BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg exposes timeline stumbling block in Brexit talks

Brexit: Boris Johnson urges EU to ‘see sense’ on negotiations

The two sides have failed to reach a breakthrough on the future fishing arrangements between the two sides once the transition period ends on December 31. Talks were thrown into chaos earlier this month when the EU demanded unfettered access to Britain’s waters for 10 years. Mr Barnier asked for a transition period that would see the UK move from having catch quotas of around 18 to 20 percent of fish in UK waters to 50 percent in that time frame.

The UK had other ideas as it had already offered a three-year transition period on fishing arrangements and was said to be willing to offer an even longer transition of around five years.

This would mean the EU would have to hand back at least 50 per cent of its fish quotas from January 1 instead of the 18 per cent it had been offering.

Ms Kuenssberg suggested the EU did not want a transition period to end “too fast” in cases it did not get what it wanted, despite the UK wanting to be free of the bloc’s shackles as soon as possible.

The BBC’s political editor said: “An EU source suggested the Prime Minister wants to be “free” of any obligations to the EU by the time of the next election, but that the time frame is simply too fast for the EU to agree.

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“And on this side of the Channel, there is concern about how much the French President is really willing to move, might it be easier for him, given an approaching election, to ‘sell’ no deal, rather than create any impression that he has backed down to the UK?

“If you visit this page often, then you will be very familiar by now with the panto, ‘oh yes they will! oh no, they won’t!’ narrative of Brexit.

“That normally resolves with a happy ending. But don’t be so sure this time, in this strangest of years, that it will follow a familiar script.”

It comes as EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier warned there are “just a few hours left” to agree deal, despite fisheries still being an issue in talks.

Mr Barnier has refused to back down over the EU’s demands to be able to impose trade barriers should the UK change its regulations to offer substandard goods on the EU’s market.

With fisheries, Mr Barnier added the bloc wanted to be free to retaliate by blocking EU market access to UK fish products if it stops European ships accessing its waters.

The UK has said that after a transitional period it wants exclusive access to the zone six to 12 nautical miles from the British coastline, as well as the repatriation of 60 percent of the EU’s current catch by value in UK seas.

But French and Belgian fleets have been against this as they rely on catches from the UK coast, meaning Mr Barnier has said he cannot agree to this.

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Trade talks resumed this morning, with Mr Barnier saying the path to a breakthrough was “very narrow”.

He told the European Parliament in Brussels: “It’s the moment of truth.

“We have very little time remaining, just a few hours, to work through these negotiations in useful fashion if we want this agreement to enter into force on January 1.

“There is a chance of getting an agreement but the path to such an agreement is very narrow.”

He added he was being “frank with you and open and sincere” when he said that he was unable to say what the result will be from the “last home straight of negotiations”.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke to EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen last night, to check on the progress of the talks.

Downing Street said Mr Johnson thought it looked “very likely” a deal would not be agreed unless the EU backed down on its demands.

A Number 10 spokeswoman said: “The EU’s position in this area was simply not reasonable and if there was to be an agreement it needed to shift significantly.”

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