UK close to abandoning Brexit trade deal hopes

As of 2021 Britain may trade with Europe under WTO terms

With the latest round of Brexit trade negotiations started last Monday on London, both sides are on the brink to leave hopes for signing a post-Brexit trade deal, with only a few days left before PM Boris Johnson’s July deadline, British media reported.

According to the Daily Telegraph, British government's central working assumption is that Britain will start trading with Europe under World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms when the transition period ends on 31 December. This will mean tariffs would be applied to most goods which businesses send and full border checks for goods, which could lead to long queues at ports.

The latest round of talks between David Frost, the UK's chief negotiator, and the EU's Michel Barnier is set to conclude on Thursday, with no expectation of a breakthrough on either side. Britain wants Brussels to drop demands for EU members to maintain current fishing rights in UK waters. The talks are deadlocked also on the so-called "level playing field" guarantees, governance of the deal and the role of the European Court of Justice.

Senior sources said there was now an assumption that "there won't be a deal", though it remains possible that a "basic" agreement could be reached if the EU gives ground in the autumn. The UK wants a Brexit free trade deal with the EU but is prepared for a no deal, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said last Wednesday. The last round of talks is scheduled to take place in August but Downing Street refused to say if that would be the final chance to strike a deal.

The Prime Minister has repeatedly warned that Britain will walk away if an agreement cannot be reached. A senior source told the Telegraph: "The Government has been making it clear for a while that it is prepared for a no deal. "Britain isn't going to budge on fundamentals like fishing rights, so it's all in the hands of the EU."

Britain is pursuing trade deals with other countries and setting up its own sanctions regime, and has previously insisted it should not have to sign up to the bloc’s standards. A spokesman for Johnson said last Monday Britain will continue to engage constructively with EU in talks on a future relationship, but that London is not willing to give up its rights as an independent state.

Negotiations between the UK and EU have been difficult from the very beginning as both sides have argued strongly on particular points. Reportedly post-Brexit talks with the EU have turned sour after the UK escalated tensions by accusing Brussels of only offering a "low-quality" trade deal. The UK has said the EU is asking for too much, while the EU has said the UK is unwilling to compromise and that Britain needs to adhere to EU rules to ensure fair competition. The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier accused the UK of attempting to “pick and choose the most attractive elements of the single market without the obligations.”

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