Brexit transition period ‘not a given’ – Barnier

“Time is very short”, he claims, as pressure ramps up for both sides to agree a deal before March.

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier

Image: Michel Barnier warned time to agree a deal was ‘very short’

Hopes for a Brexit transition period have been thrown into doubt after EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier warned it is “not a given” if disagreements persist.

Mr Barnier said time was “very short” for both sides to strike a deal to stop a cliff-edge departure on Brexit day.

He suggested the EU was simply honouring the UK’s request for an “implementation period” of around two years.

But he claimed there were still “problems” in Brussels with “understanding the position”.

Prime Minister Theresa May this week vowed to be “robust” in the face of EU demands, including that freedom of movement continues during the transition.

Responding, Mr Barnier said: “I’m surprised by these disagreements and if they persist, a transition is not a given.”

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Both sides hope to reach an agreement by March so that negotiations on the UK’s future relationship with the EU – including trade – can begin.

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