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Brexit news: Michel Barnier angers France in last-minute Brexit talks | Politics | News

The EU’s chief negotiator will talk with European ambassadors later today over France’s concerns of the terms of a trade deal with the UK. Mr Barnier has been in London to hold last minute talks with David Frost to strike a deal before the UK leaves the EU on December 31.

The meeting will take place at 7:30am today, with Mr Barnier expected to give an online briefing to Brussels’ ambassadors.

The negotiator is said to reassure diplomats he will not cave to the UK’s demands and will strike a fair deal.

It comes as EU diplomats have claimed the European Commission has received a “serious warning” that it was making dangerous concessions on redline issues, according to The Telegraph.

France is concerned that Mr Barnier is giving too much ground on fishing and state aid contributions, which they claimed “risked dividing member states”.

READ MORE: Brexit fisheries row: EU branded ‘selfish’ as Brussels bloc told to ‘budge’ in tense talks

French President Emmanuel Macron has been vocal about maintaining EU access to British waters, as proposed changes to shares hit France hard.

Speaking yesterday, Mr Macron threatened he would vote down a Brexit deal that gives too much access to British waters away.

He said: “The preservation of our fishermen in British waters is an essential condition.

“France will not allow an agreement that does not respect our interests.”

Other EU members have questioned whether the Commission, headed by Ursula von der Leyen, is willing to agree on any deal.

A European diplomat said to the Telegraph: “There is a growing unease among member states that Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, egged on by Germany or not, is doing whatever it takes to get a deal.”

Mrs von der Leyen said the UK and EU are discussing a level playing field system that would ensure no regression on standards for environment laws and labour rights among other issues.

She added: “We will see how the next days will go, we want an agreement, but not at any price”.

It comes as British MPs have warned the UK is still not ready for Brexit, with just four weeks until the transition period ends.

The Commons public accounts committee, a cross-party MP group, said: “There are still significant risks to the country being ready for the end of the transition period on December 31, 2020, but Government still only seems to be taking limited responsibility for that readiness.

“Industry bodies have said that Government has not provided key information needed by businesses to prepare, such as detailed guidance on how to apply for simplified customs procedures.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the UK will “prosper” regardless of a deal with the EU, but has added he remains hopeful one can be agreed.


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