UK and EU in ‘last chance saloon’ to reach Brexit deal, say senior MEPs

The resumed Brexit talks are continuing in London for the rest of the week with fisheries and the Irish border issue among the main sticking points.
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By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

11 Nov 2020

The British and EU negotiators resumed their protracted talks on Monday and a European Commission spokesman confirmed they will “cover all areas” and go on for the rest of the week.

The two sides are still seeking an ever-elusive breakthrough on trade as Britain’s end-of-year deadline to leave the bloc looms large.

On Tuesday, two members of Parliament’s UK Coordination Group (UKCG) told this website that the two sides are now in the “last chance saloon.”

German member David McAllister, who chairs the group, said, “The current negotiations between the European Union and the United Kingdom have definitely entered the final negotiation phase.”

The EPP member said, “Both teams must now work intensively to conclude an agreement, the sooner the better.”

“The current negotiations between the European Union and the United Kingdom have definitely entered the final negotiation phase. Both teams must now work intensively to conclude an agreement - the sooner the better”

David McAllister, UKCG chair

Similar sentiments were voiced by French member Nathalie Loiseau who told this website, “We are now in the last chance saloon as far as the negotiations are concerned, that is for sure.”

“After that, even if there were an agreement, the Parliament wouldn’t have time to analyse it and give its consent before December 31.”

The comments come after the UK government suffered a heavy defeat in the UK parliament’s upper chamber on Monday over proposed laws that would allow it to breach Britain’s EU exit treaty - a plan that has been criticised by US President-elect Joe Biden.

Biden tweeted on September 16 that anything that endangered the peace accord between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland would threaten Anglo-American trade.

The Internal Market Bill is designed to protect trade between Britain’s four nations after Brexit. It contains clauses that ministers say are needed to protect Northern Ireland’s delicate status as part of the UK but would also break international law in a “specific and limited” way.

“We are now in the last chance saloon as far as the negotiations are concerned, that is for sure. After that, even if there were an agreement, the Parliament wouldn’t have time to analyse it and give its consent before December 31” Nathalie Loiseau, UKCG member

But the House of Lords voted to strip those clauses from the Bill in a series of defeats for Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party.

The government, however, said it would retable the contentious clauses when the Bill returns to the Commons, where it had previously passed by 340 votes to 256.

A government spokesman said, “We’ve been consistently clear that the clauses represent a legal safety net to protect the integrity of the UK’s internal market and the huge gains of the (Northern Ireland) peace process.”

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