EU exposed: UK tears apart Brussels plot to hold secret new Brexit talks

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The EU dubbed the private trade talks “Le Submarine”, with the aim to negotiate a deal away from public scrutiny or criticism. But the UK is concerned this is a ploy to push through controversial concessions or blame Britain if the talks do not go their way.

A source told The Sun: “Obviously we are ready to up the pace but people are getting too over excited – there still is a long way to go and fish remains very tricky.”

The EU has now dropped its demands for the two sides to reach an agreement on the areas still causing conflict, including fishing arrangements and state aid.

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier also agreed to work on a joint draft version of a free trade agreement this week to help protect the future relationship.

This would be known as a “consolidated legal text”.

Mr Barnier is also expecting the UK’s chief negotiator David Frost to provide more details of fishing proposals and state aid.

This comes as the ninth round of trade talks are taking place this week.

The Internal Market Bill will also sit its third reading in the Commons later today.

The EU has reacted furiously to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plan to override Northern Ireland legislation in the Withdrawal Agreement.

Executive Commission deputy head Maros Sefcovic held talks with Michael Gove, the minister in charge of the divorce deal, on Monday.

He warned afterwards that the EU still believes the Bill is a “serious violation” of international law.

He said: “The UK’s positions are far apart from what the EU can accept.

“We maintain that the bill, if adopted in its current form, would constitute an extremely serious violation of … the Withdrawal Agreement and of international law.”

But Mr Gove said the clauses of the Internal Market Bill that undercut the Withdrawal Treaty would remain.

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He said: “We want to make sure that the Withdrawal Agreement is implemented in full.

“But those clauses are there, they’re in legislation … And those clauses will remain in that bill.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman added the UK’s focus was on progress in trade talks.

He said: “Although the last two weeks of informal talks have been relatively positive there remains much to be done.

“We simply want the standard free trade agreement … we continue to be asked to accept provisions that do not reflect the reality of our status as an independent country.”

European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen admitted during conference in Lisbon on Monday that a post-Brexit deal could still happen.

She added the EU was “working hard” on it.

Ms von der Leyen said: “Our economies, on both sides of the Channel, were severely hit by the pandemic and we should do everything possible to find an agreement that is manageable so we do not increase the negative impact on our economies.”

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