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Brexit negotiations between the UK and EU have reached high drama as the countdown to Britain’s official withdrawal from the bloc continues. Even though the UK formally withdrew from the EU in January, it said it would abide by EU rules in a transition period until the end of the year until a trade-deal was agreed. But the situation was made even more complex in recent weeks with Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s proposal of the Internal Market Bill which would in effect override the withdrawal agreement reached by the two parties.
What’s happening with Brexit talks now?
Negotiations have made slow progress and, at times, have proved tense with both sides criticising the attitude of the other.
Trading relationships between Britain and Northern Ireland remain a huge issue, alongside fishing rights, state subsidies and the rights of citizens.
Cabinet Officer Michael Gove will be in Brussels on Monday, September 28, to discuss matters with European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic.
On Tuesday, September 29, the ninth round of negotiations between London and Brussels will commence.
Within their talks, they are likely to focus discussions on the looming Withdrawal Agreement.
Brussels reacted very strongly to the controversial Internal Market Bill put forward by Mr Johnson which would override EU jurisdiction to continue trading with Northern Ireland.
Mr Sefcovic, who chairs the EU-UK joint committee, said if the Bill wasn’t dropped by the end of September the UK would face extensive legal action for breaking international law.
Both sides have said that a deal would need to be made by the middle of October in order for it to be ratified before the end of the year.
However, doubt still lingers in Brussels, with EU leaders accusing Westminster of lacking “credible” ideas to break the deadlock.
Lord David Frost, the UK’s negotiator, and his EU counterpart Michel Barnier, are said to be preparing to finalise details by the end of this week.
If talks go well, they hope to enter “the tunnel” which is the final stage before the official exit of Britain.
The Prime Minister is believed to want a Brexit deal and is coming under pressure to secure one from Cabinet ministers.
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Mr Gove, who is in charge of planning for a no deal scenario, is said to be “terrified” of the effects of a second wave of coronavirus combined with the failure to negotiate a deal.
Both sides are said to have made compromises in the hopes a deal can be reached in the end.
Brussels is believed to have watered down its demands for checks on the movement of goods between Britain and Northern Ireland.
In return, the UK would likely have to agree to abide by some “baseline rules” over the use of state aid to uphold British businesses.
In a statement, Mr Frost said: “An agreement is still very much possible, but equally very far from certain.
“The last two weeks of informal talks have been relatively positive, but there remains much to be done and time is short.”
Irish Prime Minister Michael Martin said he is “not optimistic” about a trade deal being struck between the two sides.
Mr Martin said his Government was already preparing for the “terrible reality” of a no-deal scenario at the end of 2020.
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