The negotiators have made progress during talks in London this week towards resolving some of the biggest issues thus far, raising hopes a deal can be agreed by early November. Both sides have started work on the text of an agreement on the level playing field and are edging closer to finalising a joint document covering state aid. The UK and EU have also moved closer to deciding essential aspects of how any accord will be enforced. But significant differences still remain – particularly on the level playing field, enforcement and fishing – but the progress made over is an encouraging sign they are moving closer to breaking the deadlock following seven months of often bitter talks.
There has been a notable shift in mood and gears over recent days, with London and Brussels now working hard to finalise as many chapters of a potential agreement as possible.
But the threat of a major collapse in a Brexit deal still remains strong, with EU officials stressing they view any deal as a single agreement where nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.
Fishing remains a major stumbling block, with both sides still arguing over what rights EU boats will have to British waters and their share of the quota after Brexit.
France is one of a number of coastal states demanding continued access to waters between six and 12 miles off Britain’s coast – an agreement they benefitted from before Brexit.
Negotiators believe if these issues continue to be a problem, it will require major and urgent political intervention from leaders Boris Johnson and Emmanuel Macron.
But France’s Europe Minister has issued the UK with another brutal warning, insisting “there is no reason” to bow to demands from the British.
Clement Beaune told the Senate: “The face of Brexit will be the face of our fishermen, so we must be able to tell them that their interests were protected.
“There is no reason for us to give in to British pressure.”
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The EU faces a devastating blow to its steel industry if the UK leaves the bloc without a trade deal in place.
A leading official in the EU’s steel industry has warned a no deal Brexit would be hugely destructive for business.
The expert warned the impact of Britain leaving on WTO terms would be exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, which is currently in its second wave.
Alessandro Sciamarelli, an official with the European Steel Association (Eurofer), told a webinar: “Brexit remains a threat because there’s a high likelihood that we will get at the end of the day a no-deal.
“We are getting prepared for that.”
He added: “At Eurofer, we are very much against a no-deal Brexit.”
8.15am update: UK to reject Trump-style ‘Britain First’ trade police post-Brexit
The UK will turn its back on a Donald Trump-style “Britain First” post-Brexit economic strategy with criticism of “values-free globalisation” in a keynote speech in London.
International Trade Secretary Liz Truss will say in a Chatham House address she wants a “values-driven free trade agenda” following Brexit, and will stress the UK is “learning from the mistakes of the past” regarding trade.
The Cabinet minister will also criticise the “mercenaries of global trade” and the agenda of “values-free globalisation”, which she woll say has lef to state-owned firms selling subsidised goods throughout the world and “undermining free enterprise”.
Ms Truss will say that at a time of “America First” and the EU’s “strategic autonomy”, the UK “will not be pulling up the drawbridge in an autarkic Britain First approach”.
She will add protectionism and a “values-free” approach to globalisation have had a “corrosive effect on the foundations of our rules-based free trade system, spreading disillusionment and distrust”.
The International Trade Secretary will also take a dig at Brussels, branding the EU “innovation-phobic” with “its high tariff wall”.
8am update: ‘Disastrous slump in UK car output’ – Brexiteer warning
Tory Brexiteer John Redwood tweeted: “Further disastrous slump in UK car output whilst still in the EU single market.
“The threat to U.K. car manufacture was always the policy of stopping diesel and petrol Vehicles, and now anti virus policies, not Brexit.”