Brexit: Gunnar Beck says UK has saved €80bn from exit
Crunch talks over the UK’s future trading relationship with the EU will go down to the wire, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ms von der Leyen confirmed they will continue discussions. It was widely believed that the most likely outcome of the talks would see the UK walk away from the bloc without a deal. But in a last minute statement, the pair confirmed their desire to continue discussions in the hope a breakthrough can be reached.
Ms von der Leyen said they “think it is responsible at this point to go the extra mile”, with Mr Johnson adding that the UK “certainly won’t be walking away from the talks”.
Numerous challenges have faced both sides during the negotiations, but reports emerged that one of the main obstacles to a deal being secured was from Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel.
A source close to Britain’s negotiating team claimed Mrs Merkel wanted the UK to “walk across broken glass”, amid speculation that the talks would end in stalemate.
But the German leader, and Ms von der Leyen, were both warned that they shouldn’t expect to get the exact deal they wanted, and they needed to find a compromise.
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German MEP Gunnar Beck launched his scathing attack on both leaders during a European Parliament session earlier this year, claiming the bloc had held back the negotiations.
The EU lawyer said “Britain wanted a Canada-style deal and signalled some flexibility”, while “the EU in contrast barely moved”.
He continued: “Negotiations are discussions between parties with diverging views but a shared interest in finding a compromise.
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“The EU, notably Germany, has a vast trade surplus with the UK. Yet the German Presidency and the Commission remain committed to an unequal treaty on EU terms, and enforceable before the EU’s imperial court.”
Mr Beck added: “Merkel and von der Leyen know not to negotiate because they know not when to compromise.
“That way, they will not have their way.”
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A pact must be reached by December 31, otherwise the UK will continue its trading relationship with the EU on World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms.
Mr Johnson explained a deal is there “if our partners want to do it – but we remain very apart on these key issues”.
He said: “The UK can’t be locked into the EU’s regulatory orbit and we’ve obviously got to take back control of our fisheries, so those are the points – I think it’s very clear what the UK is talking about.”
Yet, he warned that the two parties were “still very far apart on key things”, adding: “The most likely thing now is that we have to get ready to WTO terms – Australia terms.”
One of the main sticking points regards fishing, with the UK demanding it take its waters back under its control.
This, however, has left the likes of France and the Netherlands unhappy, who have warned their fishing industries could be decimated as a result of such a deal.
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