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EU negotiator Michel Barnier warned agreeing a deal before the deadline currently “seems unlikely”, as he suggested Britain is “wasting valuable time”. His UK counterpart David Frost also warned “there has been little progress” after the conclusion of the seventh round of talks on Friday. Brexit Party chairman Richard Tice has said the chances of a trade deal with the EU is “diminishing all the time”.
Speaking to talkRADIO, Mr Tice said: “Barnier always seems to be disappointed every week at the end of these negotiations.
“I think that’s encouraging because it sounds like David Frost and his team have held firm and held to our red lines.
“You and I know this is going to go to the eleventh hour.
“I still think the likelihood of a deal is diminishing all the time.
“My expectation is a partial deal that allows both sides to claim that they’ve held on to their key red lines.
“At this time of economic crisis it’s absolutely vital that we don’t concede regulatory alignment and we don’t concede having to beg Brussels for any form of state aid.
“The Government is going to have to invest in and protect our key industries and businesses in an extraordinary way that we’ve never envisaged before.”
Both sides accept time is running out to broker a deal before the transition period comes to a close at the end of the year, which would see UK firms facing high tariffs for trade.
Mr Frost said he believes an agreement can still be struck, but he accused the EU of ruling out “any further substantive work” unless the UK accepts the bloc’s state aid rules and fisheries policy.
He added: “This makes it unnecessarily difficult to make progress.”
A senior negotiating official for the UK insisted “it’s not us that’s slowing it down”, and ruled out accepting Mr Barnier’s position: “Obviously we’re not going to do that. So it’s frozen.”
After a breakfast meeting between the top negotiators at the close of the talks in Brussels, Mr Barnier was equally as pessimistic about progress.
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He told a press conference: “Too often this week it felt as if we were going backwards more than forwards.
“Given the short time left, what I said in London in July remains true.
“Today at this stage, an agreement between the UK and the European Union seems unlikely.
“I simply do not understand why we are wasting valuable time.”
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