Politics Explained

Will the UK and EU resume talks on a trade agreement?

Johnson might be playing charades with his recent statements about Brexit but he is also playing with fire, writes Andrew Grice

Tuesday 20 October 2020 18:53
 Michel Barnier speaking at his press conference following the meeting
Michel Barnier speaking at his press conference following the meeting

A diplomatic dance between London and Brussels is continuing, as they hold “talks about talks” on whether to restart their stalled negotiations on a trade agreement.

David Frost, Boris Johnson’s chief negotiator, held his second phone call in two days with Michel Barnier, his EU counterpart, on Tuesday. But hopes among EU officials that they could head to London for real talks were dashed when Downing Street said nothing had yet changed.

Earlier the European Commission tried to meet a key UK demand by accepting that both sides would have to make compromises – a statement of the obvious, but one No 10 wanted to hear.  But UK officials argued this did not go far enough, as it did not amount to a “clear assurance” by the EU of the “fundamental change in approach” Mr Johnson demanded when he declared the talks “over” last Friday.

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