Updated: Dec 14, 2020
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UK and EU still apart on Brexit but PM doesn't want to walk yet - minister
Britain and the European Union are still apart in Brexit trade talks but Prime Minister Boris Johnson does not want to walk away yet, Business Secretary Alok Sharma said on Monday.
Britain and the EU agreed on Sunday to “go the extra mile” in coming days to try to reach an elusive trade agreement despite missing their latest deadline to avert a turbulent exit at the end of the month.
“We will continue discussing, we are of course apart on certain matters but as the prime minister said, we don’t want to walk away from these talks,” Sharma told Sky.
“People expect us, businesses expect us in the UK to go the extra mile and that’s precisely what we’re doing.”
BRUSSELS/LONDON (Reuters) - Britain is more likely to leave the European Union’s orbit on Dec. 31 without a trade deal than with an agreement, the head of the European Commission was quoted as telling the bloc’s 27 national leaders on Friday.
Britain quit the EU in January but remains an informal member until Dec. 31 - the end of a transition period during which it has remained in the EU single market and customs union.
Both sides say they want to agree arrangements to cover nearly $1 trillion in annual trade, but talks are at an impasse and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday there was “a strong possibility” an agreement would not be clinched.
In the case of a “no deal” on trade, Britain would lose zero-tariff and zero-quota access to the European single market of 450 million consumers overnight.
“The probability of a no deal is higher than of a deal,” an EU official who declined to be identified quoted Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the EU’s executive European Commission, as saying during an EU summit in Brussels.
Johnson and von der Leyen have given negotiators until Sunday evening to break the impasse at talks that are deadlocked over fishing rights and EU demands for Britain to be punished if in the future it diverges from the bloc’s rules.
Von der Leyen said it would be clear on Sunday whether the conditions for a deal had been reached.
UK PM Johnson says no-trade deal Brexit is "very, very likely"
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Friday that it was very likely that trade talks with the European Union would fail and that the United Kingdom would leave the bloc at the end of year without a deal.
“I’ve got to tell you that from where I stand now ... it’s looking very, very likely we’ll have to go for a solution that I think will be wonderful for the UK, we’ll be able to do exactly what we want from January 1, it will obviously be different from what we set out to achieve,” Johnson told reporters.
“But I’ve no doubt this country can get ready and as I say, come out on World Trade terms.”
Johnson said talks were snagged on fish and a so-called ratchet clause which would keep Britain tied to EU rules.
“We’re always hopeful and as you know the negotiations are continuing, our team is still out there in Brussels,” he said. “If there’s a big offer, a big change in what they’re saying, then I must say that I’m yet to see it.”