addressing Parliament earlier in the day the Tory Paymaster General Penny Mordaunt said: ‘The UK’s negotiating team led by Lord Frost has been in talks with the EU almost everyday since the 22 October, and is working tirelessly to get a deal on our future relationship.
‘Whilst there has been some progress among many areas, familiar differences remain – on the so-called level playing field, fisheries and governance.
‘Of these, the level playing field issue is the most difficult. After an intense week of talks in London the respective chief negotiators Lord Frost and Michel Barnier issued a joint statement.
‘This outlined that the conditions for an agreement had not been met and talks should pause briefly to allow the Prime Minister and the Commission President to discuss the state of play.
‘Following their telephone call the Prime Minister and President Von de Lay issued a joint statement. This welcomed progress but noted that a deal will not be feasible if the issues on the level playing field, fisheries and governance were not resolved.
‘They agreed that further efforts should be made by the UK and the EU to assess whether the outstanding issues can be resolved.
‘We are at a critical moment in the negotiations, teams are negotiating as we speak.
‘We are all working to get a deal, but the only deal that is possible is one that is compatible with our sovereignty and takes back control of our laws, trade and our waters.
‘While an agreement is preferable we are prepared to leave on so-called Australian-style terms if we can’t find a compromise.’
Labour’s Rachel Reeves, Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, said: ‘The government must be held responsible for their failure if we are to leave without a deal.
‘We will hold the government to account whatever they bring back – a deal or no deal. We have just twenty four days to go before the end of the transition period.’