Boris Johnson has knocked back the EU’s offer to restart Brexit trade talks, saying the olive branch from Brussels did not provide a “basis to resume talks”.
The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said today that Brussels was willing to “intensify” trade talks and provide legal texts in a bid to get the UK back to the negotiating table, after Johnson walked away on Friday.
Barnier’s comments came after a phone call today with the UK’s chief negotiator Lord David Frost.
A statement released by Downing Street said the conversation had been “constructive”, but there had not been enough assurances by Barnier to restart talks.
“The UK has noted the EU’s proposal to genuinely intensify talks, which is what would be expected at this stage in a negotiation,” the statement read.
“However, the UK continues to believe there is no basis to resume talks unless there is a fundamental change of approach from the EU.
“This means an EU approach consistent with trying to find an agreement between sovereign equals and with acceptance that movement needs to come from the EU side as well as the UK.
“The two teams agreed to remain in close touch.”
Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove told MPs today that the UK had walked away from talks, because the EU had been unwilling to intensify talks and provide legal texts in the negotiating rounds.
He also said there was no point negotiating unless Brussels made key concessions on fisheries agreements and state aid policy.
The EU is demanding that its member states retain the same access they had to UK fishing waters as they did when Britain was a part of the bloc.
Brussels is also asking the UK to sign up to a level playing field of business regulations, which would see the government agree to follow EU rules on state subsidy regulations.
Gove said that neither of these positions were tenable and the UK would not continue negotiations unless the EU moved on these issues.
“There’s no point in negotiations proceeding as long as the EU sticks with its position,” he said
“This country should get ready for 1 January 2021 for arrangements that are more like Australia’s – based on simple principles of global free trade.”