EU-UK trade deal "looks unlikely" says Michel Barnier

EU-UK post-Brexit trade deal "looks unlikely" says EU negotiator Michel Barnier.

“By its current refusal to commit to conditions of open and fair competition and to a balanced agreement on fisheries, the UK makes a trade agreement - at this point - unlikely,” he said.

He added that while London fails to change its position on these core issues there was a real risk of negotiations coming to naught, resulting in a no-deal separation between Britain and the bloc at the end of 2020.

"The time for answers is quickly running out on important areas such as climate, environment, labour and social law'' he added.

While Barnier said headway had been made on some issues this week, he added the two sides were at loggerheads over a deal concerning fisheries and the EU refused to sign off on an accord that would damage its fishing industry.

Meanwhile, UK chief negotiator David Frost said his country must "face the possibility" that it may not agree a deal on its future relationship with the EU by the end of this year.

However, Frost held out a glimmer of hope, at least for public consumption, saying "despite all the difficulties" he still thought a deal might be reached in September.

"We will keep working hard to bridge the gaps and find a way through," he said.

With less than six months to go until the end of the Brexit transition period, the UK must "continue preparing for all possible scenarios" for once that deadline passes, he warned in a statement.

The comments came after the week’s negotiations in London, with Barnier hammering home at a news conference that the "time for answers is quickly running out."

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