Brexit negotiators to present Brussels with draft trade deal within eight days

Brexit negotiators plan to present Brussels counterparts with a draft trade deal within eight days.

Senior Cabinet Minister Michael Gove said the UK would present a pact before the second round of talks, which starts next Wednesday.

The move came less than a week after the first set of negotiations broke up last Thursday.

In a written Commons statement, Mr Gove admitted “significant differences” remained at crucial flash points.

“Discussions in some areas identified a degree of common understanding of the ground that future talks could cover,” he said.

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“In other areas, notably fisheries, governance and dispute settlement, and the so-called ‘level playing field’, there were, as expected, significant differences.”

Revealing the timetable, he added: “The next negotiating round will take place on 18-20 March in London.

“The UK expects to table a number of legal texts, including a draft FTA (free trade agreement), beforehand.”

Earlier today European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said: "It will be important that the UK makes up its mind. The closer to the single market , the more they have to stick to the rules of the single market."

A UK spokesman said in response: “The UK will leave the EU’s customs area and the EU’s single market. We will not seek alignment with the EU in any way. This means that there will be new processes that exporters and importers will have to comply with, whether we reach an agreement or not.

"Obviously this will create some friction, and we will do what we can to mitigate that, but we are firmly convinced that the benefits of having control of our own laws outweigh the costs."

Britain formally left the EU on January 31 but immediately entered an 11-month transition designed to ease the path to a new relationship.

The UK and EU have until December 31 to strike a pact.

Boris Johnson has refused to extend the deadline.

Ministers have vowed to walk away from talks in June unless there was a “broad outline” of a deal.

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