‘Barnier has head in the sand!’ EU warned as Brexit trade talks near disastrous collapse

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The two sides, led the UK’s chief Brexit negotiator David Frost and Brussels counterpart Mr Barnier, began negotiations on the future relationship in March after Boris Johnson delivered on his promise to “get Brexit done” on January 31. But the talks have quickly descended into chaos, with the UK and EU trading brutal blows and insults over their negotiating stances and demands for certain elements in any post-Brexit agreement. Key areas such as the level playing field, state aid, tax and access to the single market all still remain unresolved – with no solution in sight.

Talks appear to have reached a stalemate, with Mr Barnier writing to UK opposition party leaders to say the EU is open to the idea of an extension to the transition period by up to two years.

But this was immediately slapped down by both Mr Johnson and Mr Frost, who have dismissed this will and continue to insist a trade deal is signed before the deadline on December 31, 2020.

A group of Remain ministers, led by Liberal Democrat acting co-leader sir Ed Davey, are also trying to squeeze a Bill through Parliament in a last-ditch and desperate attempt to delay Brexit by up to two years.

The second reading of this Bill is due to take place on June 12.

Trade talks could reach a critical point on Monday when the next round of virtual negotiations begin, with Mr Frost continuing to warn the EU needs to dramatically change its stance in negotiations and relent on a number of areas if further progress is to be made.

John Macdonald, head of government affairs at the Adam Smith Institute, told Express.co.uk: “As we approach the final week of talks before the June summit, negotiations are likely to collapse unless there is compromise on a trade deal and fisheries agreement.

“David Frost has admitted it is unlikely a fisheries agreement will be met by July 1st.

“While this is a soft deadline, the EU will have to accept the UK wants control over its own waters if negotiations are to progress.

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“There has been some suggestion that the penny is dropping for Barnier that the UK will follow through on walking away from the negotiating table unless the EU drops regulatory alignment.

“However, his letter to remain supporting opposition MPs offering an extension to the transition period indicates otherwise.

“Barnier still appears in denial that the Conservatives secured their election victory by promising not to extend the transition period. Frost is ready to walk away and Barnier has his head in the sand.

“As we approach the final week of negotiations before the June summit, both sides will soon have to decide if continuing negotiations under the current stalemate is preferable to preparing for a no deal scenario.”

Mr Macdonald had previously warned Mr Johnson “won’t hesitate” to walk away from a trade deal with the EU, and lashed out at Brussels for not taking the Prime Minister’s threats seriously enough.

He warned a disastrous no deal scenario for both sides is now becoming more of a reality.

The Head of government Affairs at the Adam Smith Institute said: “While a trade deal is now even more in both the EU and UK’s interests, the EU appears not to understand (despite how often it has been repeated) that unlike Theresa May, Johnson’s strong Parliamentary majority is staked on his commitment to ‘Get Brexit Done’.

“It is likely he will not hesitate to walk away from the table.

“Johnson and his top team have already shown willingness to walk away should their negotiating principles be violated.

“They refused to cave to pressure to amend their Withdrawal Agreement Bill when the Tories had no working majority, choosing the riskier strategy of pursuing a General Election over sacrificing their principles.”

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