Brexit talks have been paused due to “significant divergences” that still remain, negotiators have said, with plans for the UK and EU to “discuss the state of play tomorrow afternoon”.
Both Michel Barnier and David Frost shared statements signalling an inability for the two nations to agree on “level playing field, governance and fisheries” was the cause of the delay.
It comes after Downing Street admitted earlier that trade talks were at a “very difficult point”, with a spokesman for Boris Johnson telling reporters on Friday: “Time is in very short supply and we are at a very difficult point in the talks”. This was despite an EU official going on record earlier in the day to say a trade deal was “imminent” and could be expected this weekend.
Meanwhile, as wary France threatened to veto a bad deal, European Council president Charles Michel said the UK had “choices to make” over the final stalling points, while British ministers again insisted the EU must recognise UK’s sovereignty.
And with just days left to secure a deal and tensions already high in Brussels, Mr Johnson’s government announced it would bring two bills in possible violation of the Brexit withdrawal agreement before the Commons next week, which it claimed was necessary to prevent a border in the Irish Sea.
Mr Barnier reportedly told EU envoys such a breach of trust would plunge the talks into irreparable “crisis”.