Brexit: Alok Sharma calls on EU to respect UK's 'sovereignty'
A deadline for the talks to conclude had originally been set for Sunday, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen agreed to an extension. During a “constructive” phone call last week, the pair discussed “major unresolved topics” between the two sides, which comprises mainly of fishing and fair competition in business. Mr Johnson and Ms Von der Leyen agreed to tell negotiators Michel Barnier and Lord David Frost to continue talks in a bid “to see whether an agreement can even at this late stage be reached”.
And while the two sides strive to strike a deal beneficial to all parties, people have largely been gearing up for a no-deal exit from the Bloc.
Brussels officials have reported Ms Von der Leyen as saying the “probability of a no deal is higher than of a deal”.
In a statement following the Prime Minister’s visit to Brussels, the EU Commission President said: “We gained a clear understanding of each other’s positions. They remain far apart.”
But while hopes of a deal appear to have fizzled, the dooming predictions could just be a dupe from the EU and UK in an effort to successfully conclude the negotiations.
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Managing Director of Eurasia Group, Mujtaba Rahman, tweeted: “Everyone should ignore everything that has been said by both the UK and EU sides over the last 24 to 48hrs.
“It’s exactly what they would be saying if they were planning a deal.
“It’s exactly what they would be saying if they were planning no deal, It tells us absolutely nothing. Zero. Nada.”
Quoting the tweet with her own response, BBC Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg said: “No 10 is adamant they are not trying to send messages to the EU about seriousness, but trying to prepare the country for what is very likely on Sunday… but there may well also be something in this!”
Ahead of the negotiators’ meeting in Brussels last week, Business Secretary Alok Sharma said the UK was “not going to be walking away from these talks”.
Mr Sharma, however, added “quite significant progress” would be required in a number of areas for an agreement to be reached.
In addition, both the EU and UK may choose not to walk away from talks as they are fully aware a deal would be fruitful for both sides, while no-deal would bring damaging consequences for both the 27-member-state Bloc and Britain.
Mrs Von der Leyen said it was “responsible at this point to go the extra mile” despite a series of previously missed deadlines.
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German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said he was confident that, in the end, “the talks will not fail”.
Mr Haas added: “We believe an agreement is difficult but still possible. We will keep negotiating… as long as a crack of the window is open.”
Writing for the Telegraph, Oliver Wright said: “[No-Deal] will be more likely but people on both sides believe that would be a self-inflicted economic wound at a time when the pandemic is already causing huge disruption.
“The worry could move the red lines on both sides.”
Professor Alex de Ruyter, director of Birmingham City University’s Centre for Brexit Studies, told Express.co.uk a deal is possible but admitted it would take “significant further movement”.
Mr de Ruyter said: “The mood music has certainly improved over the past 24 hours.
“There have been rumours about potential ways forward around unfair competition and level playing field provisions.
“Nevertheless, the reality is that getting a deal over the line is likely to require significant further movement.”
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