Stalemate in Brexit talks

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The latest round of Brexit negotiations with the EU have ended in stalemate, with Michel Barnier launching a blistering attack upon the UK. 

Barnier claimed that the UK is refusing to extend its “transition period” and accused the government of “slowing down” discussions.

Barnier said at a press conference on Friday: “We cannot accept selective progress on a limited set of issues only. We need to find solutions on the most difficult topics.

"The UK cannot refuse to extend the transition period and at the same time slow down discussions on important areas.”

He said the UK “failed to engage substantially” on issues such as a future trade deal and that “we made no progress on fisheries”.

Barnier added: “We both want a close relationship here but we face problems – the UK refuses to provide firm guarantees rather than vague principles on fundamental rights and individual freedoms.”

David Frost, the UK's Chief Negotiator said:

"If we are to make progress now, we need to focus on agreeing a future relationship that has a comprehensive FTA at its core, like those the EU has agreed elsewhere.

"We support high standards. But there is no need for novel and unprecedented "level playing field" rules, for example tying us to EU laws, or a role for the EU Court. What the EU proposes is unlike anything agreed in other such FTAs and we will not agree to it here.

"Finally, we are ready to work to agree a fisheries agreement which reflects our rights under international law to control our own waters, & provides for annual negotiations over access based on scientific principles. We won't agree to continuing the Common Fisheries Policy."

A UK Government spokesperson said:
 
“This was a full and constructive negotiating round, conducted remotely by video conference, and with a full range of discussions across all the issues, on the basis of the extensive legal texts provided by both sides in recent weeks.

“However, limited progress was made in bridging the gaps between us and the EU.  

“Our assessment is that there was some promising convergence in the core areas of a Free Trade Agreement, for example on goods and services trade, and related issues such as energy, transport, and civil nuclear cooperation. 
 
“We regret however that the detail of the EU’s offer on goods trade falls well short of recent precedent in FTAs it has agreed with other sovereign countries.
 
“This considerably reduces the practical value of the zero tariff zero quota aspiration we both share.
 
“There are also significant differences of principle in other areas. For example we will not make progress on the so called "level playing field" and the governance provisions until the EU drops its insistence on imposing conditions on the UK which are not found in the EU’s other trade agreements and which do not take account of the fact that we have left the EU as an independent state.
 
“On fisheries, the EU's mandate appears to require us to accept a continuance of the current quotas agreed under the Common Fisheries Policy. We will only be able to make progress here on the basis of the reality that the UK will have the right to control access to its waters at the end of this year.
 
“We now need to move forward in a constructive fashion. The UK remains committed to a deal with a Free Trade Agreement at its core. We look forward to negotiating constructively in the next Round beginning on 11 May and to finding a balanced overall solution which reflects the political realities on both sides.”

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Cleator Moor | Cumbria: Little Ireland: Stalemate in Brexit talks
Stalemate in Brexit talks
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Cleator Moor | Cumbria: Little Ireland
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