Brexit deal on brink as Barnier could face mad rush to get agreement signed off by EU

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Mr Barnier met with Lord David Frost to continue Brexit negotiations in Brussels this week but talks concluded with the areas of divergence remaining. Following the conclusion of talks, Mr Barnier stated the EU is “prepared for all scenarios”. Despite his claims, one leading academic has claimed the bloc still has one major issue on its hands despite Mr Barnier’s claims.

Speaking to Express.co.uk, professor Ale De Ruyter of Birmingham University and director of its Centre for Brexit Studies, said there are still “political hoops” for the bloc to negotiate.

In the event of an agreement between the two sides, professor De Ruyter claimed time is now running out for the deal to be ratified by the EU27.

The EU27 must pass any potential free trade agreement if it is to take effect from January 1.

Professor De Ruyter said: “I think that the big issue is one of timing.

“It isn’t so much that the EU will forever fail to ratify a deal, merely that ratification might be held up due to the objections of an individual member state or region.

“Moreover, there are political hoops that need jumping through.

“In order to take effect on 1st January, any deal will need to be agreed really quite quickly now, and there is always the possibility of a delay in ratification.”

The EU has hinted the middle of this month stands as the deadline for a deal to be agreed before being ratified by the other member states.

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In order to break the Brexit deadlock, the Prime Minister and EU Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen are due to speak on Saturday.

During the conversation, the two will discuss the state of play of negotiations after Mr Barnier informed EU diplomats that serious divergences remain.

Lord Frost also echoed a similar sentiment and claimed problems still remain despite the two weeks of intensive talks.

The pair will hold talks again on Sunday in order to solve the areas of divergence: state aid, fishing rights and the dispute mechanism.

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Despite the concern over the lack of progress, the Prime Minister claimed he is still hopeful a deal can be agreed.

Mr Johnson said: “I very much hope that we will get a deal, and obviously that depends on our friends and partners across the Channel.

“I think there is a deal to be done if they want to do.

“If not, the country is of course very, very well prepared and as I have said before, we can do very, very well on Australian terms.”

If the two sides do not agree a Brexit trade deal, the UK and EU will trade on WTO terms.

The EU is already suffering from the ramifications of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a report released this week, the EU Commission predicted the Eurozone will shrink by 7.8 percent in 2020 due to a no deal Brexit and the pandemic.

It also stated the EU-wide economy will shrink by 7.8 percent before picking up again in 2021.

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