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Johnson to set out position on Brexit negotiations

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will today set out his position on the future of the Brexit negotiations.

Last night, there was a firm message from EU leaders in Brussels that the UK had to compromise on the key outstanding issues if there was to be an agreement.

The UK’s chief negotiator David Frost said he was disappointed at the message from the summit, and Mr Johnson has previously said that if there was no breakthrough at the summit then the UK could walk away from the negotiations.

The message from EU leaders was, if not uncompromising, then certainly a firm one.

In a final communique on Brexit, the European Council said the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, should continue negotiations, but that the conditions for agreement had not yet been reached, and that the UK should make the necessary moves to make agreement possible.

That prompted a cool response from Mr Frost, who said he was surprised at the idea that all moves to get an agreement had to come from the UK.

However, there has been considerable irritation among European capitals that Mr Johnson had set a unilateral deadline of the summit that was not agreed with the EU.

The outstanding issues remain fisheries, the so-called level playing field, and governance, or how disputes will be settled in the future.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said there was a clear message from leaders that the UK must drop the offending clauses of the Internal Market Bill, which would be in breach of the Northern Ireland Protocol, if there was to be an overall agreement on the future relationship.

French President Emmanuel Macron said French fishermen would not be sacrificed to get a trade deal, and that France would be prepared to live with a no deal outcome if necessary.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel struck a more conciliatory tone, saying that while the UK had to compromise, the EU also had to make concessions and that both sides had their red lines.

Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConologue said that while the Government is preparing for a no-deal Brexit, it still wants to reach an agreement and have “as close as possible” a relationship with the UK once the transition period ends at the end of the year. 

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, he said a no-deal Brexit would be “massively difficult” for the agriculture and fisheries sectors as well as the entire country. 

Minister McConalogue said that fisheries are a key element of any agreement for Ireland with 34% of Irish fish caught in UK waters and it will be “a challenging and existential” threat to fishing lives if there is no deal agreed. 

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