Boris Johnson’s Brexit lead negotiator David Frost has rushed to Brussels for crunch Brexit trade deal talks with his EU counterpart Michael Barnier with a provoking warning from France both sides seriously work to seal a deal.
David Frost and Michel Barnier have made progress during talks in London this week towards resolving some of the biggest issues thus far, raising hopes a deal can be agreed by early November. Both sides have started work on the text of an agreement on the level playing field and are edging closer to finalising a joint document covering state aid.
The UK and EU have also moved closer to deciding essential aspects of how any accord will be enforced. But significant differences still remain – particularly on the level playing field, enforcement and fishing – but the progress made over is an encouraging sign they are moving closer to breaking the deadlock following seven months of often bitter talks.
There has been a notable shift in mood and gears over recent days, with London and Brussels now working hard to finalise as many chapters of a potential agreement as possible.
But the threat of a major collapse in a Brexit deal still remains strong, with EU officials stressing they view any deal as a single agreement where nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.
Fishing remains a major stumbling block, with both sides still arguing over what rights EU boats will have to British waters and their share of the quota after Brexit.
France is one of a number of coastal states demanding continued access to waters between six and 12 miles off Britain’s coast – an agreement they benefitted from before Brexit.
Negotiators believe if these issues continue to be a problem, it will require major and urgent political intervention from leaders Boris Johnson and Emmanuel Macron.
But France’s Europe Minister has issued the UK with another brutal warning, insisting “there is no reason” to bow to demands from the British.
Clement Beaune told the Senate: “The face of Brexit will be the face of our fishermen, so we must be able to tell them that their interests were protected. There is no reason for us to give in to British pressure.”