Brexit negotiations will continue beyond Boris Johnson’s October 15 deadline, Michel Barnier tells EU ambassadors
Brexit negotiations will continue even if a deal is not reached by Boris Johnson’s October 15 deadline, Michel Barnier has informed EU ambassadors. Senior EU diplomats said Brussels simply did not believe that the Prime Minister’s threat to walk out of trade talks if a deal was not “in sight” by Thursday’s European Council summit. “Negotiations will continue. It is not a deadline,” a senior EU diplomat said on Friday. Negotiations between the two sides closed in London on Friday and will resume in Brussels early next week. Talks are expected to continue right up until Thursday afternoon. Diplomatic sources said that the week’s talks had been positive and that the summit could be a launchpad for intensive tunnel talks but only if sufficient progress was made on the major obstacles to a deal next week. The sides are still divided over the level playing field, especially subsidy law, and the enforcement of the deal. The diplomat said Mr Barnier needed “a bit more” before beginning secret, intensive “tunnel” or “submarine” talks. The EU has set a deadline of the end of October to avoid Britain leaving the transition period without a deal. It says that the agreement must be finalised by then to ensure there is time to ratify it before January 1, when the UK leaves the Single Market and Customs Union. The senior EU diplomat said he did not believe fisheries would be “a major impediment to an EU-UK agreement” even though Mr Barnier has told ambassadors Brexit means they will lose some of their share of the catch.