Alok Sharma speaks during a virtual news conference in London, Britain. File/Reuters
Brexit trade talks are in the difficult phase and a deal can only be struck if the European Union accepts that Britain is a sovereign nation, a British minister said on Friday after London indicated that the chance of a breakthrough was receding.
With less than four weeks left until the United Kingdom finally exits the EU’s orbit on Dec.31, both sides are calling on the other to compromise over fishing, state aid and how to resolve any future disputes.
As talks go down to the wire, a senior British government source said on Thursday that the prospect of a breakthrough was slipping but was still possible.
“We are at a critical phase,” Business Secretary Alok Sharma told Sky TV. “It is fair to say that we are in a difficult phase, there are some tricky issues still to be resolved.”
“Right from the start of this process, we’ve always said that a deal can only be done if the EU recognises that the UK is a sovereign independent nation,” Sharma said. “It is on the basis of that a deal will be done.”
Britain formally left the EU on Jan.31 but has been in a transition period since then under which rules on trade, travel and business remain unchanged. From the end of the year it will be treated by Brussels as a third country.
If the two sides fail to reach a deal, the five-year Brexit divorce would end in disorder just as Europe grapples with the vast economic cost of the COVID-19 outbreak.
A no-deal exit is the nightmare scenario for businesses and investors who say it would snarl borders, spook financial markets and sow chaos through the supply chains that stretch across Europe and beyond.
A British source said the EU had disrupted talks by trying to wrench further concessions at the last minute.
“At the eleventh hour, the EU is bringing new elements into the negotiation. A breakthrough is still possible in the next few days but that prospect is receding,” a government source said.
EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier is due to update 27 national envoys to the bloc’s hub Brussels on Friday on the latest in the talks.
EU sources said discussions centred around the so-called level playing field on state aid and fixing future minimum labour and environmental standards, as well as what “effective remedies” each side could take if the other let them slip.
French European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune said on Friday that if a good deal could not be reached, then France would veto it.
Britain’s Brexit crisis tipped the country’s construction industry into its sharpest fall in a decade in June, a survey showed, in a stark sign of how quickly the world’s fifth-biggest economy is slowing.
Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) is making a multi-million pound investment to build electric vehicles in Britain, in a major boost for the UK government and a sector hit by the slump in diesel sales and Brexit uncertainty.
The weeks before Easter are usually some of the busiest of the year for bankers, lawyers and consultants in the City of London, as clients rush to get deals done before a run of public holidays. But this year comparatively little has been happening.
Japanese businesses with links to Britain say they have no immediate plans to flee the country as its government seeks to hammer out terms of its exit from the European Union, a Reuters poll found. Many said they would take a «wait-and-see» stance toward Brexit.
It was a tough competition till the end but Emirati Mohammed Abdullah Bin Dalmook displayed consistency and top form to emerge victorious en route to grabbing the third ticket to the semi-final round called Golden Square of the 21st edition of the Fazza Championship for Youlah.
A new test, considered a breakthrough, which determines whether one is infected with the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in five minutes from the normal 30 minutes, has been invented.
The winning numbers for Friday night’s drawing were 4, 26, 42, 50 and 60, with a Mega Ball of 24. The winning ticket was purchased at a Kroger store in the Detroit suburb of Novi, the Michigan Lottery said.
Dr Aliza Haidar did her MRCP in psychiatry from the United Kingdom and she had married a couple of years ago. According to some media reports, Dr Aliza was the only daughter of Dr Azhar Hussain and a mother of three children.