BRUSSELS/LONDON (Reuters) – The European Union said on Friday there were just hours left to strike a Brexit trade deal while Britain called on the bloc to see sense as the two sides race to prevent a turbulent finale to the Brexit crisis at the end of the month.
Both London and Brussels are demanding the other compromise amid a flurry of often conflicting messages that, variously, a deal is possible, a deal is in serious trouble or that a deal is imminent.
Several hours after EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier told London that there were just hours left to navigate a “very narrow” path towards a deal, Johnson said the British door was open but that the EU should see sense and compromise.
“It’s the moment of truth,” Barnier told the European Parliament in Brussels. “There is a chance of getting an agreement but the path to such an agreement is very narrow.”Johnson said Britain would keep talking but that he would not compromise on taking back control of its laws and its fishing waters – which he sees as the fundamental point of leaving the EU.“Our door is open, we’ll keep talking but I have to say things are looking difficult,” Johnson told reporters. “We hope that our EU friends will see sense and come to the table with something themselves – because that’s really where we are.”A British source said talks were due to continue on Saturday.Britain formally left the EU on Jan. 31 after its 2016 referendum but since then, it has been in a transition period under which rules on trade, travel and business remain unchanged. That period ends on Dec. 31.An accord would ensure that the goods trade which makes up half of annual EU-UK commerce, worth nearly a trillion dollars in all, would remain free of tariffs and quotas.