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Michel Barnier travels to London for face-to-face Brexit talks

Significant differences remain between the EU and the UK.

Image: Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

THE EU’S CHIEF Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier will travel to London today for talks with his UK counterpart David Frost.

Last week, discussions between the two sides on a post-Brexit trade deal broke up early with “significant differences” remaining.

But Barnier and Frost will meet face-to-face in London today, before talks with the rest of their teams on tomorrow.

The UK’s chief negotiator Frost said last week that though the ability to meet in person had given “extra depth and flexibility” to the discussions, there was more to do.

Barnier said that while Brussels had engaged “constructively”, officials needed to see an “equivalent engagement from the UK side”.

“Our goal was to get negotiations successfully and quickly on a trajectory to reach an agreement,” he said. “However, after four days of discussions, serious divergences remain.”

It had been hoped the face-to-face meetings – agreed following a high-level conference call last month between Boris Johnson and the European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen – would inject new momentum into the process.

Johnson has been adamant he will not allow the discussions to drag on into the autumn, arguing that British businesses and citizens need certainty on the way forward before then.

If the two sides are unable to reach a deal by the end of the current Brexit transition period at the end of the year, it will mean Britain leaving the single market and the customs union without any agreement on future access.

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