EU ramps up planning for a no-deal Brexit as talks fail to make breakthrough

Michel Barnier, the EU's Brexit negotiator, speaking at Queen's University in Belfast. Photograph: L

Michel Barnier, the EU's Brexit negotiator, speaking at Queen's University in Belfast. Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA. - Credit: PA

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier has been told to restart no-deal Brexit planning after both sides failed to make a breakthrough in talks.

Barnier has claimed that there are 'vast differences' remain between the two sides, with reports that the European Commission is now resuming its contingency planning for Britain leaving the bloc without an agreement by the end of the year.

According to the Express, senior members of the European Parliament's UK Coordination Group believe Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings are seeking a no-deal exit at the end of the year.

'It has been a while since I came to the conclusion that no deal is what the prime minister and Cummings actually want,' one MEP said to have told Barnier.

'If you read their team's attitude in the negotiations, it seems to fit that assumption quite well.'

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Last week Barnier warned that the UK side had failed to provide draft proposals on fisheries, a key proponent of talks.

He said: 'We need to find solutions on the most difficult topics. The UK cannot refuse to extend the transition and at the same time slow down discussions on important areas.'

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Both sides are pinning hopes of a breakthrough in the summer at a crunch meeting between Johnson and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen.

Johnson has so far ruled out an extension to the transition period due to the coronavirus outbreak.

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