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Brexit trade negotiations have suffered another confidence blow after the European Union confirmed plans to launch legal proceedings against the UK over an alleged breach of the Withdrawal Agreement. Legal action is the latest coup de théâtre in the talks which have been going on tentatively as both sides show an unwillingness to budge on core issues. Professor of Economics Alan Winters told Express.co.uk chances of the negotiations concluding with an agreement are slightly over 50 percent.
Prof Winters said: “I should guess it’s a bit better than 50/50 that we get a deal of some sort.
“Both sides really want a deal and, in a sense, both sides are being a bit theatrical at the moment in their positions.
“But there’s clearly that can go very wrong with it and ends us up with no deal. Each side, I think, is now prepared to walk away.”
The ninth round of Brexit negotiations took place over the past week before the monthly EU leaders’ summit in Brussels.
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Prime Minister Boris Johnson is scheduled to talk with Commission President Ursula von der Leyen after she announced the EU will pursue legal action against the UK because of the Internal Trade Marker Bill.
According to Brussels, the legislation would amend the withdrawal agreement the Westminster Government signed up to in January.
Mr Johnson has long insisted the bill would protect the smooth passage of goods among UK nations in the event of a no deal but his Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis admitted last month the passage of the legislation would breach international law.
Despite the concerns expressed both in the UK and across the world, the Internal Market Bill cleared the Commons on the third reading on Tuesday.
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The infringement proceedings could take up to three years to conclude. The UK has faced 94 such actions against the Government in the over 40 years of membership of the European Union.
Despite UK negotiator Lord Frost confirming there is still a chance of securing a deal before October 15, the Government announced a £200 million funding package to ensure UK ports are ready for trade changes come January 1.
The package will allow ports to secure extra money to prepare for the bureaucratic changes they could face from the start of the new year.
Michael Gove insisted progress has been made in the latest round of talks on a “huge number of areas.”
Mr Gove said: “There are still one or two sticking points on state aid, the level playing field and fisheries, but I think with goodwill on both sides we will achieve resolution, and I know this government is determined to do so.
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“But we have clear red lines and it’s vitally important that we maintain our faith with the electorate and ensure on January 1 we leave the EU single market and customs union and take back control.”
But BBC Europe editor Katya Adler suggested clear divergence remains on the contentions issue of fishing.
The UK has long maintained they want to regain full control of British waters while the EU has been calling for continued access for European vessels.
Ms Adler said French President Emmanuel Macron is now being urged to drop his demands to ensure a trade deal is agreed before the end of October.
She tweeted: “Macron is under pressure to compromise his maximalist position on fishing rights for EU fishermen in UK waters but it’s politically very sensitive for him.
“He already has 2022 presidential elections on his mind. Key rivals could accuse him of sacrificing French interests.”
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