British trying to rewrite the Brexit rulebook, Simon Coveney claims

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson

The Minister for Foreign Affairs has accused the British government of effectively trying to rewrite the rulebook on Brexit negotiations.

Speaking on Newstalk’s Pat Kenny Show, Simon Coveney predicted that talks will “come to a head” in October and will involve a standoff between the UK and the EU.

Up until now, the UK had been looking for sectoral deals, but if they changed their approach progress could be made, he said.

The four rounds of trade talks to date had seen no real progress made between the two sides, he said, as effectively both sides were looking for different things which made it hard to make progress.

The UK had effectively tried to rewrite the rulebook on the negotiation of the political declaration they had signed earlier this year.

The implementation of the withdrawal agreement was a “little bit more positive” than trade talks, but there was still a lot of work to be done before the end of the year.

Mr Coveney predicted “a huge amount of pressure and probably a stand-off” which would require “good politics” to find a way acceptable to all sides.

The Minister for Foreign Affair's comments come as negotiators from the UK and European Union (EU) were meeting face to face in an effort to intensify talks on a post-Brexit trade deal.

Teams led by the UK Prime Minister’s Europe adviser David Frost and the EU’s Michel Barnier were meeting in Brussels for the first time since the coronavirus crisis forced talks to be held remotely.

The current transition period expires at the end of the year, meaning new arrangements will need to be in place or the UK will follow World Trade Organisation rules for its relationship with the EU.

European Commission spokesman Daniel Ferrie said: “Our overall message this week, but also for the coming weeks and coming months, is to intensify our negotiations in order to make progress in order to get a deal.”

Ahead of the latest round of talks, Mr Frost said the EU’s “unrealistic positions” would need to change if there is to be any progress.