Boris to Take Charge of Brexit Talks, Tell EU Demands ‘Not Realistic’: Report

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 19: Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson poses for a photo wearing boxing gloves emblazoned with "Get Brexit Done" during a stop in his General Election Campaign trail at Jimmy Egan's Boxing Academy on November 19, 2019 in Manchester, England. Britain goes to the polls on Dec.12. …
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Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to take charge of UK-EU trade negotiations personally and will tell Brussels that its demands on fishing rights and regulatory alignment are unrealistic.

The report comes after the European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said on Friday that the United Kingdom could not decline to extend the transition period if it also refuses to surrender “on certain subjects that are important for the European Union”.

Implicit in the remarks were the issues of continued free access to Britain’s lucrative territorial fishing waters and the UK voluntarily restricting her competitiveness by abiding by EU standards, the so-called “level playing field” which prevents the UK from outperforming Europe on the world’s economic stage.

The UK’s chief negotiator David Frost is expected to advise the prime minister, who returned to work on Monday after recovering from a severe case of coronavirus, that it is time for fresh “political impetus”, according to a source speaking to The Times.

One source told the newspaper, in an article published on Monday, that Prime Minister Johnson is expected to tell the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, that “the EU’s’s mandate is clearly not a realistic solution”.

The source added that amongst Johnson’s team is frustration that Brussels persists in demanding the UK accept continued oversight of the European Court of Justice as part of the price for a trade deal.

On Sunday, sources told The Guardian that advisers had told the prime minister that negotiations are on course to fall through, with negotiators on both sides of the channel agreeing they are unlikely to make progress on contentious issues like fishing and regulatory alignment.

Brussels sources also told the newspaper that British officials “listened politely ” to the EU’s’s contentious proposals, but did not engage on them.

While last week, civil servants in Mr Frost negotiating team, many of which are from the Theresa May era of government, are reportedly frustrated over their Brexiteer government-appointed counterparts’ reluctance to consider an extension to the transition period.

The British government has said that if sufficient progress is not made on negotiations by June, then the country will pull out of talks and spend the remainder of the transition period preparing for an orderly entry into a World Trade Organization (WTO) relationship with the bloc in time for December 31st, 2020. The UK also has enshrined in law that the country cannot remain within EU institutions beyond that date.

Germany is expected to pressure the UK to agree to extend the transition period, keeping the UK in the Customs Union and Single Market until as long as 2023 – seven years after the British people voted to leave the European Union.

However, negotiations sources have told media that several European countries have accepted that the UK leaving the bloc without a deal on December 31st would make little difference given the crisis caused by the pandemic. The Single Market is affectively suspended, supply chains are already disrupted, and any adverse effects of a no-deal would be absorbed by coronavirus-related financial climate.


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