Reports of the political demise of EU negotiator Michel Barnier appear to have been somewhat premature

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier, who was previously reported to be on the way out, said on Wednesday that the bloc is determined to get a Brexit trade deal with Britain but will be "firm and realistic" with London after Prime Minister Boris Johnson decided to break the divorce agreement, Reuters reports.

On arrival in London before informal talks, Barnier told Reuters when asked if he was optimistic about reaching a deal: “I am determined.”

“We remain calm, respectful, realistic and firm,” he said, though he declined to comment on the Internal Market Bill or on the odds of securing a trade deal.

Boris Johnson has said that he hopes never to need to use the powers he himself has proposed.

Failure to reach a deal means that British trucks could face delays of up to two days to enter Europe and queues of around 7,000 lorries after Britain leaves the bloc at the end of this year, disrupting imports and exports of crucial goods, the government has warned.

Michael Gove, the minister overseeing the Brexit talks, told the logistics and freight industry that truck drivers would face new customs controls and processes irrespective of whether a trade deal can be agreed between the two sides.

He said under the government’s reasonable worst case scenario, up to 70% of trucks travelling to the EU might not be ready for new border controls.

Britain says it is working hard to reach an agreement, but has stuck to its position that any deal must respect the country’s sovereignty.

The EU says that because of Britain’s proximity to the bloc, London must agree to a so-called level playing field of fair competition guarantees.

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