Brexit trade deal still possible despite tumultuous week, says Downing Street
Written by on 11 September 2020
Downing Street is calling for “more realism” from the EU in trade negotiations but believes a post-Brexit trade deal is still possible despite a tumultuous week.
The EU had threatened legal action against the UK and told Mr Johnson to ditch proposed legislation by the end of the month.
But the government refused to budge and claimed its UK Internal Market Bill is “critical” to ensuring the unfettered access for goods from Northern Ireland to the rest of the UK.
Meanwhile, discussions on a future trade deal continued to stall, with both the UK and EU chief negotiators reporting there are still “significant” differences in key areas at the conclusion of the eighth round of negotiations this week.
However, Downing Street on Friday insisted a UK-EU trade deal could still be struck.
The prime minister’s official spokesman said: “We have engaged constructively with the EU throughout this process.
“We have negotiated in good faith and we will continue to do so.
“We do still believe that there is a deal to be reached. We will work hard to achieve it.
“What we have been asking for is for more realism on the EU side about what it means for the UK to have left the EU and to once again be a sovereign nation.”
The UK and EU will resume trade negotiations in Brussels next week, with a senior UK negotiating official describing the latest talks as “relatively more constructive than you might expect”.
“But ultimately progress will be determined by whether we get more realism from them on the key areas of divergence,” they said.
“Whilst we are beginning to get discussions of substance of some issues, big important areas remain unresolved. We will carry on talking in Brussels next week.
“On subsidies we are asking that the EU agree with us what they have agreed with so many others in this area.
“Despite their insistence to the contrary, on fisheries their position is still a long way from the huge change we need to get an agreement.”
Following this week’s discussions, EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier called for “more clarity” for the UK to receive the “third-country listing” it needs to export animal products to the EU.
The UK negotiating team expressed surprise at the comments, with the UK currently employing EU standards.
A government spokesman said: “The right to export is the absolute basis for a relationship between two countries that trade agricultural goods.
“It is a licence to export and entirely separate from the issue of food standards. It would be very unusual for the EU to go down this route and deny the UK listing.”