French minister threatens to veto Brexit trade deal if it does not protect ‘our interests’ and claims Britain is BLUFFING about being ready to walk away without an agreement as talks resume in London
- Clement Beaune said all bets were off if UK had ‘not shown sufficient movement’
- Suggested PMs threat to walk away without agreement was a charade
- Post-Brexit trade talks between the UK and European Union continue today
A senior French minister warned that the EU would not accept a trade deal if it did not protect ‘our interests’ – and claimed the UK was bluffing about walking away from talks.
French Europe Minister Clement Beaune said that all bets were off if Britain had ‘not shown sufficient movement’ amid a continuing stand-off over fishing rights in British waters.
The issue has emerged as the last remaining real stumbling block to a deal being complete before the end of the transition period on December 31.
Post-Brexit trade talks between the UK and European Union will continue in London on Friday as Michel Barnier said both sides have a ‘common responsibility’ to strike a deal.
The European Union’s chief negotiator continued discussions with his UK counterpart Lord Frost as the deadline for an agreement looms.
Speaking to French Television, Mr Beaune said: ‘We thought the end of October was the final deadline. We are giving ourselves a few more days to give the negotiations a chance, but we need to know quickly.
‘Michel Barnier has several days ahead of him where he is going to negotiate and then he will talk to us.
He is going to tell the head of state and government of the EU27: ‘Here is a deal, and I think it is a good one’ – and then we have to evaluate it. Or: ‘I think the British have not shown sufficient movement to reach an agreement that protects our interests and then it’s no deal.’
French Europe Minister Clement Beaune said that all bets were off if Britain had ‘not shown sufficient movement’ amid a continuing stand-off over fishing rights in British waters
Post-Brexit trade talks between the UK and European Union will continue in London on Friday as Michel Barnier said both sides have a ‘common responsibility’ to strike a deal
The European Union’s chief negotiator is expected to continue discussions with his UK counterpart Lord Frost (pictured today) as the deadline for an agreement looms
And he also suggested that Boris Johnson’s position, that he is relaxed for Britain to walk away without a deal and operate on an ‘Australian-style’ trading arrangement, was a charade.
‘If the British thought they could live with the ”freedom” of no deal outside the EU, if it was so easy and so comfortable, they would have already left without a deal,’ he said.
Talks had been in limbo after Boris Johnson’s deadline for a deal passed last week, but they resumed on Thursday as Brussels said both sides needed to compromise on trade issues.
Mr Barnier arrived in London on Thursday evening wearing a face covering printed with the EU flag.
He told reporters: ‘I think we have a huge common responsibility. Every day counts.’
Number 10 acknowledged that ‘significant gaps’ remain between the two sides and it was ‘entirely possible that negotiations will not succeed’.
The main stumbling blocks remain fishing rights, the governance of any deal and the ‘level playing field’ aimed at preventing unfair competition, which includes state subsidies.
Time is short to reach an agreement before the end of the transition period on December 31.
Both sides had previously said a deal would need to be reached by mid-October in order to allow time for ratification.
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