British PM, Boris Johnson has ruled out an extension of the Brexit transition period with just nine days left in which to ratify an agreement before the deadline ends.
It is believed that the Prime Minister held secret talks with EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Monday evening to try and find a breakthrough.
The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier is expected to update the EU member states 27 leaders on progress, although there is thought to be no sign of an imminent deal.
It comes as SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon and London Mayor Sadiq Khan encouraged the Prime Minister to delay negotiations and to continue to follow EU trading rules beyond the December 31 deadline.
It is feared that if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, it would only compound the current chaos due to the pandemic and the recent revelation that a new mutant strain was engulfing the UK.
In a tweet, she said, “It’s now imperative that the PM seeks an agreement to extend the Brexit transition period. The new Covid strain - & the various implications of it - means we face a profoundly serious situation, & it demands our 100% attention. It would be unconscionable to compound it with Brexit”.
Sources from the EU said that sticking points still remained including access to UK waters and fishing quotas, competition rules and an agreement on how any disputes would be resolved.
It is believed that under current proposals set out by the UK’s chief negotiator, David Frost, Britain would demand that there is a 35% reduction in the catch value in British waters, down from the initial 60%.
Frost’s counterpart, Michel Barnier wants the figure to be closer to 25%.
Boris Johnson has also suggested that the new quotas could be phased in over a five year period, up from the three years initially proposed.
The UK will continue to follow the EU trading rules until the transition period ends on December 31 but once it ends will exit the internal market and customs union.
If a trade deal is not agreed, the UK would have to trade with the EU under World Trade Organisation rules meaning that both sides could impose import taxes and tariffs on each other’s goods, bumping up the prices of everyday items.
Mr Johnson’s attitude towards a no-deal Brexit remains unchanged saying “There are problems. It's vital that everyone understands that the UK has got to be able to control its own laws completely, and also that we have got to be able to control our own fisheries."
The PM said the UK would “prosper mightily”, despite the outcome of the negotiations.
Image Credit: No 10 Flickr
January 14, 2021