United Kingdom

Brexit: UK hopes Angela Merkel can break trade deal deadlock

Britain is pinning its hopes of striking a post-Brexit trade deal with the EU on Angela Merkel being able to 'unlock' Emmanuel Macron on the crunch issue of fishing rights, it was claimed today. 

There is growing optimism of a deal being done between the two sides but fisheries remains the major stumbling block to an accord, with France still refusing to budge. 

Mr Macron wants French trawlers to maintain their current access to British waters but Downing Street is adamant UK boats will be given priority. 

There is thought to be 'light at the end of the tunnel' on other crunch issues like state aid and the governance of the deal.  

The UK is hoping the German Chancellor can persuade the French President to give ground on fish in order to remove the final hurdle to a deal. 

It came as logistics bosses warned leaving the EU at the end of the year without a trade deal in place would have 'cost implications' for UK consumers. 

The UK Government is hoping German Chancellor Angela Merkel will be able to 'unlock' French President Emmanuel Macron on the crunch issue of post-Brexit fishing rights

Boris Johnson has said if the two sides cannot agree a trade deal then the UK will split from the bloc at the end of the transition period without an accord in place 

Hopes of the UK and the EU being able to agree a trade accord have risen after Michel Barnier decided to stay in London for longer than had been planned to continue formal talks. 

The EU's chief negotiator arrived on Thursday and had been due to go back to Brussels on Sunday but he will now remain here until Wednesday so talks can continue.   

However, while progress is being made in many areas UK sources warned the EU has not 'moved at all' on fisheries because of massive pressure from Paris.

Downing Street is said to be hoping for a major intervention from Ms Merkel to break the deadlock. 

A Whitehall source told The Telegraph: 'We are relatively optimistic but that doesn't mean it won't end in tears. 

'Fisheries is the biggest thing. We are hoping Merkel can unlock Macron on fisheries.'

Mr Barnier will resume intensive talks with UK counterpart Lord Frost today. 

Negotiations had been due to switch to Brussels this week with the decision to stay in London thought, at least in part, to be related to soaring coronavirus infection rates in the Belgian capital. 

However, Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis insisted yesterday the move was a 'very good sign' that the talks were progressing.

'I think there is a good chance that we can get a deal but I think it is for the EU to understand that it is for them to move as well,' he said.

Time is running short if there is to be an agreement before the standstill post-Brexit transition period comes to a close at the end of the year. 

The UK and the EU had previously said they would need to get a deal by mid-October if it was to be implemented in time.

Boris Johnson has said if there is no agreement, Britain will start trading with the bloc on 'Australian terms' – shorthand for World Trade Organisation rules - from January. 

However, the prospect of the EU imposing tariffs and quotas on UK goods has alarmed many businesses already reeling from the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

The head of Logistics UK, formerly the Freight Transport Association, today warned a no trade deal split would have 'cost implications' which will hit shoppers 'in their pockets'. 

Chief executive David Wells told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: 'No doubt the Government will argue that maybe the exporter will reduce their price to give you some sort of compensation. 

'Maybe the supplier or the importer may suck up some of the tariff, but in reality somebody somewhere has to pay for this and in a free trade agreement that with the EU that we have at the moment, there are no tariffs. 

'So to go to WTO rules, somebody somewhere is going to pay the tariff and ultimately I believe that will end up at the door of the consumer.' 

Mr Wells said he is still 'hoping for a deal' and that negotiating with the EU 'always goes right to the wire'. 

He added that 'leaving without a deal has cost implications which will impact them [consumers] in their pockets and this could be a serious inflationary impact on our economy'.

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