LONDON – As Brexit talks resumed in Brussels, Britain said on Monday (Nov 16) its red lines remained unchanged but that it hoped to reach a trade deal with the European Union if the bloc chose to make progress.
The United Kingdom left the EU in January but the sides are trying to clinch a deal that would govern nearly US$1 trillion (S$1.35 trillion) in annual trade before transitional arrangements end on Dec 31.
“Our red lines haven’t changed and we’re preparing for whatever the outcome is,” Health Secretary Matt Hancock told Sky.
“Of course our preference is to get a deal, and that is open to the Europeans if they choose to make the progress that’s needed,” he said.
Britain’s chief negotiator, Mr David Frost, said on Sunday that there had been some progress over recent days and that the two sides had common draft treaty texts though significant elements were yet to be agreed.
“We may not succeed,” he said. “We are working to get a deal, but the only one that’s possible is one that is compatible with our sovereignty and takes back control of our laws, our trade, and our waters.”
The talks will be in real trouble if there is no major breakthrough over the next week to 10 days, Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said on Monday.
“We really are in the last week to 10 days of this. If there is not a major breakthrough over the next week to 10 days then I think we really are in trouble and the focus will shift to preparing for a no trade deal and all the disruption that that brings,” Mr Coveney told Ireland’s Newstalk radio station.
“I think the British government understands only too well what’s required for a deal this week. The real question is whether the political appetite is there to do it. I think we will (get a deal), that’s been my prediction for a while, but I won’t be shocked if it all falls apart.”