Pound slides as UK Brexit negotiator says 'big gap' between two sides

Cheryl Sanders
May 30, 2020

Indeed, a plan to extend the transition was reportedly "all but agreed at official level" while Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his chief adviser Dominic Cummings were out of action with coronavirus infections - but this was "scuppered" when the later recovered and returned to work. Boris Johnson will participate personally in the discussions to try to find a trade agreement with Brussels from 1 June, said on Wednesday the negotiator columbia, David Frost.

Talks on a new pact to cover everything from trade to fisheries to security from 2021 had reached an impasse before a key deadline at the end of June, when the bloc and London are to assess their progress.

Mr Frost said he thought the deadline would be missed and repeated that the United Kingdom would not ask for an extension to the transition period to allow time for more trade negotiations beyond December 31.

The U.K. left the political institutions of the EU on January 31, but it remains inside the EU's tariff-free single market and customs union until the end of the year.

Mr Barnier responded: "Such an extension of up to one or two years can be agreed jointly by the two parties".

The UK has a one-off right to request an extension to the transition period to give a deal more time but Johnson has repeatedly said he will not do this.

De Rynck revealed the European Union was surprised to hear in the last round of talks that the United Kingdom wanted to continued real-time access to passenger records within the Schengen area but wanted to "deviate" from legally binding issues such as privacy. "I'm beginning to think we might not make it by the 30 June, though we'll keep trying", he said.

Mr Frost and his European Union counterpart, Mr Barnier, developed Covid-19 and Mr Johnson himself was hospitalised for the virus in April.

De Rynck said while Britain had always taken a combative approach, relations had remained cordial and the Europeans were perplexed by a letter from the British negotiator that accused the EU of offering a "relatively low quality" trade agreement.

"I would be surprised if we get to an agreement by the end of June, but it is not excluded, but it is a tall order clearly because we are almost June", De Rynck told the webinar at the Institute for Government on Friday.

"The Brexit policy is set by the Prime Minister", Mr Frost said.

Other reports by iNewsToday