Britain can still ‘very much’ seal a trade deal with Brussels but only if the EU gets real, the UK’s chief Brexit negotiator said last night.
Lord Frost appeared to raise hopes of a last-minute breakthrough, saying the past two weeks of informal talks ‘have been relatively positive’.
The message came as No 10 confirmed that EU negotiators had backed away from threats of a food blockade on Northern Ireland.
But it also comes just 24 hours after reports that the chances of a trade deal by next month’s EU summit deadline were no better than 50/50.
Britain can still ‘very much’ seal a trade deal with Brussels but only if the EU gets real, the UK’s chief Brexit negotiator Lord Frost, pictured, said last night
Lord Frost is due to travel to Brussels this week for further talks with EU counterpart Michel Barnier, pictured
It also follows Labour’s accusation that Ministers were responsible for a ‘carnival of incompetence’ after admitting that to avoid gridlock, some EU-bound lorries may be banned from entering Kent once the UK leaves the customs union and Single Market on December 31 if they do not have the correct documentation.
And in a statement released last night, Lord Frost – due to travel to Brussels this week for further talks with EU counterpart Michel Barnier – made clear there were gaps still to be bridged.
He said: ‘An agreement is still very much possible, but equally very far from certain. The last two weeks of informal talks have been relatively positive, but there remains much to be done, and time is short.’
Lord Frost reaffirmed that from the beginning the UK had been saying ‘we simply want a standard free trade agreement like Canada’s’ but ‘we continue to be asked to accept provisions which do not reflect the reality of the change which our exit from the EU brings’.
He added: ‘If the gaps in these areas are to be bridged, the EU still needs to scale back more of its unrealistic ambitions and work on more realistic policy positions.’