Top UK negotiator issues EU officials with two-week ultimatum on Brexit talks

PUBLISHED: 12:54 18 May 2020 | UPDATED: 12:54 18 May 2020

Brexit negotiator David Frost has threatened to walk away from EU trade talks. Photograph: Number10Gov/Flickr.

Brexit negotiator David Frost has threatened to walk away from EU trade talks. Photograph: Number10Gov/Flickr.

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The UK’s chief Brexit negotiator David Frost has issued EU officials with a two-week ultimatum telling them government is prepared to walk away without a deal unless compromise could be found.

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Frost’s comments came as the second round of Brexit trade talks foundered last week after both sides failed to reach an agreement on fisheries and the level playing field.

Britain’s top Brexit diplomat said he was not willing to accept a deal unless the UK could trade with the bloc without being subject to EU regulations and European Court of Justice (ECJ) rulings.

The EU, however, say those requests would seriously undermine the single market. They claim the UK should have to adhere to different rules because of its size and proximity to Europe.

Despite UK commitments to “work hard to find an agreement” with counterparts across the Channel, no-deal planning is being ramped up across Whitehall.

No-deal planning committee meetings. which normally happen once to twice a week, have been occuring ‘regularly’ while civil servants who were moved from no-deal planning to help with the government’s coronavirus efforts have now returned, the Sunday Times reports.

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EU officials told the paper the UK government was bent on a hard exit. “I think this government may indeed want to go for a no deal,” an insider told the paper. “It’s politically not unattractive for a critical mass within the cabinet.”

MORE: Majority of Brits want Brexit trade deal with EU and expect longer transition period

Last Friday, the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, said negotiations had been “very disappointing”.

“I hope the next round in June and the one after in July will be more positive,” he said.

The UK has committed to publishing draft legal texts for all EU member states to review.

“The UK will continue to work hard to find an agreement, for as long as there is a constructive process in being, and continues to believe that this is possible,” Frost said.

Neither the EU or Britain has said they will seen an extension to the Brexit transition period despite a large number of UK voters thinking they should.

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