Friday, 22 October 2021

UK, EU to discuss ‘structure’ of Brexit talks after walkout threat


LONDON: European and British negotiators will be in touch Monday to discuss the “structure” of post-Brexit trade talks, despite London s threat on Friday to walk away unless there was a major shift in Brussels  approach.

An EU spokesman tweeted that chief negotiator Michel Barnier held video talks with his British counterpart David Frost on Friday after the results of European summit provoked an angry response in London.

Britain Prime Minister Boris Johnson said there was no point in holding any more talks without a dramatic softening of the EU s position, bringing a step closer the possibility that the planned divorce at the end of the year will end acrimoniously.

“As far as we re concerned the trade talks are over,” Johnson s official spokesman told reporters after an EU summit Thursday proposed a fresh round of talks next week in London, while demanding Britain give ground on key stumbling blocks.

“The EU have effectively ended them, and only if the EU fundamentally changes its position will it be worth talking,” he added.

Johnson, accusing the 27-nation bloc of failing “to negotiate seriously” in recent months, said the summit outcome had ruled out a comprehensive, Canada-style free trade agreement between the EU and Britain.

“They want the continued ability to control our legislative freedom, our fisheries, in a way that is obviously unacceptable to an independent country,” he said.

“And so with high hearts and complete confidence, we will prepare to embrace the alternative,” Johnson said, adding Britain should “get ready” to operate on stripped-down World Trade Organization rules from January.

But EU spokesman Daniel Ferrie later said that both negotiators “agreed to talk again on Monday to discuss the structure” of future talks.

The prime minster’s comments weighed on the British pound on currency markets.

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