GMB: James Cleverly clashes with Piers Morgan over Brexit
Brexit trade talks are due to resume later today in a final bid to agree a post-Brexit trade deal in time for the agreement to be signed and ratified before the transition period comes to an end. EU sources claimed an agreement on the contentious fishing issue was close over the weekend, but this has been disputed by Downing Street. But what is happening with Brexit negotiations right now?
A Brexit trade deal between the UK and EU hangs in the balance with each split over the critical issues of fishing, the level-playing field and the deal’s governance.
The UK is concerned about who will be permitted to fish in its waters after the deal is agreed.
In terms of the level-playing field, the EU is concerned about the level of financial support the UK could provide to its own firms, which it claims would give them an unfair advantage.
The deal’s governance is another sticking point referencing concern about how any agreement they reach will be enforced.
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Negotiations resumed on Sunday, with the issues of fishing rights, competition rules and how to enforce agreed rules still causing problems.
The UK’s chief Brexit negotiator Lord David Frost will continue talks with the EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier today.
Mr Barnier reportedly spoke to the EU ambassador about the “divergences” which remain in place on Monday morning.
He said he was “realistic” about the prospects of a deal being reached.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to speak with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Monday.
Senior cabinet minister Michael Gove is due to meet with European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic in Brussels on Monday.
Mr Sefcovic tweeted: “I will meet Michael Gove today in Brussels to discuss the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement, including the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland.
“We are working hard to make sure it is fully operational as of January 1, 2021.”
On Monday, the controversial Internal Market Bill will return to the House of Commons.
Last month, the House of Lords removed the most controversial parts of the bill.
The Internal Market Bill includes certain clauses which could enable the Government to break international law, by overriding elements of its original Brexit withdrawal deal with the EU.
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The EU has spoken out against these clauses.
In October President von der Leyen published a statement about the controversial bill.
She said: “This draft Bill is – by its very nature – a breach of the obligation of good faith laid down in the Withdrawal Agreement (Article 5).
“Moreover, if adopted as is, it will be in full contradiction to the Protocol on Ireland / Northern Ireland.
“The deadline lapsed yesterday. The problematic provisions have not been removed.
“Therefore, this morning, the Commission has decided to send a letter of formal notice to the UK government.
“This is the first step in an infringement procedure. The letter invites the UK government to send its observations within a month.
“The Commission will continue to work hard towards a full and timely implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement. We stand by our commitments.”
The UK Government has admitted the Internal Market Bill makes provision to enable the UK to reach international law.
The Government argues the provision is needed, however, in order to protect the integrity of the UK and the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland.
Government minister James Cleverly told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme a post-Brexit deal with the EU is “nearly there”.
He said: “The vast majority of the elements of this agreement have been resolved and we’re now hanging on a small number of important areas where we don’t have an agreement.
“We’re nearly there but we are not quite there yet.
“And it may well be that we will not be able to resolve this in the timescale we’ve got, but we’re nearly there.”
It is speculated that a successful meeting between Mr Gove and Mr Sefcovic and a trade deal being agreed between the UK and EU.
The UK Government could drop the most contentious parts of the Internal Market Bill.
Speaking about this contentious clause on Monday, Mr Cleverly told Sky News: “Not having that in place would weaken our position and actually give an advantage to the EU negotiators.
“And, in a negotiation like this, it is really key that both parties negotiate hard – I’m sure the EU negotiators are negotiating hard, but so is David Frost (the UK’s chief negotiator) and our negotiating team.
“We do it in a spirit of positivity, but we do want to get a deal that works for the UK, an agreement that works for the UK.”
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