Brexit: UK-EU talks resume in final push for trade deal

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Dailynewsun News Desk

The UK and EU are holding talks in a continued effort to reach a post-Brexit trade deal. Disputes over fishing and business rules remain, with the UK government saying discussions in Brussels have reached “a critical moment”.

The EU mood was described as “gloomy” as chief negotiator Michel Barnier met UK counterpart Lord Frost, reports BBC.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will speak to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at 16:00 GMT. If no deal is done and ratified by 31 December, the UK and EU could introduce import charges on each other’s goods.

Speaking in the House of Commons, minister Penny Mordaunt said: “We are at a critical moment in the negotiations.”

“We are all working to get a deal, but the only way that’s possible is if it’s compatible with our sovereignty and takes back control of our country’s trade and waters,” she added.

The UK was prepared to walk away from negotiations if the EU could not “find compromises”, Ms Mordaunt said.

Asked when the cut-off point for a deal was, a European Commission spokesman said: “We are not going to speculate on a last-chance date. We are fully committed to substantial negotiations. We’ve always said and continue to say it’s the substance that prevails over timing.”

Earlier, Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney described the EU negotiating team’s frame of mind as “gloomy” and “downbeat”.

The basics of Brexit
• Brexit happened but rules didn’t change at once: The UK left the European Union on 31 January but leaders needed time to negotiate a deal for life afterwards – they got 11 months

• Talks are on again: The UK and the EU have until 31 December to agree a trade deal as well as other things, such as fishing rights

• If there is no deal: Border checks and taxes will be introduced for goods travelling between the UK and the EU. But deal or no deal, we will still see changes

What are they arguing about?
The EU is warning that, without ongoing access to UK waters for its fleets, UK fishermen will no longer have special access to EU markets to sell their goods. But the UK argues that what goes on in its own waters should be under its control as a sovereign country.

The UK and EU are also at loggerheads over the so-called “level playing field” – a set of shared rules and standards to ensure businesses in one country do not have an unfair advantage over their competitors in others.

Brussels wants the UK to adhere to EU rules on workers’ rights, environmental regulations and state aid, but the UK says the goal of Brexit is to break free from following common rules and reassert national sovereignty.

And the two sides disagree on how any future trading disputes should be resolved.