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The Government has reportedly cautioned that “no deal is arguably under-priced” and a “’significant gap’ still exists on fisheries”. According to The Telegraph, this assessment was issued “at the start of what may be the final week of trade negotiations” between the UK and the EU.
The comments suggest Britain is toughening its stance on the talks which have been drawn-out for months.
The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier arrived in London on Friday in preparation to re-ignite Brexit talks.
After spending a week in isolation following a member of the bloc’s team testing positive for coronavirus, Mr Barnier resumed face-to-face negotiations with the UK on Saturday morning.
Before his arrival, Mr Barnier wrote on Twitter that the “same significant divergences persist” in Brexit talks.
The UK and France signed a new bilateral deal on Saturday which prevents Channel migrant crossings.
The new agreement means France has to double police beach patrols but can continue to resist taking back arrivals.
Although the deal signalled a sign of hope between the UK and EU, Number 10’s most recent warning casts doubt on the talks.
Both sides need to pass in law the details of the trade treaty before the transition period ends at the start of January.
Sources in the Government told The Telegraph that Brexit talks are likely to be concluded by next weekend.
One source said the negotiations should be resolved “one way or another” this week.
Mr Barnier sparked disdain from ministers in London after proposing that the EU should grant British access to just 15 percent to 18 percent of the fish in UK waters.
A UK Government source told The Telegraph that the offer displayed how different the two sides stand.
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They added: “These figures are risible, and the EU side know full well that we would never accept this.
“There seems to be a failure from the Commission to internalise the scale of change needed as we become an independent nation.”
Negotiations between Mr Barnier and his UK counterpart David Frost are set to continue on Sunday and into next week.
On Friday, Lord Frost wrote on Twitter that “it is late” to be negotiating for a deal.
But he added: “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.”
Sources told The Telegraph: “The UK team will not settle for anything less than a great deal for UK fishing communities that guarantees for the first time in nearly 50 years that we have control over our waters.”
They added: “If the EU don’t move we are prepared to leave the transition period on Australia terms.”
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