International Trade Secretary Liam Fox explained the EU is willing to put the project ahead of the economic wellbeing of the world. He noted that global trade needs to improve following the coronavirus pandemic and that there could be no better sign than an agreement between the EU and UK. The bloc has so far offered the UK a Brexit deal with the same rules and regulations as being part of the EU.
Mr Fox told Sky News: “The European Union made it very clear early on that they were happy to see a deal with the UK that was roughly similar to the deal the EU has with Canada.
“Then later on the EU changed its tune and said it wasn’t willing to have that sort of agreement with the UK unless a number of conditions were applied.
“Global trade needs to improve. We need to have an opening up of those global trading arrangements.
“There could be no better sign than an agreement between the EU and UK but I’m afraid it’s the EU that’s changed its position.
Liam Fox said the EU is willing to put the project above the world’s economy
Brexit negotiations have come to a standstill after the European Union changed its mind
“We have said we are happy to accept a Canada-style agreement but the union has gone back on the position it had a year ago.
“The question is, why?
“Even now when we’re seeing this contraction in global trade, the EU is willing to put the purity of the political project ahead of the economic wellbeing of people around the world including in the EU.”
His comments come as Europe’s chief Brexit negotiator has been told there is “significant opposition” to the UK Government’s refusal to consider extending the timetable for talks.
Boris Johnson has said the UK will leave December 31
Both the SNP leader at Westminster Ian Blackford and the acting Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey have signed a letter to Michel Barnier, supporting an extension to the transition period.
Such a move would allow talks to place when “the efforts of national governments and the European Union will not be engaged solely with dealing with the dreadful Covid-19 epidemic”, they said.
With the UK having formally quit the European Union, talks are taking place between the UK and EU to determine key areas such as future trading relationships.
But with the transition period due to expire at the end of this year, there are fears the UK may be forced into a no-deal scenario, if an agreement cannot be reached.
Boris Johnson on Brexit
The letter to Mr Barnier has also been signed by Plaid Cymru MP Liz Saville Roberts, Green MP Caroline Lucas, Stephen Farry, MP from the Alliance Party, as well as fellow Northern Ireland MP Colum Eastwood of the Social Democratic and Labour Party.
They contacted Mr Barnier to highlight the “significant opposition to the UK Government’s extreme position amongst the business community, the general public and elected representatives”.
The opposition MPs noted the Scottish and Welsh governments both backed an extension of the transition period, along with “the majority of political parties in the Northern Ireland Executive”.
The MPs said: “A consensus is taking shape and we hope the UK Government will soon recognise reality.
“It is now in all of our common interests to agree and secure an extension to the transition period. This will enable these detailed and defining negotiations to be conducted at a time when, we hope, the efforts of national governments and the European Union will not be engaged solely with dealing with the dreadful Covid-19 epidemic.”