Brexit negotiators Lord Frost and his EU counterpart Michel Barnier announced on Friday evening they would put a halt to discussions after a week of intense talks in London. In a joint statement, the pair stated “significant divergences” remained on key issues including fishing, governance and the so-called level playing field on competition.
Both sides are now staring down the barrel of a no deal outcome with just weeks to go until the official end of the transition period on December 31.
Following the latest breakdown, it was confirmed the Prime Minister will hold an emergency call this afternoon with European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen to try and end the impasse.
Fishing has proved the major stumbling block with the EU failing to respect the UK’s position of becoming an independent coastal state.
Britain has vowed to leave the controversial EU Common Fisheries Policy and take back control of its 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zone.
Mr Barnier has been under mounting pressure from European member states, including France, not to back down on gaining access to UK waters.
The EU warned an overall free trade deal hinges on a fishing agreement and according to EU sources the UK has shown some scope for movement on quotas.
Reports coming out of the EU negotiating camp this week suggest the UK has made a climb down and offered to take back control of just 60 percent of its waters – down from the original 80 percent figure.
France’s Europe minister, Clement Beaune has again pilled the pressure on the UK to compromise and warned Emmanuel Macron will veto any Brexit deal if his fishermen do not get what they want.
Speaking on Friday, Mr Beaune said: “I want to tell our fishermen, our producers, the citizens who are listening that we will not accept a deal with bad terms.
“If a good agreement cannot be reached, we will oppose it.
“Each country has a veto right, so it is possible. We will do our own evaluation of this draft deal, if there is one.”
Even if a deal is struck in the coming days it would need to be approved by MPs in the House of Commons and each of the 27 EU member states to become law.
In a joint statement following the end of talks on Friday, Lord Frost and Mr Barnier said: “After one week of intense negotiation in London, the two chief negotiators agreed today that the conditions for an agreement are not met, due to significant divergences on level playing field, governance and fisheries.
“On this basis, they agreed to pause the talks in order to brief their principals on the state of play of the negotiations.”