The EU and UK are still yet to complete a deal as the deadline for an agreement is just around the corner. Brussels has demanded the UK accept a level playing field on regulation post-Brexit if the country is to keep access to Europe’s single market. The EU also wants to keep access to UK fishing grounds while Prime Minister Boris Johnson looks to take more control. An EU source said today that talks last weekend were “difficult” and “massive divergences” remain.
Brussels negotiator Michel Barnier will stay in London to resume talks.
With the conclusion of trade talks so close, the prospect of concessions – and which side will fold first – is a pivotal topic of debate.
Labour peer Peter Mandelson predicted earlier this year that the UK will try to avoid no deal as Mr Johnson doesn’t want the “disaster”.
He said in July: “If we left the European Union at the end of this year on WTO terms, we would pay both a short-term and a long-term price in doing that.
“It would be very serious for us. And coming on top of the whacking businesses and jobs have had from Covid.
“I mean, it doesn’t bear thinking about. Which is why I believe this Government, which has not lost all sense of perspective, I think would realise that it does need a deal.
“It can’t deliver a second whammy of that kind to the UK economy.”
More recently, figures in the EU have also predicted that Mr Johnson will accept the EU’s demands.
Philippe Lambert, Belgian MEP and president of the European Greens said Dominic Cummings’ recent departure from Government was “probably the sign that Johnson has begun his U-turn and will, in the end, accept EU conditions”.
A UK official responded by saying that David Frost and the UK negotiating team are “completely focused on the negotiations”.
READ MORE: Brexit fisheries: UK ‘needs EU more’ amid French taunt
The MP for North West Leicestershire said: “Barnier is an interesting character. But he has struggled with David Frost.
“He clearly preferred negotiating with Olly Robbins and Theresa May’s team, and he has struggled with the consistency of Frost.
“He has found these negotiations far more difficult. Ultimately Barnier will be feeding back to his EU allies. Ultimately his superiors will decide whether they want a free trade agreement.”