U.K., EU rule out quick post-Brexit deal

David Frost

David Frost  

Britain and the European Union on Thursday broke up their latest round of post-Brexit trade negotiations by ruling out a quick deal but voicing hope for agreement in the coming months.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson had promised last month to add “a bit of oomph” to the stalled negotiations when he personally joined them last month.

His main goal then was to get a framework deal struck by the end July that could assure U.K. businesses they do not have to start preparing for a messy no-deal breakup when the current transition period ends on December 31. But chief negotiators said this was unlikely because of a fundamental gap on major areas such as fishing rights and fair competition rules.

“It is unfortunately clear that we will not reach in July the ‘early understanding on the principles underlying any agreement,” Britain’s David Frost said.

He accused the EU of failing to recognise Britain’s economic and political independence and described the gulf between the sides on some points as “considerable”.

‘One big deal’

Mr. Frost’s counterpart Michel Barnier criticised London for refusing to move on its red lines.

“By its current refusal to commit to conditions to open and fair competition, and to a balanced agreement on fisheries, the UK makes the trade agreement at this point unlikely,” he told a news conference.

A senior British government official said both sides will try to agree the shape of a potential accord — now more likely to look like one big deal than lots of small ones — at informal talks in London next week.

The British side said it expects “textured” talks on the finer details to begin in mid-August and run though September.

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