In Brief

UK ‘brinkmanship’ risks ending chances of Brexit deal, Barnier claims

Government’s down-to-the-wire negotiating strategy dubbed 'a recipe for disaster'

Britain’s brinkmanship in negotiations could pave the way to a no-deal Brexit, the European Union’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier has warned.

Speaking to national ambassadors in Brussels, Barnier said that “very serious divergences” remain between the EU and UK’s positions on fisheries, governance and trade, Reuters says.

An unnamed EU diplomat told the news agency that “the UK does not seem to be engaging sufficiently on key issues... given this situation a no-deal outcome still can’t be excluded”.

The EU fears Lord David Frost, Barnier’s British counterpart, is “keeping the most politically sensitive dossiers” of the talks “open to create leverage”, The Times reports.

Negotiations resume in London on Sunday, with Johnson and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen expected to meet for crunch talks if an agreement is not reached by the end of next week.

Ratifying any deal could take up to six weeks, so both sides are keen to agree terms by November 16 in order to honour the December 31 deadline. However, according to the Financial Times, Barnier told MEPs in a separate meeting this week that the two parties are not “on a trajectory for a deal”.

Barnier cited the unwillingness of British negotiators to budge on topics like “non-regression” from labour and environmental standards, viewed by insiders as one of the easier level-playing-field issues, the FT adds.

In a tweet, Frost yesterday said: “Progress made, but I agree with Michel Barnier that wide divergences remain on some core issues. We continue to work to find solutions that fully respect UK sovereignty.

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