EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has said he is available to “intensify” trade talks, in a bid to get the UK back to the negotiating table, just moments before Michael Gove told MPs that Brussels needed to “fundamentally change” if a deal is to be done.
Barnier also said the EU would also prepare legal texts for negotiations, a key demand from the UK, meaning Boris Johnson may agree to re-engage in trade negotiations after walking away on Friday.
Gove said EU leaders had refused to agree to intensify trade talks this month and had still not prepared legal texts during negotiations.
The Cabinet Office minister said these factors, and the EU’s unwillingness to compromise on several key areas, led the Prime Minister to walk away from the negotiating table.
However, Barnier tweeted this afternoon that the EU was in fact “available to intensify talks in London this week, on all subjects, and based on legal texts”.
The statement came after Barnier spoke to UK chief negotiator Lord David Frost over the phone this afternoon.
“We now wait for the UK’s reaction,” Barnier said.
Gove, the minister responsible for the UK’s Brexit preparations, said the statement was a “constructive move”, but warned there cannot be the “illusion of engagement” in talks.
He told MPs that the EU would still need to make several key concessions for a trade deal to be reached before the end of the transition period on 31 December.
“We cannot accept the [EU] negotiators’ proposals that would require us to provide full, permanent access to our fishing waters with quotas substantially unchanged to those which were imposed by EU membership,” he said.
“We can’t operate a state aid system that is essentially the same as the EU’s with great discretion given to the EU to retaliate against us if it thought we were deviating from it.
“More broadly, we can’t accept an arrangement in which it means we stay in step with laws that have been proposed and adopted by the EU across areas of critical national importance.”