Michel Barnier’s Brexit bluff to backfire on EU chief as both sides hurtle towards no deal

Brexit: Expert explains possible ‘no deal outcome’

Downing Street has said the Brexit trade talks are at a “very difficult point” and warned that time is ticking if a deal is to be struck. A spokesman for the Prime Minister told reporters: “Time is in very short supply and we are at a very difficult point in the talks.” Philip Rycroft, former Permanent Secretary, Exiting the EU warned there will be a no deal if an agreement is not struck in the next four days.

Asked about Michel Barnier’s claim the EU would prefer a “good deal next year than a bad deal this year”, and on whether this had “strengthened” the EU negotiator’s hand, Mr Rycroft told Sky News: “I don’t think that has a material difference on the need to get something sorted out now.

“Don’t forget there is no way of extending the transition period at the end of this year.

“That is legally and politically almost impossible to do.

“If the negotiations aren’t sorted over the next three to four days then effectively we have no deal at the end of this year and a different sort of negotiation has to resume at some point next year.

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“But in those circumstances, there’s going to be a lot of bad temper and ill-will.

“Neither side is going to want to be the first to say, ‘yes, let’s get back around the table’.

“That situation could persist for a very long time and effectively that’s a no deal outcome.”

Speaking on Friday, a spokesman for Boris Johnson said: “We are committed to working hard to try and reach an agreement with the EU and the talks are ongoing.

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“There are still some issues to overcome. Time is in very short supply and we are at a very difficult point in the talks.

“What is certain is we will not be able to agree a deal that doesn’t respect our fundamental principles on sovereignty, fishing and control.

“Our negotiating team is working extremely hard in order to bridge the gaps that remain.”

Mr Barnier and Lord Frost, the UK’s lead negotiator, are both personally involved in Friday’s discussions, Downing Street said.


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The comments come after Business Secretary Alok Sharma told broadcasters there were “a number of tricky issues” still outstanding.

Fishing and the so-called “level playing field” aimed at preventing unfair competition on state subsidies and standards remain the main issues to be resolved in the talks.

And with the Brexit transition period due to end on December 31, there is little time left to get a deal agreed by negotiators and approved by the EU’s leaders, Westminster and the European Parliament.

European Commission spokesman Eric Mamer, asked for an update on fishing rights, told reporters in Brussels: “Today is still a day for negotiations, they are ongoing, so we can’t make any comments on the contents of what is being discussed.”

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