Deadline looming

Britain likely to walk away from EU trade deal

Port of Grangemouth

Talks are due to end on the latest round of negotiations

Britain and the European Union will fail to sign a post-Brexit trade deal with only a few days left before Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s July deadline, according to Whitehall sources.

The UK government’s assumption is that there won’t be a deal and that Britain will trade with Europe on World Trade Organisation terms.

The Daily Telegraph reports that it remains possible that a “basic” agreement could be reached if the EU gives ground in the autumn.

Negotiators are said to be deadlocked on issues such as fishing rights and the European Court of Justice.

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Businesses have already been advised to plan for a no trade deal exit at the end of the year.

The UK’s chief negotiator David Frost and his EU counterpart Michel Barnier are due to end the latest round of talks on Wednesday with no prospect of a breakthrough.

The EU insists the real deadline is October, providing time yet for agreement to be reached.

Britain is seeking a zero-tariff, zero-quota deal and Prime Minister Boris Johnson is prepared to tolerate WTO tariffs on goods and more red tape if the EU does not back down.

The Financial Times reports that senior government figures have concluded that a deal with the US is also unlikely before November as the two sides haggle over issues such as allowing US agricultural products into the UK.

“Is it going to happen this year? Basically, no,” one official told the FT.

US trade representative Robert Lighthizer has also played down the idea of any conclusive agreement before November. “That would be a very, very, very quick time. I think it’s unlikely that that happens,” he said at a recent congressional committee.

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