Barnier accuses UK of running down clock as government denies it is waiting for US election outcome

Fri 6 Nov 2020
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
Trade News

brexit dispute

There remain “major differences” between the UK and EU in the negotiations over the UK’s future trade relationship with the bloc, according to chief negotiator Michel Barnier.

He said the UK has “blocked” progress in key areas and accused British negotiators of trying to run down the clock, according to Sky News.

Major differences

In a briefing to the 27 EU members, chief negotiator Michel Barnier said level playing field rules remained “the most fundamental point where we still have major differences”.

Barnier also poured cold water on optimistic claims from British politicians and newspapers in recent weeks over progress in the dispute on fisheries.

Deal still possible

Barnier said he still thought that a deal “was possible” but said British negotiators “are trying to apply time pressure”.

The talks continue to be conducted in a “constructive atmosphere”, sources close to the British negotiating team told Sky.

However, they also confirmed that “significant differences remain on familiar difficult issues”.

Biden or Trump

Government sources also refuted claims that it was slowing down the talks while waiting on the results of the US presidential election, reports the BBC.

Europe editor, Katya Adler said that “a no-deal situation with the EU would be a bit easier for the government to sell in the short term with Donald Trump in the White House”.

Joe Biden and Democrat speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi have both said the UK could forget about a trade deal with the US if it went ahead with plans to undermine the Northern Ireland Protocol by passing the controversial Internal Market Bill.

Back to London

Lead negotiators David Frost and Michel Barnier are expected to talk by phone and “intensive” negotiations will continue in London on Monday.

Next week could also see more involvement from both the Prime Minister and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to help hammer out aspects of the deal.

With the pace of negotiations having slowed, Adler predicted that the deadline for talks of 15 November “is about to be smashed and extended”.