Brexit trade talks between the UK and EU are back on just days after Boris Johnson walked away from negotiations.
A statement from the government said “we are ready to welcome the EU team to London to resume negotiations later this week” in a bid to get a deal done before the end of the transition period on 31 December.
Sterling jumped on the news, adding to daily gains against the euro and putting it at €1.108 this evening.
Chief UK negotiator Lord David Frost spoke to his EU counterpart Michel Barnier this afternoon, after days of public sparring.
“The Prime Minister and Michael Gove have both made clear in recent days that a fundamental change in approach was needed from the EU from that shown in recent weeks,” the statement read.
“They made clear that the EU had to be serious about talking intensively, on all issues, and bringing the negotiation to a conclusion. They were also clear that the EU had to accept once again that it was dealing with an independent and sovereign country and that any agreement would need to be consistent with that status.
“We welcome the fact that Mr Barnier acknowledged both points this morning, and additionally that movement would be needed from both sides in the talks if agreement was to be reached.”
This morning, EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier made loud overtures to the UK by indicating he was willing to compromise to get a trade deal in place before 31 December.
His comments were the most encouraging sign that talks would resume, after Johnson said on Friday that the UK would stop negotiating.
“An agreement is possible if we are both ready to work constructively and in a spirit of compromise over the next days, on the basis of legal texts,” Barnier said.
Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove told MPs on Monday that the UK had walked away from negotiations due to the EU’s unwillingness to “intensify” talks and its intransigence on fisheries and state aid policies.
Barnier said on Monday that Brussels was ready to intensify talks and start drawing up legal texts, however Downing Street said it needed to see a willingness from the EU to compromise on fisheries and state aid.
Barnier’s comments today may indicate that Brussels is ready to move its position on these two long standing barriers to a deal.
The EU is demanding that its member states retain the same access they had to UK fishing waters as they did when Britain was a part of the bloc.
Brussels is also asking the UK to sign up to a level playing field of business regulations, which would see the government agree to follow EU rules on state subsidy regulations.
Gove said that neither of these positions were tenable and the UK would not continue negotiations unless the EU moved on these issues.