Brexit: Raab says UK 'can't close the door' on continued talks
The Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab had refused to close the door on the possibility of the trade talks with the European Union continuing past the Sunday deadline. Hours later Boris Johnson ageed with European Union chiefs that talks on a post-Brexit trade deal will continue after negotiations re-started in the Belgian capital at 8am UK time. The two leaders had agreed during a dinner meeting last week that Sunday marked the deadline for a firm decision to be made on whether to continue the talks.
Mr Raab said there was no exact time he could give for the phone call between Boris Johnson and Europe’s top official Ursula von der Leyen, saying it would take place “later on today”.
He told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme: “The exact time is not quite clear yet but it’ll happen later on today.
“I think it’s important. The technical talks matter – getting creative solutions, understanding each other’s positions really matters.
“But what ultimately is required at this eleventh hour of the negotiation is moving the political logjam.
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“That can only happen at the level of the Prime Minister and Commissioner von der Leyen.”
Asked whether talks could continue past Sunday, Mr Raab said: “I can’t close the door on it but I think there is a way that the EU’s got to go to give us the reassurance on those two points.
“Of course if we’re 99 percent there on the outstanding issues, you wouldn’t want to leave any stone unturned but I think it’s quite a high bar.”
Sir Ivan Rogers, Britain’s former ambassador to the EU, said he suspects there will be movement on the deadline.
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“I think it’s odds against today, but I’m not sure the talks will break down today either,” he told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme.
“Most of these deadlines in Brexit over many years have carried on being broken and I suspect this might be the latest, but we will see.”
The possibility of a delay comes amid a row over fisheries after the UK and France clashed over what future arrangements should look like in terms of allowing European trawlers to access British territorial waters.
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French President Emmanuel Macron is said to have threatened to veto a UK-EU trade deal after expressing dissatisfaction at the new quota terms being thrashed out for his fishermen.
Mr Raab told Marr it is “crazy” of the French to make “aggressive demands” when a no-deal scenario would leave their boats with “zero assured access” to UK fishing grounds.
The Government has also sparked anger after confirming that four Royal Navy gunboats have been placed on stand-by to guard British waters from EU trawlers if there is no agreement.
First Secretary of State Mr Raab said the UK is “going to exercise full control in the way I think people would expect over our fisheries” but said any enforcement would be “proportionate”.
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