Irish PM Micheal Martin has warned that the EU and the UK must break an impasse shortly or face Brexit without a trade deal. British leader Boris Johnson said he only hopes “the power of sweet reason” might save the talks.
The EU and UK still have many issues to resolve, particularly in the area of the level playing field, Martin told Ireland’s parliament on Tuesday.
“The situation is very serious, this isn’t about choreography, as some people might think,” he said. “We are facing the prospect of a no-deal Brexit if something doesn’t break that in the next day or two.”
The PM said EU leaders “could very well be discussing preparations for a no-deal Brexit” at the summit on December 10 and 11.
The statement came as London clinched a deal with Brussels on Tuesday over how to manage the Ireland-Northern Ireland border, and agreed to drop clauses in draft domestic legislation that breached the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement and prompted the EU to take legal action.
The deal is separate to wider talks, but the EU had warned that no wider trade deal would be possible if London breached the exit treaty.
European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic said the deal “removed a big obstacle” to a possible trade deal.
However, Johnson indicated earlier on Tuesday that London could still abandon the trade talks. “We’re always hopeful, but you know, there may come a moment when we have to acknowledge that it’s time to draw stumps, and that’s just the way it is,” Johnson said, referring to a cricketing term for the end of play.
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