U.K. Dismisses EU Offer as Decision Day Dawns: Brexit Update

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The U.K. dismissed the European Union’s latest offer in the Brexit negotiations as “unacceptable” hours before the two sides are expected to decide whether to pull the plug on the discussions.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen are set to speak at about noon Brussels time. One of the key hurdles to any trade accord, the British government says, is the EU’s demand that the U.K. follow future changes in the bloc’s rules and regulations.

Johnson’s government warned citizens and companies to expect disruptions at the border starting next month and blamed business for not doing enough to prepare. In a further sign that his officials are preparing for no deal, the Sunday Telegraph reported that ministers are drawing up a 10 billion-pound ($13 billion) package to bail out the worst-hit industries.

Read more:EU Trade Offer Unacceptable, U.K. Government Official Says

Key Developments:

  • Johnson and von der Leyen set to speak at noon (CET)
  • EU envoys are set to discuss Brexit on Sunday afternoon
  • Talks could continue beyond this evening, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab says

@MamerEric

Update to the agenda of President @vonderleyen:
phone call with UK Prime Minister @BorisJohnson around noon on the negotiations. (Brussels time)11:02 AM · Dec 13, 2020

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Raab: Signal Needed from EU on Fish, Playing Field (9:50 a.m.)

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen needs to give Boris Johnson a signal that the bloc will alter its position on fisheries and the level playing field if the talks are to continue beyond Sunday.

“The bar is quite high for us to be able to keep talking,” Raab said. “We would need, at a political level, a commitment to move on those two issues.”

Johnson-von der Leyen Call Confirmed (9:45 a.m.)

Boris Johnson and Ursula von der Leyen are expected to speak at about lunchtime on Sunday, two officials with knowledge of the discussions said.

Labour: Johnson Playing ‘Russian Roulette’ (9:30 a.m.)

Boris Johnson is threatening to “blow up” jobs and livelihoods with his approach to the trade talks, according to the main opposition Labour Party’s business spokesman, Ed Miliband.

“He is playing Russian roulette with jobs and livelihoods,” Miliband told the BBC. “No deal is a disastrous outcome for the country. It’s not a wonderful outcome. It’s a disgrace.”

Miliband also said Labour would be “minded” to support a deal if the government strikes one.

Ireland’s Martin Sees Prospect of a Deal (9:25 a.m.)

Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin said he still sees a chance the U.K. and EU will reach an accord.

Martin told BBC News on Sunday that 97% of the deal has already been struck, and that with “creativity,” the disagreement over the level playing field could be resolved.

“The remaining 3% shouldn’t be beyond the capacity of both sides to bridge,” he said. “It would be an appalling failure of statecraft if we weren’t in a position to get a deal over the line.”

Raab Blames EU for Changing its Demands (9 a.m.)

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said there’s still a “long way” to go for the U.K. to strike a post-Brexit trade deal with the EU as he blamed the bloc for changing its demands.

While the EU and U.K. have set a deadline of Sunday to decide on the future of the talks, Raab told Sky News he “can’t close the door on” the talks continuing beyond this evening.

Fisheries and the so-called level playing field are the two main issues blocking the talks, Raab said, adding that the “goalposts shifted” from the EU side since the two countries struck the Withdrawal Agreement. He said the bloc is threatening any new relationship with the “torpedo of tariffs.”

“We want to be treated like any other independent self respecting democracy,” Raab said on Sunday in a Sky News interview. “If the EU can accept that at a political level, then there’s every reason to be confident, but there is still I think, a long way to go.”

U.K. Plans No-Deal Aid Package: Telegraph (Earlier)

U.K. cabinet ministers are working on 10 billion-pound ($13 billion) bail-out package to help hardest hit industries under a no-deal Brexit scenario, The Sunday Telegraphreported, citing unidentified sources familiar with the matter. The sectors affected range from sheep farmers and fishermen to carmakers and chemical companies.

EU Envoys May Hold Meeting on Sunday (Earlier)

Ambassadors from the 27 EU countries are tentatively planning a meeting to discuss the latest in the U.K. trade talks in Brussels on Sunday afternoon, a person familiar with the arrangements said.

The envoys are likely to be briefed by European Commission negotiators ahead of a Sunday evening deadline when the U.K. and EU say they will decide whether a deal can be reached or not.

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