The UK has rebuffed Brussels’ offer of intensified trade talks next week, telling the European Union’s chief negotiator there is “no point” him coming to London on Monday.
After Boris Johnson accused European leaders of having “abandoned the idea of a free trade deal” the UK’s chief negotiator, Lord Frost, spoke with his counterpart Michel Barnier to tell him not to make the trip across the Channel next week.
The pair, however, pledged to speak “early next week” in an indication that hopes of talks continuing have not been entirely extinguished, despite Downing Street telling reporters the negotiations were now “over”.
A Number 10 spokesman said: “Lord Frost has spoken to Michel Barnier to update the EU on the Prime Minister’s statement.
“Lord Frost said that, as the PM had made clear, the European Council’s conclusions yesterday had left us without a basis to continue the trade talks without a fundamental change in the EU’s approach to these negotiations.
“There was accordingly no basis for negotiations in London as of Monday.
“He and Michel Barnier agreed to talk again early next week.”
The spokesman, in a briefing on Friday, said there was “no point” in Barnier travelling to London unless the 27 member states were willing to alter their position or wanted to discuss sector by sector arrangements to prepare for no deal.
“The trade talks are over. The EU have effectively ended them by saying that they do not want to change their negotiating position,” the spokesman said.
Speaking at the end of the summit in Brussels, European Council president Charles Michel said the EU was ready to carry on with negotiations.
“We are ready to negotiate, we are ready to continue the negotiations and I hope it will be possible to make progress in the future,” he said.
“We are determined to reach a deal but not at any cost.”