James O'Brien explains the issue holding up the Brexit talks

23 July 2020, 14:49

By Adrian Sherling

James O'Brien explained the issue holding up the Brexit talks - the UK are trying to backtrack on what they had already agreed.

The latest round of talks between the UK and EU ended in a stalemate with the UK's chief negotiator David Frost warning that the UK needs to plan for all circumstances, including a no-deal Brexit.

His EU counterpart Michel Barnier said the UK were refusing to accept the terms of the previous agreement on the "level playing field" of regulations on goods, as well as fisheries.

And James said part of the issue is that Brexiters aren't clear on what they have already voted through.

Speaking on his LBC show, he said: "Part of the problem, as Mark Francois demonstrated quite perfectly in a letter to Barnier recently, is that he didn't really understand what the Withdrawal Agreement had agreed to already.

"It's almost Greek in its tragedy. It got Johnson over the line, talking about an oven-ready deal and pretending that he'd managed to set up something different from what Theresa May had failed to get through the House of Commons.

"And they all got so excited and caught up in the emotion of the moment. But that Withdrawal Agreement has parts that are legally binding and the EU are not really going to step back from the bits they'd already agreed. And that's one of the reasons why things are in such a state."

James O'Brien explained the hold-up in the Brexit talks
James O'Brien explained the hold-up in the Brexit talks. Picture: LBC / PA

LBC's Westminster Correspondent Ben Kentish confirmed: "There's bits in the political declaration that was agreed that the EU has since accused the UK of going back on. That part is not legally binding in the way the Withdrawal Agreement is. But the UK agreed to it nonetheless.

"The government hasn't necessarily denied that, interestingly. The government simply say it wasn't legally binding."

Fisheries is also an issue that the two parties cannot agree on and James pointed out: "We shouldn't mock fisheries, it's almost as big a part of the UK economy as Harrod's."