Britain will hold continuous negotiations with the EU from now on in a bid to achieve a breakthrough in Brexit talks.
SkyNews reports that following a meeting with Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab in Brussels on Tuesday, the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier revealed discussions “are now entering the final stage”.
“We have agreed the EU and the UK will negotiate continuously from now on and Dominic and I will meet regularly to take stock and move the negotiations forward,” he said.
Mr Barnier paved the way for negotiations to yet extend beyond the next formal European Council summit on 18 October, which had previously been viewed as a deadline for striking a deal. He said a UK divorce agreement and political declaration on the future UK-EU partnership was needed “well before the end of the year” in order for it to be ratified on both sides. Mr Barnier added: “I am not going to say October, a few days here, beginning of November, but not much later than that certainly.”
Telegraph’s angle: Dominic Raab lashed out at “hair-raising scare stories” about a no deal Brexit at a press conference with Michel Barnier on Tuesday, as the EU’s chief negotiator warned that Brussels would not accept the blame for failure to strike an agreement. Britain’s new Brexit Secretary and Mr Barnier vowed to “negotiate continuously” to beat the looming deadline for Britain to leave the bloc, rather than rely on the now traditional rounds of negotiation.
If the UK and the Brussels cannot finalise a Brexit deal before 29 March 2019, Britain will crash out of the EU without a deal, which Mr Barnier warned would be “the most costly form of Brexit”. “We don’t want this option,” he added.
“To be very frank I do see a blame game starting against the EU in case of a no deal,” Mr Barnier told reporters at the European Commission in Brussels, as he warned it was unlikely there would be a deal before November.
The Guardian reports that senior UK and EU officials will gather on Wednesday to continue talks, while Raab and Barnier will meet next week to assess progress.
It was Raab’s third meeting with Barnier since David Davis quit his post in protest at Theresa May’s Chequers plan. The prime minister had proposed that the UK maintain a common rulebook for goods with the EU, while negotiating a special arrangement on customs. But Barnier has already shot down the proposals on customs, while EU officials are wary of undermining the single market.