Politics

Brexit LIVE: EU backs down from trade talks threat – Macron plea for legal action ignored

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The EU and UK have agreed to hold trade talks in Brussels next Monday as the two sides desperately try to find a way through the latest controversy threatening to derail a Brexit deal. In parallel, officials from both sides will take part in a Joint Committee meeting, which will see Michael Gove in Brussels to meet European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic. The Prime Minister is pressing ahead with the UK Government’s Internal Market Bill, which overrides key elements of the Withdrawal Agreement signed with the EU last year and breaks international law.

The move has infuriated Brussels, with the threat of legal action also hanging over Britain.

But British officials will travel to the Belgian capital for trade talks with Mr Banier and the meeting with Mr Sefcovic at the start of next week, buoyed by the fact the EU hasn’t pulled the plug despite some countries pushing the Commission for a tougher line.

Some, namely France, had even wanted Mr Sefcovic to refuse to meet the UK delegation until the offending clauses were withdrawn from the Bill.

But the meeting represents a major snub to French President Mr Macron, who has been pushing hard for eurocrats to open legal proceedings against Britain over an alleged breach of the divorce treaty.

But hardliners in Paris were quickly warned to be more cautious because a European Court of Justice case could easily trigger a huge collapse in post-Brexit trade talks.

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