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Trade talks began in March but more than five months later, little progress has been made, with both negotiating teams blaming each other for the repeated stalemates and lamenting the negotiating teams’ positions on crucial red lines. On Wednesday, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier again demanded the UK give some ground on several crucial red lines – predominantly fishing access and state aid – while also sarcastically wishing London “good luck” with surviving a no-deal Brexit. He had already warned a deal must be agreed between the two sides by the “strict” deadline of October 31 – exactly two months before the end of the transition period.
This latest outburst came 24 hours after Downing Street blamed Brussels for the lack of progress in trade talks following last week’s round of negotiations. The eighth round of talks begins in London next week.
Wyn Grant, a Political Scientist and Politics Professor at the University of Warwick, warned the continued stalemate in negotiations means the prospects for a Brexit deal are “not good”, with both sides so far unprepared to give ground on crucial red lines, predominantly fishing access and state aid.
He admitted that while a Brexit deal is more important to the UK than the EU, Britain could end up walking away from talks if a breakthrough is not found over the coming weeks.
Professor Grant told Express.co.uk: “The prospects for the talks are not good.
“Barnier has said that the UK has not engaged constructively, although he still believes Boris Johnson wants a deal.
“Neither side is predisposed to shift on their red lines, particularly on state aid and fisheries.
“Barnier has said that he sees no change in the UK position. In the latter case, the positions remain polarised.
“Issues have also arisen about water standards, electricity trade and UK hauliers operating inside the single market.
“The UK could well decide to walk away from the negotiating table. A Brexit deal is more important to the UK than the EU.
“It is looking less and less likely that a deal will be agreed, so a no deal Brexit is looking probable.”
On Wednesday, a raging Mr Barnier said: “The EU has repeatedly shown flexibility and creativity to work with the UK’s red lines – on the role of the European Court of Justice, on preserving the UK’s legislative autonomy and on fisheries.
“It is time for the UK to reciprocate on those issues that are fundamental for the EU.”
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The EU’s chief negotiator appeared particularly frustrated at Britain’s continued stubborn stance on fisheries, accusing the UK of shunning its offers of a compromise.
He said: “Since the start of these negotiations, the UK has not shown any willingness to seek compromises on fisheries.
“The UK Government’s position has not evolved in the past months.”
“Obviously the UK will recover the full sovereignty of their waters. No doubt. No question.
“But it is another thing, another story, speaking about the fish which are inside those waters.
“Where the EU has shown openness to possible solutions, the UK has shunned our offers.”
Mr Barnier also wished the UK “good luck” in surviving a no-deal Brexit, warning there would be a “huge difference” between striking a trade agreement and a no-deal exit at the end of the transition period on December 31.
He said: “Sometimes I listen to the UK speaking on the chance of no deal, the reporting of no deal. Good luck. Good luck.
“But frankly speaking, there is no reason to underestimate the consequences for many people.”
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