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Mark Francois has hit out at Michel Barnier who said today a Brexit deal looked “unlikely” and that the two sides remained at a stalemate. The Brexiteer warned the UK could leave with no deal on December 31 as Prime Minister Boris Johnson has refused to request an extension to the trade talks. David Frost, the UK’s chief negotiator, meanwhile confirmed there was a continued impasse but struck a more hopeful tone in his media appearance following intensified discussions.
Speaking to talkRADIO, Mr Francois said: “One thing that runs through history is, people who bully us tend not to do well out of it.
“That isn’t going to work and if necessary we will leave on December 31 and we will trade on Australia/WTO terms which is how most of the world trades anyway.
“We’re not frightened of doing that. We would prefer a deal but if they’re going to be intransigent we’re going down the WTO path.
“I think the British public is running out of patience with Mr Barnier. The show is getting a bit boring.
“If they don’t want a compromise that’s fine, we’ll do our own thing.”
Brexit talks will intensify over the summer between the UK and EU, according to Government sources.
A senior UK Government official involved in the talks said the “only way forward now is to have a textual negotiation to get into the detail”, which is scheduled to happen in August and September.
Formal talks are “pre-programmed in” for the week of August 17 and fringe discussions will continue next week.
A senior UK Government official involved in the talks, when asked about whether the discussions were closer to breakdown or breakthrough, said: “I think we are potentially closer to both, to be honest – I think it is hard to quantify.
“I can quite see how we can make a breakthrough relatively quickly if they do adjust their position in the most important areas and, if they don’t, we won’t.
“It really is in their hands to a large extent and it is related to the fundamental principles in these few areas.”
On the prospect of a deal, they added: “I think it can be done, there is a way to do it, I can see how it can be done but you cannot be sure we will get there.”
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Speaking after the talks, Michel Barnier said the UK “refuses to commit to maintaining high standards in a meaningful way” and that “no progress at all” had been made on state aid.
“This is all the more worrying because we have no visibility on the UK’s intention on its future domestic subsidy control system and regime,” added the former French cabinet minister.
He said the EU had engaged “sincerely” on the UK’s “red lines”, adding: “Over the past few weeks the UK has not shown the same level of engagement and readiness to find solutions respecting the EU fundamental principles and interests.”
Mr Barnier told reporters the EU and UK had until “October at the latest” to strike a deal or risk the imposition of quotas and tariffs and called for both sides to “not waste” the time left.
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