Posted on May 17, 2020
Despite a week in trade talks between Brussels and London appeared to hit a stalemate, with neither side giving ground on crucial issues such as fishing rights in UK waters and the so-called “level playing field” rules to ensure fair competition, British Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said on Sunday that there is still a post-Brexit trade deal to be done with the EU, providing the bloc is prepared to compromise.
On Friday both sides gave downbeat assessments of the latest round of talks, saying the other side had to give ground if any progress was to be made.
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The stalemate has raised the prospect that there will be no deal struck, a scenario that would damage global trade as the world copes with the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. The EU negotiators have stated that their opinion is that this is what Boris Johnson actually wants: if that is indeed the case, the British prime minister will be confident that he has the mood of his country largely behind him.
We’re making it clear to the EU we can’t do a deal on those terms, but I am confident that there is a deal to be done. It just requires a degree of flexibility on the EU side which I’m sure that they will appreciate they need to show.
On Friday, investors’ concerns about the state of the trade negotiations pushed sterling to its lowest level in more than a month.
However, the Mail on Sunday reported that the British government is now preparing to walk away altogether if no progress was made at the next round of talks due to begin in 15 days time
“Breakdown is entirely possible,” an unnamed senior government source told the paper.
The Sunday Times said a no-deal planning committee, chaired by Gove, was now going to meet regularly, and that officials who had been seconded to help fight the COVID19 outbreak were being moved back to plan to prepare for this eventuality.
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