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BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg explained Brexit trade talks will finish up by the end of the next week because any trade deal would need time to be debated in European Parliament. The negotiations led by Lord Frost and Michel Barnier are expected to continue into tomorrow. In Westminster, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “Time is in short supply and for our part, we continue to work very hard to seek to bridge the gaps which remain between our two positions.”
Speaking on BBC Two’s Politics Live from Dublin, Ms Kuenssberg said: “We are coming very close to the deadline and the deadline here is not a political deadline, it is the deadline that this has to be wrapped up in order that the trade deal has time to be ratified in the European Parliament.
“That’s why there is a deadline of sorts which is regarded as being towards the end of next week.
“Mr Barnier has been in London, the talks are still stuck on those issues we know about.
“How do we share rules and regulations with the EU in business after the end of the transition zone, when we leave the departure lounge at the end of this year?
“How do you have a fair settlement over who can catch whose fish when it comes to the waters that surround the UK and the rest of the continent?
“There is a kind of political stalemate and here in Ireland, the foreign minister has said he thinks it’s quite possible it could fall apart and that would not shock him.
“Why does that matter? It matters to the economy and all sorts of other things because from January 1 things are going to be very different in terms of the wiring of how we do business with the EU.
“If there’s a trade deal, that transition could be quite smooth but if there isn’t a trade deal, it could be quite choppy and quite chaotic.”
It comes as controversial measures which tear up parts of the Brexit divorce agreement will not return to the Commons until the end of November at the earliest.
Peers, including dozens of senior Tories, voted to strip controversial clauses from the UK Internal Market Bill that would enable ministers to set aside key parts of the withdrawal agreement signed with the European Union, breaking an international treaty.
The Government has said that it still wants the measures, which have soured relations with the EU and the US president-elect Joe Biden, and MPs would be asked to put them back in the legislation.
But by delaying until the end of November, Boris Johnson will know whether progress has been made on a UK-EU trade deal which could take the heat out of the row with Brussels.
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On Monday night the Government suffered a 268-vote defeat over one element of the Bill, with 44 rebels including former Tory leader Lord Howard of Lympne, ex-Brexit minister Lord Bridges of Headley and former chief whip Lord Young of Cookham.
But Downing Street said the measures represented a “legal safety net” to ensure free-flowing trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We have been consistently clear that the clauses represent a legal safety net to protect the integrity of the UK’s internal market and the huge gains of the peace process.
“And we expect the House of Lords to recognise that we have an obligation to the people of Northern Ireland, to make sure that they continue to have unfettered access to the UK under all circumstances.”
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