Brexit LIVE: Brussels chief brands UK ‘dramatic’ as tensions rise over trade deal

João Vale de Almeida, the EU ambassador to the UK, issued the warning after Boris Johnson’s Brexit negotiator David Frost rejected Brussels’ demand for Britain to follow EU laws in a “level playing field”. Mr Vale de Almeida called for both sides to “manage expectations” and “focus on the real issues”. The 63-year-old said: “It’s about positioning, it’s about managing expectation

“I don’t take it as anything dramatic, I think we should be cool about it and focus on the real issues.”

In a speech in Brussels, Mr Frost condemned the approach taken by the EU and insisted the UK would not follow EU laws after the transition period ends at the end of the year.

The Prime Minister wants a Canada-style trade deal which would leave the UK free from EU regulations.

Mr Frost said: “It is central to our vision that we must have the ability to set laws that suit us – to claim the right that every other non-EU country in the world has.

“So to think that we might accept EU supervision on so-called level playing field issues simply fails to see the point of what we are doing.

“It isn’t a simple negotiating position which might move under pressure — it is the point of the whole project.”

The UK and the EU have until December 31 to strike an agreement on the future relationship, and the Portuguese diplomat has also opened the door for an extension, despite the Prime Minister insisting the strike deadline would be honoured.

Mr Vale de Almeida insisted it was possible for a deal to be reached before the end of the year but said if no agreement was in place by July the EU would offer the UK more time.

He said: “Theoretically we can do it in a year, we can do it in more than a year, we will have to decide in July.

“What we know is by July we need to decide in agreement with our British friends or our British friends need to ask or not ask for an extension.

“I’m sure if the Brits request an extension we will look at it favourably, but according to the Government they have no intention of doing so. We’ll see.”

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10.30am update: Boris told how to ‘take advantage’ of EU in Brexit trade talks

Boris Johnson is firmly in the driving seat in trade negotiations and urged to “take advantage” of the opportunity to trade simultaneously with the EU and the rest of the world, an expert has said.

Ben Harris-Quinney, chairman of independent think-tank The Bow Group said as the UK can now trade with international markets it will “strengthen our hand” with Brussels.

The Chairman of The Bow Group said the access to new markets will also make the UK “less reliant” on securing an agreement with the bloc in just 11 months time.

Mr Harris-Quinney said: “One of the most important things that occurred on January 31 was opening up the ability for Britain to begin trade negotiations with other countries.

“This is a huge opportunity for Britain to develop alternative trade arrangements that will make us ever less reliant on our relationship with the EU.

“Provided Britain can take advantage of this, it can not only strengthen our hand in negotiating with the EU but also better inform our process and what areas we should be emphasising.”

10.10am update Blue passports to be issued next month

The Government has announced the iconic blue passports will be issued for next month to mark Britain’s exit from the European Union.

The new-look design will replace the burgundy passport which were rolled out in 1988.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “Leaving the European Union gave us a unique opportunity to restore our national identity and forge a new path in the world.

“By returning to the iconic blue and gold design, the British passport will once again be entwined with our national identity and I cannot wait to travel on one.”

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