Two weeks to chaos: Tory MP breaks rank to admit Brexit deadlock MUST be broken in 14 days

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Despite Prime Minister Boris Johnson setting a deadline of October 15, talks between UK negotiator Lord David Frost and EU counterpart Michel Barnier are ongoing – although both have acknowledged time is rapidly running out. The Tory MP, speaking on condition of anonymity, suggested there could be a resolution within two weeks at the very most.

If nothing is agreed by end of next week, it leaves little or no time for ratification across the EU.

Tory source

They warned: “If nothing is agreed by the end of next week, it leaves little or no time for ratification across the EU.

“Give or take, maybe a week.”

Speaking yesterday, Mr Barnier said “very serious divergences” remained between the European Union and UK, with efforts ongoing to try and strike a post-Brexit trade deal.

The Frenchman said the main stumbling blocks remained the level playing field aimed at preventing unfair competition on areas including state subsidies, fisheries policy and the governance of any deal.

Mr Barnier was speaking as he updated MEPs and EU diplomats on the status of the negotiations with Lord Frost, which have been taking place in Brussels.

He said: “Despite EU efforts to find solutions, very serious divergences remain in level playing field, governance and fisheries.

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“These are essential conditions for any economic partnership.”

Lord Frost said progress had been made but likewise acknowledged “wide divergences remain on some core issues”.

He added: “We continue to work to find solutions that fully respect UK sovereignty.”

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Despite failing to achieve a breakthrough, it is thought the pair will stay in contact by video conference calls, with further talks planned for next week in London.

The EU likewise believes a deal must be done by the middle of November if it is to be ratified by the time the UK leaves the single market and customs union on December 31.

Mr Barnier also stressed the EU was “prepared for all scenarios”.

Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney responded to Mr Barnier’s comments by tweeting: “A reminder that a #Brexit trade deal is far from certain.”

He added: “We must continue to prepare as a country for all outcomes.

“A deal remains doable but very difficult.

“Time is short. Thank u MichelBarnier for your calm and consistent approach.”

Meanwhile, Downing Street has insisted the extension of the furlough scheme into next year was not related to potential economic disruption which may result after the end of the transition period.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “That is absolutely not the case. The announcements made by the Chancellor today is part of the Government’s ongoing support for businesses affected by coronavirus.”

He also rejected as “simply untrue” suggestions from EU members that the UK was stalling for time in the negotiations until the conclusion of the US electoral process.

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