Britain’s chief Brexit negotiator said Thursday it was clear that London will not achieve its goal of striking a preliminary July agreement on the UK’s exit from the EU.
“It is, unfortunately, clear that we will not reach in July the ‘early understanding on the principles underlying any agreement’,” David Frost said after the latest round of negotiations ended in London.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson last month said he wanted British business to know by the end of July whether a deal was within striking distance or if they should start preparing for a messy no-deal split when the post-Brexit transition period ends on December 31.
Britain officially left the bloc after nearly 50 years of membership on January 31 but still largely operates as if it were an EU member state.
The ongoing talks are aimed at striking a brand new agreement on trade and other areas such as rights to fishing waters and data protection rules.
But months of talks have made little headway because Britain refuses to accept many of the conditions the EU demands for open access to its economic market.
“Although we will continue energetically to seek an agreement with the EU, we must face the possibility that one will not be reached,” Frost said.
“We must, therefore, continue preparing for all possible scenarios for the end of the transition period at the end of this year,” he said.