David Frost, Chief Brexit negotiator, says the UK must “continue preparing for all possible scenarios” for the end of the transition
The United Kingdom must “face the possibility” that it will not agree to a deal on its future relationship with the European Union by the end of 2020.
Chief negotiator for Brexit, David Frost, has said that with less than six months to go until the transition period for leaving European Union ends, the United Kingdom must “continue preparing for all possible scenarios” for when that deadline has passed.
This comes after the Prime Minister was set to plead with Scots to stay as part of the union on a visit to Scotland on Thursday, claiming that the “sheer might” of the United Kingdom has been demonstrated during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Michel Barnier, his EU counterpart, has said that an agreement “at this point” is “unlikely”.
Mr Frost said in a statement that “considerable gaps remain in the most difficult areas” – the so-called level playing field and fisheries.
“We have always been clear that our principles in these areas are not simple negotiating positions but expressions of the reality that we will be a fully independent country at the end of the transition period,” he said.
“That is why we continue to look for a deal with, at its core, a free trade agreement similar to the one the EU already has with Canada – that is, an agreement based on existing precedents.”
“We remain unclear why this is so difficult for the EU, but we will continue to negotiate with this in mind.”
EU negotiator Michel Barnier highlighted, in particular, the UK’s demands on fisheries, telling a press briefing: “The UK is effectively seeking for the near-total exclusion of fishing vessels from the UK’s water. That is simply unacceptable.”
Mr Barnier accused the UK of not displaying a “willingness to break the deadlock” and claimed it has “not shown the same level of engagement and readiness to find solutions respecting the EU fundamental principles and interests”.
He said the “time for answers is quickly running out”, adding: “If we do not reach an agreement on our future partnership there will be more friction.”
This comes after public health directors say that the Prime Minister must address obesity issues in England by tackling poverty and availability of junk food.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has officially told the EU that he will not be extending the transitionary period beyond the end of the year, which is despite warnings that the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has made striking a deal for Brexit impossible.
Mr Barnier has said that the two sides have until October “at the latest” to come up with a deal, or they risk the introduction of quotas and tariffs.
“If we want to avoid this additional friction we must come to an agreement in October at the latest so that our new treaty can enter into force on 1 January next year,” he said.
“This means that we only a few weeks left and that we should not waste it.”