Brexit talks to ‘go up chain of command’ as Barnier and Frost struggle for common ground

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Brexit negotiations have been logjammed as negotiators on both the UK and European Union sides have so far failed to find common ground on key issues such as fisheries, state aid and governance. Officials in the bloc have voiced their growing concerns the clock may run out before an agreement is reached, suggesting the impasse could only be broken if Boris Johnson and Ursula von der Leyen take charge of the talks directly. Euronews Political Editor Darren McCaffrey said: “It’s all going, to quote Alex Ferguson, squeaky bomb tight, really, in Brussels.

“There are fears that the timetable is simply getting too tight and if neither side moves we are heading towards no deal, hence why people are suggesting this needs to go up the chain of command, somewhat.

“Boris Johnson and Ursula von der Leyen essentially need to start talking and try to break the impasse.”

Mr McCaffrey continued: “But these talks were meant to be wrapped in the middle of October, then it was November, we’re now staring down the barrel of early December.

“And this has to be ratified by both the UK Parliament and the European Parliament in Brussels, suggesting MEPs may well be sitting between Christmas and the New Year break in order to get it passed if a deal can be done.”

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Michel Barnier travelled to London on Saturday to resume talks with Lord Frost, telling reporters he would continue working towards a deal with “patience and determination.”

Negotiations had to be paused two weeks ago after a member of Mr Barnier’s team fell ill with the coronavirus, forcing negotiator to move the discussion online.

Before his arrival in the UK, the British negotiator renewed his calls for the European Union to negotiate with Brexit Britain as a “sovereign” nation and warned against attempts to lock the country in a close relationship with the bloc.

Writing on Twitter, Lord Frost said: “Some people are asking me why we are still talking. My answer is that it’s my job to do my utmost to see if the conditions for a deal exist.

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“It is late, but a deal is still possible, and I will continue to talk until it’s clear that it isn’t.”

He added: “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.


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“We look to reach an agreement on this basis, allowing the new beginning to our relationship with the EU which, for our part, we have always wanted. We will continue to work hard to get it – because an agreement on any other basis is not possible.”

The new round of negotiations comes as Boris Johnson “underlined his commitment” to find a deal that “respects the sovereignty” of the UK during a call with Irish Taoiseach Micheal Martin.

A spokeswoman for Number 10 said: “The Prime Minister underlined his commitment to reaching a deal that respects the sovereignty of the UK.

“The leaders also reaffirmed the need to prioritise the Good Friday Agreement and avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland.”

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