Boris Johnson tonight called on Brussels to ‘put a tiger in the tank’ and get the Brexit negotiations moving after EU negotiator Michel Barnier sent the pound plunging.
Mr Barnier claimed the ‘deadlocked’ talks were ‘very disturbing’ as the fifth round of negotiations ended in stalemate this morning.
The incendiary intervention prompted the Prime Minister to call for on EU leaders to trigger trade talks and end the standstill.
Foreign Secretary Mr Johnson piled on the pressure at a press conference with his Polish counterpart, insisting Britain had made ‘helpful suggestions’ and could see ‘no reason’ for the impasse.
Mr Barnier blasted Britain for failing to give more ground on settling its financial obligations to the EU.
At a joint press conference, Brexit Secretary David Davis admitted there were ‘points of tension in any negotiation’ but the important thing was where the talks, which have been in a stalemate for months, concluded.
The EU is demanding Britain honours all of its financial obligations agreed as a full member – some of which will last for decades. Britain wants to pay only up to the end of the current budget in 2020.
Theresa May (pictured today in Liverpool) demanded trade talks get underway after Michel Barnier sent the pound plunging by claiming the ‘deadlocked’ talks were ‘very disturbing’
Boris Johnson (pictured tonight at the Foreign Office) called on Brussels to ‘put a tiger in the tank’ and get the Brexit negotiations moving after EU negotiator Michel Barnier sent the pound plunging
Michel Barnier (pictured in Brussels today) said there was still a ‘common goal’ to reach an orderly withdrawal that included a framework for the future relationship ‘when the time comes’
Following the press conference, Mrs May said: ‘There has actually been good progress made in these talks and Michel Barnier himself has recognised that over the the coming weeks we will be able to make constructive progress as well.
‘I know that there has been a lot of work put into this and many issues on which we are very close to agreement such as on citizen rights, for example, which is important because we want EU citizens to stay here in the UK, but we also want to ensure that we get into the business of talking about the future relationship and the future partnership we are going to have with the EU.
‘That’s what I set out in my Florence speech, a positive agenda for the future.
‘We look forward to moving on to being able to talk about that.’
Speaking at the Foreign Office tonight, Mr Johnson added: ‘We think we’ve made some very helpful suggestions to get the great ship moving down the slipway onto the open seas.
‘We see no reason why that can’t take place. We are looking for some urgency.
‘It is time to put a tiger in the tank and get this thing done.’
Opening the regular joint press conference, Mr Barnier said the EU and UK ‘share the same objectives’ to protect the rights of citizens, preserve the Irish peace process and resolving budget issues.
The chief negotiator said these remained the EU’s conditions for trade talks.
But he blasted: ‘Let me be absolutely frank, we need to settle the accounts and we are in a position of deadlock at the moment.
‘But I am sure with the political will on the basis of the commitments entered into by Theresa May in her Florence speech, we can find a way forward.’
Mr Barnier’s use of the word ‘deadlocked’ shortly before noon today prompted a sharp plunge in the value of the pound against the Euro (left) and the Dollar (right)
Brexit Secretary David Davis said the Government wanted a deal but was planning for the contingency of failure
Mr Barnier (pictured at today’s press conference) blasted Britain for failing to give more ground on settling its financial obligations to the EU
He added: ‘This week, however, the UK repeated that it was still not ready to spell out these commitments.
‘There have therefore been no negotiations on this subject. We confined ourselves to technical discussions – useful discussions, but technical discussions.
‘On this question we have reached a state of deadlock which is very disturbing for thousands of project promoters in Europe and it’s disturbing also for taxpayers.’
Mr Davis hit back to insist Britain had studied the EU demands for cash line by line and would only consider them further once trade talks were underway.
He said: ‘We have undertaken a rigorous examination of the technical details. This is not a process for agreement on specific commitments – this can only come later.
‘But it is also important when the time comes we can reach an agreement quickly.’
He said ‘progress;’ has been made on the financial issues relating to Britain’s withdrawal but that ‘these issues are related to discussions on our future relationship.’
He added: ‘We are ready and well prepared for those future negotiations.’
Mr Davis and Mr Barnier greeted each warmly at the start of their regular press conference (pictured) before swapping barbs
Mr Davis admitted at the press conference there were ‘points of tension in any negotiation’ but the important thing was where the talks concluded
The press conference with David Davis (pictured) came at the conclusion of the fifth round of Brexit negotiations in Brussels
Mr Barnier warned ‘no deal will be a very bad deal, we will be ready to face any and all eventualities’.
He said there was still a ‘common goal’ to reach an orderly withdrawal that included a framework for the future relationship but insisted talks would only begin ‘when the time comes’.
On citizens’ rights, he said there remained outstanding questions over rights of family reunion and the use of the European Court for EU citizens living in Britain after Brexit.
Mr Barnier continued: ‘There is no question of making concessions on the thousands of European investment projects around Europe.
‘These are complex and difficult negotiations. We have shared obligations, we also have shared duties.’
He added: ‘There is a new momentum and I remain convinced today that with the political will decisive progress is within our grasp within the next two months.’
Amid a furious debate in London about Britain’s preparations for a no deal Brexit, Mr Davis said the Government still wanted a broad deal.
But he urged EU leaders to help deliver it.
He said: ‘The Prime Minister’s speech set out the scale of our ambition for our deep and special partnership with the European Union.
‘And also laid out the case for a simple, clear and time-limited period of implementation on current terms.
‘As I said when I stood here last time, I hope the leaders of the 27 will provide Michel with the means to explore ways forward with us on that.’
The Prime Minister told Brussels the ‘ball is in your court’ and urged the EU to help forge a ‘dynamic, creative and unique’ relationship as she dismissed the prospect of further concessions before trade talks begin as she updated Parliament about Brexit on Monday
Ahead of today’s press conference, Theresa May had urged Brussels to move on to trade talks in the Brexit negotiations – telling EU leaders earlier this week that the ‘ball is in your court’.
The PM has tried to unblock to talks by setting out her Brexit offer in her landmark address in Florence last month.
She has said the UK wants a two year transition in which we would stay in the single market, customs and union and still be subject to rulings from EU judges.
Earlier this week she told Brussels ‘ball is in your court’ and dismissed the prospect of further concessions before trade talks begin.
But Eurocrats have been refusing to move on to trade talks in a row over the Brexit divorce bill.
They also insist that ‘sufficient progress’ must be made on EU citizens rights and the Irish border question before the next phase of talks can kick off.
It comes as fresh Cabinet splits emerged over the preparations for Brexit, with relations between the PM and her Chancellor plunged into a deep freeze.
Philip Hammond infuriated many of his colleagues yesterday by saying he would only release the billions of pounds needed to prepare for no deal at the last possible moment.
His stance contradicts Mrs May who has repeatedly insisted Britain is prepared to walk away if Brussels cannot agree a good deal.
Mrs May slapped down her chancellor yesterday by telling the Commons that money has been pumped into preparing country for a possible ‘no deal’ option.
Brexit Secretary David Davis and the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier, pictured together in Brussels last month. The pair have now held five rounds of negotiations