21:55 GMT27 October 2020
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    British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had extended Thursday's cut-off point for a draft agreement on post-Brexit free trade with the EU amid signs of progress. But on Friday he told the country to prepare for a no-deal outcome after the leaders of the 27 remaining members refused to compromise.

    UK trade negotiator Lord David Frost has told his EU counterpart Michel Barnier not to bother turning up to talks on Monday unless the bloc is willing to make a deal.

    A 10 Downing Street spokesman said on Friday that Frost had personally updated Barnier on Prime Minister Boris Johnson's position after a meeting of European Union (EU) heads of government refused to compromise on key sticking points.

    “Lord Frost said that, as the PM had made clear, the European Council’s conclusions yesterday had left us without a basis to continue the trade talks without a fundamental change in the EU’s approach to these negotiations," the spokesman said.

    "There was accordingly no basis for negotiations in London as of Monday," he added. "He and Michel Barnier agreed to talk again early next week."

    On Thursday the European Council - the leaders of the 27 EU member states - told the UK it was not ready to moderate its demands for the UK to stick to regulations banning state aid to industries and for continued fishing rights in British waters in return for tariff-free trade with the bloc.

    Johnson had set Thursday as the deadline for a framework deal to be agreed before the post-Brexit transition period ends on December 31.

    But this week he said he would extend that limit after signs the Council might compromise, as German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the bloc needed to be "realistic" on fishing access. Germany, along with France, Italy, Spain, Sweden and Czechoslovakia, are major exporters of cars and other manufactured goods to the UK, which made up almost a fifth of the pre-Brexit EU economy. 

    But after Thursday's snub the PM announced on Friday at lunchtime that Britain must be prepared to trade with Europe "on simple principles of global free trade" as Australia currently does.

    "It's becoming clear the EU don't want to do the type of Canada deal that we originally asked for," Johnson said. "It does seem curious that after 45 years of our membership they can offer Canada terms they won't offer us."

    French President Emmanuel Macron led the opposition at the European Council meeting to compromise on fishing rights - where foreign trawlers currently take three quarters of the catch from British waters - in return for continued access to the large UK market for road vehicles, electronics and other goods.

    “It's not the job of the leaders of the 27 countries who have decided to stay in the EU to keep the British prime minister happy,” he said.

    But the French leader had to admit that his country's fishermen faced a straight choice between catching fewer fish across the channel or none at all.

    "If there is no deal, European fishermen will have no access to British waters whatsoever. That is the reality," Macron conceded. "If there is a deal, will the situation be the same as it is today? No, that's for sure."


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