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The Prime Minister is starting off his week in self-isolation after coming into close contact with COVID-positive Conservative MP Lee Anderson, but this morning a minister said if he needs to speak to the EU leaders he would do so on Zoom. His quarantine comes as Lord Frost arrived in the Belgian capital on Sunday for the next cycle of talks with Michel Barnier amid the looming December 31 deadline.
Sir John took to Twitter to urge Mr Johnson not to cave under pressure from the EU as both sides continue to battle it out for a free trade deal.
He tweeted: “The EU is still calling for the UK to meet its demands. No deal is better than their deal.
“The UK must not surrender its fish, nor its sovereignty.
“We voted to leave, not for a bad agreement.
“If the EU now wants a deal they should honour their promise of free trade.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock this morning said “our red lines haven’t changed” as he reiterated the Government’s desire to strike a trade pact.
Mr Hancock said a deal would only be possible if the EU chose to make progress.
He said: “Our red lines haven’t changed and we’re preparing for whatever the outcome is.
“Of course our preference is to get a deal and that is open to the Europeans if they choose to make the progress that’s needed.”
As he arrived in Brussels on Sunday, Lord Frost said there had been “some progress in a positive direction in recent days” but said “significant elements” of draft treaty texts have yet to be agreed.
While he said he and his team would strive to reach a deal, he admitted “we may not succeed”.
He said any agreement would have to respect Britain’s right to retain control of its laws, trade and rich fishing waters.
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He wrote: “We are working to get a deal, but the only one that’s possible is one that is compatible with our sovereignty and takes back control of our laws, our trade, and our waters.
“That has been our consistent position from the start and I will not be changing it.”
Last week the departure of Mr Johnson’s chief adviser Dominic Cummings from Number 10 raised questions about the direction post-Brexit talks would take.
A Downing Street source denied Mr Cummings’ exit would impact negotiations.
Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney warned there will be no EU-UK trade agreement if Mr Johnson pushes ahead with legislation that would allow Britain to break international law.
Mr Coveney again expressed concern at the Internal Market Bill being championed by the Prime Minister in Parliament.
Downing Street has insisted it will press on in the Commons with elements of the proposed legislation that would allow the Government to break international law despite the House of Lords voting against them in recent days.
Mr Coveney told Sky News: “Even if we do get a new trade deal negotiated by both sides, if the British Government is determined to continue with their Internal Market Bill – to reintroduce parts of that Bill that were removed by the House of Lords this week – then, I think this is a deal that won’t be ratified by the EU.
“Because there is no way the EU will agree to ratify a new agreement if the British Government is breaking the existing agreement that is not even 12 months old, and breaking international law by doing that.”
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