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Brexit negotiations with the EU have yet to reach a conclusion, with the two sides disagreeing on three fundamental areas: fishing rights, the level playing field demand and whether the UK should remain tied to the European Court of Justice (ECJ). The current stalemate is a cause of deep frustration for both the UK and Brussels, leading some commentators to suggest Boris Johnson should walk away from the talks altogether.
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Earlier this year the Prime Minister threatened to quit the talks by June if Europe doesn’t meet his demands.
But his approach softened slightly as the coronavirus pandemic delayed negotiations between the two sides.
The UK Government still insists Britain is prepared for a no deal Brexit however and maintains that it is not prepared to sacrifice its sovereignty in pursuit of a deal with the bloc.
Mr Johnson has also said negotiations must be wrapped up by October, to allow businesses sufficient time to prepare for the end of the EU transition period in December.
A Downing Street spokesman said last month: “Talks can’t go on into the autumn.”
He added Mr Johnson was clear about “not wanting to be continuing having talks in October”.
The EU has also imposed a deadline of October 15, to allow sufficient time for the deal to be signed off by the European Parliament.
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Last month David Frost, the UK’s chief Brexit negotiator, said a deal could be reached by September if the EU was prepared to make concessions.
Speaking at the end of the fifth round of formal talks with the EU, the negotiator said: “It is unfortunately clear that we will not reach in July the early understanding on the principles underlying any agreement that was set as an aim [by Mr Johnson] on June 15… substantial areas of disagreement remain.”
But the EU has also lashed out at Britain’s supposed unwillingness to compromise.
Michel Barnier, the bloc’s chief Brexit negotiator, said: “This week, again the UK did not show a willingness to break the deadlock.
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“But the EU cannot accept and will not accept the bill for the UK’s political choices.”
The next round of talks will kick off in Brussels on August 17 as Mr Frost and his EU counterpart attempt to make progress in the trade talks.
Specialised sessions will then take place at the end of the month, as needed.
Another round of talks is scheduled for the week commencing September 7 in London.
The final round is set for 28 September to October 2, which will be held in Brussels.
If a deal has not been reached, Britain will default to trading on World Trade Organization terms when the EU transition period ends on December 31.
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