Brexit deal negotiations between the UK and the EU have remained stalled despite experts warning that the European economy could be badly affected if a post-Brexit trade deal is not secured before the end of the transition period.
Some very strong sources have hinted that a deal is most likely not possible before the end of next week as both the UK and the EU have continued their virtual negotiation in a desperate move to see that a deal is sealed at all cost.
However, Downing Street is determined to exit the single market and customs union in any event but has resolved to keep working towards reaching a deal with the Europeans to allow smooth trade with no quotas or tariffs after December 31.
Britain and Brussels are still finding it very difficult to cross the major lines on fishery rights, the governance of any deal and the level playing field conditions which are aimed at preventing unfair competition by reducing standards or increasing state subsidies.
George Eustice Environment Secretary said, “It’s no secret that there have been two difficult sticking points – state aid and fisheries. Our negotiating team is working hard to try and get a breakthrough and to ensure that we have a free trade agreement and a future partnership.”
Mr Eustice emphasised the UK government’s interest in getting tariff-free trade on all goods but, “the UK accepted that the EU weren’t up for any kind of special agreement, so since then we’ve been working on a simple trade deal much like the EU/Canada one.
“You can take a horse to water but you can’t make it drink and if the EU are reluctant or unwilling to do a tariff-free trade agreement, then we would as a country have to review what our response to that would be.”
Mr Eustice revealed that the UK had increased it’s patrolling of UK fishing waters ahead of the end of the transition period following concerns that the European negotiation team will likely not budge.
“The greatest challenges will come in the channel and the southern north sea, so we’ve increased our patrol capacity by about fivefold, with additional vessels from the Royal Navy.”
A source close to the talks said, “The EU seems to be changing approach, one time you think there’s a result but at another time it’s a bit further away than you could imagine.”