Brexit: Negotiator David Frost says the UK is not afraid to leave

Brexit: Negotiator David Frost says the UK is not afraid to leave

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EPA

The UK’s chief negotiator, Brexit, has said the government is not “afraid” to pull out of the talks without a trade deal set to take effect in 2021.

David Frost told the Mail on Sunday The UK will abandon the transitional arrangement – which sees it following many EU rules – “come what it can” in December.

Instead, he said, Theresa May’s team was “blinking and bluffing.”

EU negotiator Michel Barnier said he was “concerned and frustrated” by the UK’s lack of concessions.

He was speaking after informal conversations between the couple failed to find a significant discovery.

An eighth round of formal negotiations begins on Tuesday.

Both sides want an agreement to be agreed next month, to be signed by politicians on both sides of the channel by the end of the transition period on December 31st.

The differences remain on issues such as the fisheries and the level of tax support that the UK can provide to businesses when it is an independent nation.

Lord Frost told the newspaper: “A lot of what we are trying to do this year is to make them realize that we mean what we are saying and they need to take our position seriously.”

“No surprise muscle flexion”

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Reuters

Analysis by Chris Mason, Political Correspondent, BBC News

The United Kingdom left the European Union in February, but by the end of December is in a transitional period where very little has changed.

The time left to negotiate a long-term agreement between London and Brussels is limited and Lord Frost’s language is provocative.

“We are not going to be a client state,” he says. “We are not going to accept provisions that lock us in the way the EU does things.”

While this is his first interview since the UK left the EU, officials in Brussels are familiar with his arguments. Someone described the remarks as “amazing muscle twitching”.

Sources there say that what they cannot accept is that the UK has the freedom to devalue the continent’s businesses in their own single market.

The time for compromise is approaching. This does not mean that it will not happen, but there is no guarantee.

In the interview, Lord Frost said the desire to control the country’s money and affairs “should not be disputed”.

“This is to be an independent country, this is what the British people voted for and this is going to happen at the end of the year,” he said.

“I do not think we are afraid of that at all. We want to take back our border control powers and that is the most important thing.”

The government was “fully prepared” to negotiate with the EU without a formal agreement, he said.

In practice, this would mean export taxes and customs controls.

It is a scenario that road hauliers say would cause “serious” disruption to supply chains, with border management systems not even working and ensuring that shipments are cleared to proceed to the EU.

Last week, the Road Haulage Association says UK ‘sleeping in disaster’.

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