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Lord Frost will go head-to-head with EU counterpart Michel Barnier in London today, following a delay triggered by a coronavirus scare. But he insists his team will not compromise over demands for Brussels meddling on regulations and fishing quotas. The Tory peer spoke after Mr Barnier complained of “significant divergences” with time running out to seal a trade deal by the time the UK leaves the single market and customs union on January 1.
Lord Frost said: “It is late but a deal is still possible and I will continue to talk until it’s clear that it isn’t. But for a deal to be possible it must fully respect UK sovereignty.
“That is not just a word – it has practical consequences. That includes controlling our borders, deciding ourselves on a robust and principled subsidy control system and controlling our fishing waters.
“We will continue to work hard to get it – because an agreement on any other basis is not possible.”
According to a source, Mr Barnier will put forward a new compromise for European fishing fleets to hand up to 18 per cent of their catches in British coastal waters back to the UK.
The Prime Minister’s spokesman said Boris Johnson was prepared to let the UK trade with the EU without a deal in an Australia-style relationship.
Mr Barnier’s team was gloomy about the chances of a successful deal before the talks.
He tweeted: “Same significant divergences persist.
Loggerheads “Travelling to London this evening to continue EU-UK talks with David Frost and his team.”
An EU source said: “The EU and the UK remain at loggerheads over the main outstanding issues and he wasn’t particularly optimistic about the prospects of the negotiations.”
Brussels sources said the sides were “nautical miles” apart on fishing quotas and a UK insider rejected Mr Barnier’s reported compromise plan as “derisory”.
Worried EU states have ordered European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen to trigger emergency plans for a no-deal Brexit.
But France’s Europe minister Clement Beaune urged the bloc not be “intimidated” by Britain.
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