The British Government said on Sunday it still wanted a trade deal with the European Union, despite the impasse in EU-UK negotiations, but insisted that the ball was in the EU’s court.
Speaking on the Sky News TV channel, Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove said he still hoped for a deal, but blamed the European Union for the impasse.
“I want a deal, I’m keen to conclude one, but it takes both sides to compromise in order for there to be one. The EU side is not doing so at the moment,” Gove said. The EU was behaving “like an institution that is not serious about making the compromises necessary to secure a deal,” he charged
Sluggish negotiations between the two sides stalled even further on Thursday when the EU demanded concessions from London while saying that it wished to pursue efforts to clinch a post-Brexit free trade deal by the end of this year, when EU rules will no longer apply to the UK.
London reacted by conditioning the pursuit of discussions on a fundamental change of approach on the part of Europe.
A spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson even said that as far as the British were concerned, the talks had ended.
EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier and his British counterpart, David Frost, are scheduled to meet on Monday on the “format” of the discussions, according to the European Commission.
“The ball is in his court,” Gove said on Sunday, referring to Barnier. Speaking on the BBC, he said the door to negotiations was still ajar if the EU truly modified its position.
However, he also said that, should the two sides fail to reach an agreement that allows the United Kingdom to fully recover its sovereignty, London would not hesitate to opt for a no-deal on 1 January 2021.
This would be a devastating blow to economies already weakened by the novel Coronavirus pandemic, since it would entail the re-imposition of quotas and customs tariffs between the 27 and London.
The talks have stalled on three sticking points: access to the UK’s fish-rich waters, guarantees requested from London with regard to competition – despite recent progress – and how disputes will be resolved under a future agreement.