Brexit: ‘Significant gaps’ remain in trade negotiations after Boris Johnson talks with EU chief – The Independent

The spectre of a no-deal Brexit has come a step closer after Boris Johnson ended one-on-one talks with the president of the European Commission without any breakthrough in the search for a free trade agreement. The prime minister and Ursula von der Leyen have instructed chief negotiators David Frost and Michel Barnier to “work intensively” to bridge “significant” remaining differences on fisheries, governance and the level playing field on standards demanded by Brussels. But a joint statement released after the phone discussion appeared to signal awareness on both sides that a deal may not be achievable, saying that they regard it as important to get an agreement “if at all possible”.

Lord Frost said that new talks will take place next week, with more believed to be planned in Brussels the week after amid expectations that Mr Johnson’s self-imposed deadline of 15 October will be missed.


Brexit billboards: Campaigners remind MPs of past promises

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1/15Brexit billboards: Campaigners remind MPs of past promises


Brexit billboards: Campaigners remind MPs of past promises

Nigel Farage has spent his political career campaigning for the UK to leave the EU.

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Brexit billboards: Campaigners remind MPs of past promises

Boris Johnson’s support for Brexit took many by surprise before the EU referendum.

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Brexit billboards: Campaigners remind MPs of past promises

The UK and EU are yet to agree on a withdrawal deal.

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Brexit billboards: Campaigners remind MPs of past promises

This was taken from a 2012 speech delivered by Mr Davis. He does not currently support a second Brexit referendum.

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Brexit billboards: Campaigners remind MPs of past promises

Boris Johnson now supports a hard Brexit and resigned from the cabinet in 2018 over Theresa May’s strategy.

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Brexit billboards: Campaigners remind MPs of past promises

The US recently issued trade negotiation objectives for future talks with the UK. The country made clear that it expects access to the UK’s agriculture industry, reviving the debate about chlorinated chicken.

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Brexit billboards: Campaigners remind MPs of past promises

Nigel Farage does not support the current campaign for a second Brexit referendum.

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Brexit billboards: Campaigners remind MPs of past promises

Despite this quote, in February 2019 Boris Johnson said a no deal Brexit “may yet be the best option for the UK”.

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Brexit billboards: Campaigners remind MPs of past promises

The UK and EU are yet to begin negotiating a deal regarding their future relationship.

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Brexit billboards: Campaigners remind MPs of past promises

Theresa May announced that the UK would be leaving the Single Market in her Lancaster House speech in January 2017.

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Brexit billboards: Campaigners remind MPs of past promises

Theresa May triggered Article 50 on 29 March 2017.

Her withdrawal deal is yet to be passed.

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Brexit billboards: Campaigners remind MPs of past promises

A classic from the 2015 general election campaign. David Cameron resigned on 24 June 2016, following the EU referendum result.

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Brexit billboards: Campaigners remind MPs of past promises

David Davis resigned from his post as Brexit secretary in July 2018 after disagreeing with Theresa May’s negotiation strategy.

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Brexit billboards: Campaigners remind MPs of past promises

Michael Gove was one of the most influential Leave voices during the EU referendum campaign.

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Brexit billboards: Campaigners remind MPs of past promises

Jacob Rees-Mogg, a prominent backbencher, does not support a second Brexit referendum. He has called the use of this quote “fundamentally dishonest” as it was taken from a 2011 speech discussing the option of referendum before David Cameron entered negotiations with the EU.

Such a vote was never held.

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Failure to achieve a breakthrough in what was scheduled to be the final round of talks in Brussels last week has raised questions over whether enough time remains to negotiate a free trade deal and get it endorsed by the European Parliament before the end of the UK’s transition out of the EU at 11pm on 31 December. If no deal is reached by that time, the UK will be forced to trade with its nearest neighbours on World Trade Organisation terms with tariffs on many goods. The prime minister refers to this as an Australian-style arrangement, as Australia has no deal with the EU.

He today restated his willingness to accept no-deal, breaking into a Crocodile Dundee accent as he told the Daily Telegraph: “Australia holds no terrors for us mate, we say good on yer, no worries, no wukkas.”

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The joint statement said: “The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and the UK prime minister, Boris Johnson, spoke today about the state of play in the negotiations on the future relationship between the UK and the EU. “They agreed on the importance of finding an agreement, if at all possible, as a strong basis for a strategic EU-UK relationship in future.  “They endorsed the assessment of both chief negotiators that progress had been made in recent weeks but that significant gaps remained, notably but not only in the areas of fisheries, the level playing field, and governance.

 “They instructed their chief negotiators to work intensively in order to try to bridge those gaps.

 “They agreed to speak on a regular basis on this issue.” In a tweet, Ms von der Leyen said she had had a “good phone call” with the prime minister. And she added: “While progress had been made, significant gaps remain.

We agreed that it’s important to find an agreement as strong basis for a strategic relationship.” Following the completion of the latest round of trade talks on Friday, Ms von der Leyen warned that “time is running out” and urged London to compromise on areas of contention, saying: “Where there’s a will there’s a way.” But Mr Johnson retorted that the onus was on Brussels to give ground, saying: “It’s up to our friends and partners to be common-sensical.”

Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson Christine Jardine said she understood a deal was being blocked by Tory fears of signing up to climate change commitments.

“We are just days from the prime minister’s arbitrary deadline to secure a deal, and warm words will not be enough to ease the worries of countless businesses and individuals facing uncertain futures,” she said.

“Boris Johnson’s cack-handed and frankly illegal approach has only succeeded making things worse and history will judge his actions.”

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