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EU must show flexibility or UK leaves with no deal, London warns

EU must show flexibility or UK leaves with no deal, London warns
Britain expects the European Union to be more flexible in talks on a free trade deal, and says it is ready to leave the bloc without an agreement if it doesn’t get a realistic response over its status “as an independent country.”

Explaining the UK’s stance on post-Brexit talks, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said that “a Canada-style free trade arrangement” would be preferable for London.

However, if Brussels doesn’t show “the degree of flexibility and realism that we want them to show… then we’ll leave with the kind of trading arrangements that Australia and other countries have,” Jenrick told Sky News. “We think that’s also a good arrangement for the future,” the minister said.

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The statement came as Britain entered a fresh round of Brexit trade talks with the EU on Tuesday. “We have now been talking for six months and can no longer afford to go over well-trodden ground,” the UK’s top Brexit negotiator, David Frost, said in a statement. “We need to see more realism from the EU about our status as an independent country.”

Frost also warned that Britain is ready to be trading on terms like those the EU has with Australia. “We are ramping up our preparations for the end of the year,” Frost said.

The EU told London on Monday that there would be no trade deal, following reports that the UK might undercut the Withdrawal Agreement treaty signed in January.

British officials say they are still committed to the treaty, but that it needed minor clarifications and a backup plan to support the 1998 Northern Ireland peace deal.

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