EU negotiations 'like Groundhog Day,' former UK international trade secretary claims

Former International Trade Secretary Liam Fox has accused the EU of repeatedly raising the same issues during negotiations, instead of working to find a compromise, likening the situation to “Groundhog Day.”

Speaking on Sky News, Fox criticized European Union bureaucrats for constantly focusing on “the same discussions in the same order,” accusing them of turning negotiations into “Groundhog Day” rather than working with the United Kingdom to find a mutually beneficial compromise that provides a path to a Brexit trade deal. 

Fox served in then-Prime Minister Theresa May’s Cabinet, as the secretary of state for international trade from 2016 to 2019, working as a key figure in the initial stages of the UK’s Brexit talks, alongside then-Foreign Secretary and then-Brexit Secretary David Davis. 

Highlighting the divide between EU negotiators and the heads of government in member states, the former minister stated that there is a growing divide between the groups. Fox cited the Irish Taoiseach’s remarks over the weekend, where claimed that a no-deal Brexit would be “very damaging.” 

On the other hand, the ex-international trade secretary argued that EU bureaucrats are focusing on political matters, rather than addressing the trade negotiations on the table, stating that a deal should have been easy, as tariffs, standards, trade law and regulations have already been agreed. 

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The EU’s Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier has argued that the bloc is willing to compromise but there are two issues that need to be resolved: fair and free competition and reciprocal access to fishing waters and the markets. As negotiations continue, Barnier is due to speak to ambassadors from all of the EU’s member states this afternoon to provide an update on the trade talks.

Negotiations were set to end on Sunday but with no agreement on the table the UK and EU both supported extending the talks in the hope of reaching a last-minute deal. However, time is running out, as any deal that is secured will have to receive approval from the UK Parliament, members of the European Parliament and governments across the EU.

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