Negotiators from the UK and the EU held full and constructive discussions last week via video conference led by David Frost, the UK’s chief negotiator. The talks covered trade in goods and services, fisheries, law enforcement, criminal justice and other issues, in which both sides engaged constructively. There was, however, no movement on the most difficult areas where differences of principle are at their most acute, notably fisheries, governance arrangements and the so-called level playing field.
We have now reached an important moment for these talks. To make progress, we need to accelerate and intensify our work, and the Government are working closely with the EU to achieve that. It is our priority to conclude this negotiation in good time to enable our citizens and businesses to have certainty about the trading terms that will follow at the end of this year and, if necessary, to allow any ratification of agreements reached. We have always been clear that such a deal must of course accommodate the reality of the UK’s well-established position on the so-called level playing field, on fisheries and on the other difficult issues, and fully recognise the UK as a sovereign equal.
The House should also be aware that this Friday, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and I will be at the second meeting of the withdrawal agreement joint committee. We will be able to update the committee about the positive progress the UK is making on implementing our obligations, not least on citizens’ rights and the Northern Ireland protocol, but we will also emphasise that we will not be extending the transition period, and will push the EU on implementing its obligations under the terms of the agreement.
The Government remain committed to our negotiations with the EU and the implementation of the withdrawal agreement and will continue to keep the House updated on developments.