UK risks no-deal Brexit by refusing to compromise, says Barnier

2 September 2020, 15:43 | Updated: 2 September 2020, 16:42

Mr Barnier said it was the UK's 'responsibility' to make a compromise or else risk a no-deal Brexit
Mr Barnier said it was the UK's 'responsibility' to make a compromise or else risk a no-deal Brexit. Picture: PA
Rachael Kennedy

By Rachael Kennedy

The UK has been warned it is facing a no-deal Brexit by refusing to compromise in the ongoing trade negotiations deadlock, according to Michel Barnier.

Brussels' chief negotiator said on Wednesday that he is now "worried and disappointed" after informal talks with his counterpart, David Frost, at Downing Street ended without concessions.

Speaking after a speech hosted by Dublin's Institute of International and European Affairs think tank, he said a "breakthrough" was needed in order to reach a "strict deadline" for a trade deal next month ahead of the end of the transition period on 31 December.

READ MORE: UK must 'not surrender' to EU over fisheries

"If the UK wants a deal with us and a fair agreement for a zero-tariff, zero-quota access for British access to our market of 450 million consumers then they will have to move and it is their choice, it is their responsibility," he said.

"We are ready to make fair and constructive compromise but not at the detriment of the EU."

Downing Street has already acknowledged that such a deal "will not be easy to achieve" in comments after the meeting, and which comes before an eighth round of formal negotiations next week.

But Mr Barnier said there had been no "change in position" from the UK, and added: "This is why I express publicly that I am worried and I am disappointed because, frankly speaking, we have moved.

"I've shown clearly openness to find compromise.

READ MORE: EU being 'unnecessarily difficult' in trade talks - No 10

"If they don't move on the issues which are the key issues of the EU, the level playing field, fisheries and governance, the UK will take itself the risk of a no-deal."

Mr Barnier also issued a "good luck" to people who have looked upon the idea of a no-deal positively as he also rejected the idea of livelihoods of fishermen and women being "used as a bargaining chip in these negotiations".

He added: "Frankly speaking, there is no reason to under-estimate the consequences for many people, many sectors, of a no-deal - it will be a huge difference between a deal and a no-deal."

READ MORE: Post-Brexit trade deal with EU 'will not be easy to achieve'

Also in his comments, Mr Barnier said he would miss Phil Hogan - the Irishman who resigned as the EU's trade commissioner after controversy around coronavrius regulations - as he thanked him "warmly" for his service.

He said: "I will miss Phil Hogan on whom I could always count to relay any Irish concerns to me very directly over the last four years."

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