The foreign secretary tells Sky News the UK will “probably” need a yes or no answer on a trade deal before the deadline on Sunday
Dominic Raab, the UK’s Foreign Secretary, has told Sky News that the Sunday deadline will be a “point of finality” for trade talks if the EU does not “move substantially” in Brexit negotiations.
On Wednesday night the UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson shared a three-hour dinner with the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen with the hopes of breaking the months of deadlock.
Despite the two leaders requesting their chief negotiators to resume talks over the next few days, they had also both agreed that the Brexit trade talks remained “very heavy” and there are currently still “major differences between the two sides”.
The Foreign Minister suggested that Sunday was now being treated as a hard deadline by the UK government, by which they need to decide whether a free trade agreement with the EU is still possible.
“I think we view it as a point when we need some finality,” he said.
“Of course, it depends if the EU moves. If the EU moves substantially and actually we’re only dotting a few Is or crossing a few Ts, it might be different.”
“But I think without movement on the crucial two, three areas that I’ve described, I think that will be a point of finality.”
“And that’s certainly the way the UK side is approaching it.”
This comes after the Prime Minister has said that “a good deal is there to be done” in regard to the EU on Brexit trade talks but he said that the bloc is currently insisting on terms with which no British Prime Minister could possibly accept.
“We will leave no stone unturned, we would like a free trade deal with the EU,” the foreign secretary added.
“But we’re not going to sacrifice the basic points of democratic principle on fisheries or on control of our laws as we leave the transition period.”
“I think it’s important that’s recognised on the EU side and, if they do, I think the scope for a deal is still there to be done.”
Mr Raab called on Brussels to recognise “two basic points of principle that no other country in the world would accept in dealing with the EU or anyone else as an independent state”.
He said: “The concept the UK would leave the transition period as an independent coastal state but without control of our fisheries; that’s something that no country in the world has accepted, or is in the position of – why would the UK?”
“Likewise, when we leave, we should be in control of our laws.”
“We’ll accept the kind of requirements in the EU’s own free trade agreements, whether it’s South Korea or Canada.”
“What we’re not going to do is allow the EU, undemocratically, to control our laws in this country.”
This comes after the government is set to drop parts of legislation that could have potentially seen the UK breaking international law after reaching an “agreement in principle” on Brexit divorce issues.
Ireland’s European Commissioner, Mairead McGuinness, said on Thursday she believed “there is a deal to be done” with the UK.
“I hope that we all get a Christmas present over the weekend – an early one,” she told RTE Radio.
“And that there is a trade agreement, because I think from all our sides … that would be the best possible outcome.”