Brexit negotiator: Britain demanded “more realism” from the European Union ahead of crucial post-Brexit trade talks on Tuesday, but the mood was soured by reports that London was looking to rewrite an agreement the two sides had already signed.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s chief negotiator, David Frost, said “we must make progress this week” if an agreement is to be reached by the end of a post-Brexit transition period in December.
For that, “we need to see more realism from the EU about our status as an independent country”, he said ahead of Tuesday’s talks with the EU’s Michel Barnier in London.
“If they can’t do that in the very limited time we have left, then we will be trading on terms like those the EU has with Australia, and we are ramping up our preparations for the end of the year.”
Talks have been deadlocked for months over issues such as the extent of EU access to UK fishing waters, state aid and fair competition rules. Both sides say a deal must be agreed by a mid-October EU summit.
But there was concern in Brussels after the Financial Times reported Johnson planned to legislate to override parts of the Withdrawal Agreement struck before Britain left the EU in January.
Everything that has been signed must be respected,” Barnier warned, saying he would discuss it with Frost.
The FT said legislation to be put before the UK parliament this week would undermine agreements relating to Northern Ireland customs and state aid.
Under the protocol, Northern Ireland, which will have Britain’s only land border with the EU, will follow some of the bloc’s rules to ensure the frontier remains open.