Saturday , July 11 2020

Brexit news: Frost gives final warning to ‘unrealistic’ Barnier ahead of crunch talks | Politics | News

The next round of negotiations between the two sides will begin in Brussels on Monday in what the UK’s chief Brexit negotiator described as “the start of the intensified process”, and will be followed by talks in London the week after. This will be the first time Britain and the European Union will meet face-to-face since the opening of talks in the Belgian capital in March. Negotiations have been limited to video conference calls due to the coronavirus pandemic sweeping through Europe and the resulting lockdown measures that have been enforced.

Mr Frost published the agenda for the next meeting, which will run from Monday until Friday.

The week is packed with key elements in the post-Brexit trade agreement which the UK and EU have traded vicious blows over, including a level playing field, fisheries, trade in goods and services, criminal law and judicial cooperation, and social security.

The two lead negotiators will then end the week-long meeting by holding their own face-to-face talks next Friday.

In a series of tweets ahead of next week’s crunch talks, Mr Frost wrote: “For the first time since March we will meet face to face, in Brussels. We look forward to welcoming the EU team to London the week after.

“These meetings will be smaller and focused on seeing whether we can begin to make genuine and rapid progress towards an agreement.

“We will go to Brussels in good faith to engage with the EU’s concerns.”

But Mr Frost also issued a huge final warning to the EU and Mr Barnier, warning “UK sovereignty, over our laws, our courts, or our fishing waters, is of course not up for discussion” and that the UK will “not seek anything which would undermine the integrity of the EU’s single market”.

Boris Johnson’s chief negotiator also lashed out at the EU over the possibility of retaliating with tariffs “if we chose to make laws suiting our interests”.

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Mr Frost concluded: “Finally, I want to be clear that the Government will not agree to ideas like the one currently circulating giving the EU a new right to retaliate with tariffs if we chose to make laws suiting our interests.

“We could not leave ourselves open to such unforeseeable economic risk.”

The UK officially left the European Union on January 31 after Prime Minister Mr Johnson scored a crushing defeat in December’s general election that provided him with a huge 80-seat majority to push his Brexit deal through parliament.

Talks on a trade agreement and the future relationship between the UK and EU began in March – before the peak of the coronavirus pandemic struck.

But the two sides have been trading vicious insults ever since over each other’s negotiating position and demands for what should and shouldn’t be included in any trade deal.

The UK has also insisted it will leave the EU at the end of the transition period on December 31, 2020 – a move which has angered the EU but one it has eventually agreed to.

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