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David Frost believes both sides have just 34 days to broker the future relationship pact if it is going to be signed off at October’s European leaders summit. It comes after Mr Barnier, the European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator, said October 31 was the final moment to reach an agreement to ensure it’s in place before the transition period expires at the end of the year. But Downing Street hit back, insisting the bloc must now start properly engaging in the negotiations in order to conclude the pact.
A UK Government spokesman said: “As David Frost set out at the end of last week, an agreement with the EU is still possible, but despite useful discussions, little progress was made.
“Although there is still a lot of work to do, it remains our goal to reach an agreement and we’ll continue to work hard to do so.
“We have tabled a consolidated text to try and inject momentum into the talks, and we want to quickly move into text based discussions as time is short, and there remains a lot of detail to work through.
“The chief negotiators and their teams will remain in close contact over the next two weeks before the next Round in London, taking place on September 7.”
British negotiators have repeatedly voiced their frustration as Mr Barnier’s refusal to move talks forward until progress is made on the so-called level-playing field and access to the UK’s fishing grounds.
The Frenchman last week turned his nose up at the opportunity to begin jointly drafting a free-trade agreement.
During a speech in Paris yesterday, he accused the British of adopting “bad tactics” by trying to stall talks on areas where the EU has most interest.
“If we are to ensure the ratification of a new treaty in a secure way before the end of the year, we need to have an agreement by around October 31,” he added.
Mr Barnier and Mr Frost could reconvene for negotiations again next week in a bid to revive the process.
A European Commission spokesman said: “The EU is engaging constructively and in good faith. We are working hard with the UK to overcome the significant divergences that remain between us.
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“There will be contact between negotiators over the next fortnight. The next round of negotiations will take place on the week of September 7.”
In his, Mr Barnier also revealed he is releasing a explosive new book detailing his Brexit battles with Britain.
He claimed the memoir, taken from more than four years of diary entries, will help Europe “learn the lessons of Brexit”.
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The Frenchman praised Boris Johnson as “very intelligent and very pragmatic”, but said the PM had listened too much to people calling for a “Global Britain”.
In an attack on the UK’s post-Brexit future, Mr Barnier fumed: “These people has an political, ideological and perhaps philosophical idea of what their country must be.
“We also have those here, who see France with a rear view mirror or sort of nostalgia.”
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