Brexit talks end a day early as stalemate hits – David Frost heads back to London

3 min

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Chief negotiators David Frost and Michel Barnier have agreed to continue talks in London next week. Sources said the pair agreed an early finish after taking the process as far as they intended to. The first round of physical negotiations, since March when the coronavirus pandemic hit Europe, were scheduled to end on Friday.

Mr Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, claimed there are still serious gaps between the bloc and Britain.

He said: “Our goal was to get negotiations successfully and quickly on a trajectory to reach an agreement.

“However, after four days of discussions, serious divergences remain.”

Italy’s PM broke ranks with Barnier calling for special Brexit trade deal with UK

Brexit talks between UK and EU break up a day early in Brussels (Image: GETTY)

Italy’s PM broke ranks with Barnier calling for special Brexit trade deal with UK

David Frost is the UK’s chief trade negotiator with the EU (Image: GETTY)

Mr Barnier lashed out at his British counterparts, demanding they showed more respect for the EU’s trade demands.

He added: “We will continue to insist on parallel progress on all areas.

“The EU expects, in turn, its position to be better understood and respected in order to reach an agreement.

“We need equivalent engagement by the United Kingdom.”

Italy’s PM broke ranks with Barnier calling for special Brexit trade deal with UK

Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, said there are ‘serious divergences’ (Image: GETTY)

Boris Johnson’s chief trade negotiator with the EU said this week’s negotiations had been useful.

Mr Frost said: “We have completed our discussion of the full range of issues in the negotiation in just over three days.

“Our talks were face to face for the first time since March and this has given extra depth and flexibility to our discussions.

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Italy’s PM broke ranks with Barnier calling for special Brexit trade deal with UK

Mr Frost in the EU Commission’s Berlaymont headquarters (Image: GETTY)

“The negotiations have been comprehensive and useful. But they have also underlined the significant differences that still remain between us on a number of important issues.

“We remain committed to working hard to find an early understanding on the principles underlying an agreement out of the intensified talks process during July.”

There were no clear signs of progress between the two sides, with talks understood to be largely held up by differences over future access to Britain’s fishing grounds, a regulatory level-playing field and the overall structure of the future relationship – known as governance.

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Mr Barnier said there would be “no economic partnership” without the level-playing field, a fisheries deal or an “overarching institutional framework”.

He added: “The EU side had listened carefully to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s statements in recent weeks, in particular, his request to reach a political agreement quickly, and his red lines: no role for the European Court of Justice in the UK; no obligation for the UK to continue to be bound by EU law; and an agreement on fisheries that shows Brexit makes a real difference.

“The EU engaged constructively, as we had already done during the fourth round of negotiations in June.”

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