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David Frost, the Prime Minister’s Brexit envoy, is exploring fresh ways to “inject a little bit of a spark” into the talks after they broke up today without any significant progress, sources have claimed. He tabled a new draft legal text during a private dinner with EU counterpart Michel Barnier in the hope of beginning a fresh negotiation over the final future relationship pact. A UK negotiating official said: “The point of that is really to inject a bit of a spark into the process.
“We think the only possible way forward now is to have a detailed discussion of legal texts given the time constraints. Obviously that’s not the EU’s position at the moment.
“The point of this communication is to show that it is possible to have such a discussion. It is possible to consolidate the positions between the two sides on goods and services and have the basis for a good discussion.
“The purpose of sending this is to lock in progress and show it’s possible to move to a textual discussion.”
The dossier is understood to reflect existing positions set out by British negotiators during previous rounds of talks.
However, it includes a fresh chapter on geographical indicators – trade rules that protect protect the unique status of food and drink products.
Mr Frost has said he will share the negotiating document with member states, which could force Mr Barnier’s hand during future talks.
The pair have agreed to keep in regular touch with weekly meetings scheduled to take place next month.
The mood in the British camp is far more optimistic of that in Brussels, with EU officials fearful the process is heading towards no deal.
Mr Barnier earlier warned: “Too often this week it felt as if we were going backwards more than forwards.
“Given the short time left, what I said in London in July remains true,” he said.
“Today, at this stage, an agreement between the UK and the EU seems unlikely. I simply do not understand why we are wasting valuable time.”
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He blamed Downing Street and accused the Government of not showing enough flexibility to broker a compromise.
Mr Barnier said: “Those who were hoping for negotiations to move on swiftly forward this week will have been disappointed.
“Unfortunately I too have been frankly disappointed as well, I must say. Prime Minister Boris Johnson told us in June that he wished to speed up. This week, once again, as in the July round, the British negotiators have not shown any real willingness to move forward.”
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But Mr Frost hit back, insisting a deal is still possible even if Brussels has all but given up hope.
After the talks wrapped up, he said: “We have been clear from the outset about the principles underlying the UK approach. We are seeking a relationship which ensures we regain sovereign control of our own laws, borders, and waters, and centred upon a trading relationship based on an FTA like those the EU has concluded with a range of other international partners, together with practical arrangements for cooperation in areas such as aviation, scientific programmes, and law enforcement. When the EU accepts this reality in all areas of the negotiation, it will be much easier to make progress.
“We will continue to work hard to reach an agreement. Chief Negotiators and their teams have agreed to remain in close contact over the next two weeks before the next Round in London in the week of September 7.”
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