France has accused the UK government of deliberately stalling Brexit trade deal negotiations.
Britain and the European Union remain deadlocked in their talks on future trade ties, with just four months until the transition period ends.
French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said negotiations were not advancing because of the ‘intransigent and unrealistic attitude of the United Kingdom’.
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He told his country’s ambassadors that the bloc of 27 nations will not buckle under pressure from London.
‘On Brexit we always showed unity and proved wrong those who saw signs of an overall implosion of Europe. It is in staying united that we can stick to our line of a global accord,’ he said.
But the UK government hit back, accusing the EU of making it ‘unnecessarily difficult to make progress’.
A spokeswoman said: ‘We have been clear from the outset about the principles underlying the UK approach: we are seeking a relationship that respects our sovereignty and which has a free trade agreement at its core, similar to those the EU has already agreed with like-minded countries.
‘However, the EU is still insisting not only that we must accept continuity with EU state aid and fisheries policy, but also that this must be agreed before any further substantive work can be done in any other area of the negotiation, including on legal texts, making it unnecessarily difficult to make progress.
‘We will continue to work hard to reach agreement and look forward to the next round taking place next week.’