UK Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said on Monday that the European Union must demonstrate more flexibility for the stalled trade talks to culminate in a deal, after the negotiations almost collapsed last week.
The UK still expects concessions from the EU, and Brussels should change its stance, according to the minister. “We hope that they could come forward now with some relatively small but important changes which respect us as an independent sovereign nation,” Robert Jenrick told Sky News.
He added that it would be sensible for the EU to show flexibility and “to go that extra mile,” otherwise the two sides will not be able to conclude the discussions in a way they would like.
He once again noted that London prefers a Canada-style deal, but is willing to forgo it.
Unless something changes, unless they are willing to come back to us and show that degree of flexibility and maturity, we’ll leave at the end of the year… and trade on the sorts of arrangements that Australia has.
Despite his conciliatory tone, London is launching a publicity campaign dubbed ‘Time is running out’, to warn companies to prepare for a no-deal Brexit. Cabinet minister Michael Gove said on Sunday that there is now less than a 50-percent chance of a post-Brexit trade deal.
Nevertheless, Gove told the BBC on Sunday that the door “is ajar,” and “we hope that the EU will change their position.”
Last week, the talks collapsed, with PM Boris Johnson saying he expects a “fundamental change” in the EU’s stance.
EU heads of state said on Friday they want a trade deal but not at all costs. German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged compromise on both sides, while French President Emmanuel Macron said the UK needs a Brexit deal more than the EU does.
A spokesman in Brussels said that Brexit negotiators from the EU and UK will discuss on Monday how to restart the talks.
The main sticking points still include customs issues, fisheries, state aid, and fair competition rules.
Over 70 British business groups representing more than 7 million workers urged the UK and EU on Sunday to find a compromise over trade terms and to strike a deal.
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