"There is only any point in Michel Barnier coming to London next week if he's prepared to address all the issues on the basis of a legal text in an accelerated way, without the United Kingdom required to make all the moves or to discuss the practicalities of travel and haulage", he said. AP's earlier story follows below.
The United Kingdom appeared to be on the brink of walking away from talks on a trade deal with the European Union after Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Friday (16 October) that the European Union had "abandoned the idea of a free trade deal".
The insistence of France and other northern fishing nations on maintaining access to British waters has been a key stumbling block in the talks so far.
In response to Johnson's statement, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen tweeted that "the EU continues to work for a deal, but not at any price".
Frost also scoffed at the EU's charge that only Britain should budge, calling it "an unusual approach to conducting a negotiation".
"That's how we would like to see things evolve from now and in the future.to bring this to a conclusion", he told reporters in Brussels.
Britain wants to reassert sovereignty over its waters and refuse European Union legal oversight over any deal, insisting it wants an overarching trade deal of the kind the European Union adopted with Canada in 2017. He said Britain would listen if there was "a fundamental change of approach" from Brussels.
"I have concluded that we should get ready for January 1 with arrangements that are more like Australia's based on simple principles of global free trade".
Johnson had previously said October 15 would be the deadline for assessing whether there was a clear path to a trade deal.
Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders chief executive Mike Hawes warned it would have a "devastating impact" on the automotive sector, hitting jobs "in every region of Britain".
Britain formally left the EU on January 31 this year, but a transition period, which ends on December 31, means it remains in the EU single market and customs union.
Despite Johnson's intransigent tone, U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said Friday that gaps between the two sides were narrow. "There's a deal to be done, but there needs to be flexibility on both sides, energy and goodwill and political will on both sides".
"The issues are really narrow now", Raab said.
While Australia does not have a free trade agreement in place with Brussels, it does have a series of agreements on trade and other areas.
"They want the continued ability to control our legislative freedom, our fisheries, in a way that is completely unacceptable to an independent country", he added.
"We are ready to continue to talk, in good faith, to advance, but I will also be very clear: we will not sacrifice any position, any interest and we will not sacrifice our fishermen", French President Emmanuel Macron said.
"And so with high hearts and complete confidence we will prepare to embrace the alternative", Johnson said. "This of course means that we (the EU), too, will need to make compromises".
Speaking after the first day of the European Council summit, the EU's negotiator Michel Barnier had indicated willingness to pursue "intensive" talks in London next week and Brussels the week after. Britain has not commented on that timetable.
A Brexit trade deal could still be harder to achieve after Mr Johnson's colourful intervention in an already fraught process, but it is not impossible, especially as the two sides are still talking.
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