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Angela Merkel warns EU to get ready for no deal ahead of Boris Johnson’s Brexit deadline
Angela Merkel has warned the EU must get ready for a no deal Brexit, as UK government sources said Michel Barnier was to blame if Boris Johnson’s October 15 Brexit deadline is missed on Thursday. Mrs Merkel said the EU wanted to secure the trade deal “in such a short space of time” in a speech to a Brussels-based EU institution. “Unfortunately we have to prepare for the event there will be no agreement,” the German Chancellor said before appearing to urge other EU member states to compromise. “We also have to take into account the reality; an agreement has to be in the interests of both parties, in British interests as well as the interests of the 27 member European Union,” she aid. In London, Boris Johnson told his Cabinet he believed a deal could still be done by Thursday’s European Council summit in two days’ time. “If we can’t get there we are ready and willing to move forward with an Australian style outcome, which holds no fear,” said the Prime Minister’s spokesman, using a euphemism for no deal WTO terms. In Luxembourg, Mr Barnier told Europe Ministers that not enough progress had been made on fisheries, the level playing field or enforcement to get the deal done by the summit. He made it clear he expects negotiations to continue beyond Mr Johnson’s deadline until the end of the month. EU diplomats said that Mr Barnier had their’ “full support”. British sources accused Mr Barnier of being unable to marshall the 27 member states behind necessary compromises in sectors such as fishing, where France has vowed to show “no weakness”. “The EU have been using the old playbook in which they thought running down the clock would work against the UK,” a British government source said. “But in fact all these tactics have achieved is to get us to the middle of October with lots of work that could have been done left undone.” Mr Barnier miscalculated by refusing to negotiate further on any other issues until there was progress on the three major obstacles to a deal, a strategy the EU dubbed “parallelism”, UK sources alleged. UK sources claimed that with more “realism” from the EU and a significant move on fisheries “we could still get there”. “This is all the more frustrating because it is clear that we have come a long way since the beginning of the year,” the source said. “Time is now extraordinarily short. We need the EU to urgently up the pace and inject some creativity.” “The EU will continue to work for a fair deal in the coming days and weeks,” Michel Barnier tweeted. He said there was a “strong EU unity” at the meeting of Europe ministers. “There is some movement here and there, but it is not sufficient by far and no tunnel in sight,” an EU diplomat said. The “tunnel” is Brussels jargon for secret intense talks to clinch a deal. “Level playing field, fisheries and enforcement measures remain the key controversial issues,”the diplomat said. Lord Frost, the UK’s negotiator (below), will tell Boris Johnson on Wednesday if the Prime Minister’s demand that a trade agreement be “in sight” by the summit has been met.