The UK’s chief Brexit negotiator has issued Michel Barnier a tough timeline on trade talks. David Frost's warning that the UK's patience is running out will serve as a major wake-up call to Barnier, who has so far remained stubborn on key issues. It remains to be seen if he will relent during next week's round of post-Brexit trade meetings in Brussels.
Despite the lack of progress, Frost insisted he was "looking forward" to the seventh round of post-Brexit talks with his European counterpart. In a tweet, Frost stated: "As always, we go in good faith to talk constructively about all the issues. Our assessment is that agreement can be reached in September and we will work to achieve this if we can."
He went on to repeat Britain's assertion that it is not seeking an unfair trade pact with the bloc.
Frost added: "As we keep saying, we are not looking for a special or unique agreement. We want a deal with, at its core, an FTA like those the EU has agreed with other friendly countries, like Canada."
Frost's statements come at a time that Boris Johnson said there will be a trade border down the Irish Sea "over my dead body" following the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31. During a visit to Northern Ireland, the Prime Minister reiterated his promise that businesses in the region would enjoy unfettered access to markets in England, Scotland and Wales.
The EU is keen to ensure Northern Ireland does not become a backdoor entry point to its single market. Business leaders in Northern Ireland have expressed concern that red tape on goods crossing from Great Britain could make some trade unviable. The Government has insisted a £355million package to help Northern Ireland's businesses navigate Brexit red tape is not an admission of an Irish Sea border.