Boris Johnson gives the EU three months to seal a Brexit trade deal as face-to-face talks resume in Brussels
- The UK and the European Union are in currently talks over a Brexit trade deal
- UK PM Boris Johnson has set a deadline of three months to conclude the talks
- UK chief Brexit negotiator David Frost will take over as National Security Adviser
- Mr Frost travelled to Brussels for EU talks and takes over from Sir Mark Sedwill
Boris Johnson set a three-month deadline for concluding Brexit trade deal talks yesterday, as face-to-face negotiations resumed in Brussels.
Downing Street said the Prime Minister would not allow the talks to run beyond September because it would leave businesses with too little time to prepare for the end of the transition period in December.
No 10 confirmed that the UK’s chief Brexit negotiator, David Frost, will start his new job as the PM’s national security adviser at the end of August.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson (pictured) has set a deadline of three months for Brexit talks with the European Union to conclude
Mr Frost will not be replaced, but indicated that the Brexit negotiations would remain his top priority ‘until those negotiations have concluded’.
The PM’s official spokesman said this could mean Mr Frost doing both jobs for a time, but stressed this would be for a very limited period at most.
‘Talks can’t go on into the autumn,’ he said. Asked how long negotiations could continue, the spokesman said the PM was clear about ‘not wanting to be continuing having talks in October’.
The move sets a tight timescale for concluding negotiations. The deadline for extending the transition period beyond the end of this year expires today, and the PM’s spokesman confirmed the mechanism would not be triggered.
Downing Street also confirmed today that the UK’s chief Brexit negotiator, David Frost (pictured), will begin his new role as PM’s national security advisor at the end of August
This means that the UK will be fully out of the EU by January 1, with or without a trade deal. No deal would result in both sides levying tariffs on each other’s goods.
The PM had originally threatened to walk away from the talks at the end of this month unless a deal was in sight.
But officials acknowledge that the original timetable has been affected by the pandemic.
The new deadline emerged as Mr Frost travelled to Brussels for the first face-to-face negotiations with his EU counterpart Michel Barnier since the lockdown began.
Until now, talks have been held via video link – a process Mr Frost believes has hindered progress. He warned that ‘some of the EU’s unrealistic positions will have to change’.
He added: ‘UK sovereignty, over our laws, courts, or our fishing waters, is not up for discussion.’
The talks are stalled over the EU’s refusal to recognise the UK’s right to control its waters and set its own laws.
Mr Frost (pictured left) travelled to Brussels today to have face-to-face talks with his EU counterpart Michel Barnier (right)
Brussels wants EU trawlers to be guaranteed their current fishing rights in perpetuity, while the Government is insisting we should determine access on an annual basis.
The EU also wants a ‘level playing field’, in which the UK would not cut red tape imposed by Brussels.
Mr Frost made clear he was not interested in a ‘compromise’ plan, which would give Brussels the right to impose tariffs if the UK departed from EU regulations after Brexit.
He added: ‘The Government will not agree to ideas like the one currently circulating.’
The UK has tabled a separate compromise which would allow the EU to levy tariffs on a small number of ‘sensitive’ agricultural products in return for dropping its ‘level playing field’ demands.
Weekly talks will now take place throughout July, with the venue alternating between Brussels and London.