The claim came in May as Mr Frost briefed the Prime Minister that the EU must change its approach if there is to be any chance of sealing a free trade agreement before the deadline of the end of the year. He warned the prime minister that while Barnier was struggling to justify the “unreasonable demands”, the EU’s refusal to budge meant the bloc’s negotiator had little wriggle room. As the Telegraph reported, officials believe Brussels is trying to force a halfway house compromise on British red lines. These include a continued role for the European Court of Justice in British affairs, the creation of a Norway-style fishing agreement or the UK’s right to regulate itself as it sees fit.
Earlier in talks – Mr Frost raged at the EU’s “ideological approach” to the negotiations as Mr Barnier accused the Government of not understanding the consequences of Brexit.
The French politician said: “They seek to have the same benefits of a member state of our Single Market without the same rights and obligations.”
A UK source close to the negotiations said Mr Barnier’s accusation was “bewildering” because Britain only wanted what was typical from a free trade agreement.
They said in May: “Anyone who thinks this Government’s got nostalgia for 2018 or Chequers has an imperfect understanding of EU-UK political developments in the last couple of years.
“The only explanation is that their arguments on the merits are not working, and they’re reaching for some of the old script.”
Government sources said last month that the EU’s approach to trade talks has resulted in “paralysis”.
Brexit negotiations have stalled in recent months over two key issues – fisheries and regulatory alignment.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants to fulfil a Leave campaign promise that the UK will take back control of its waters post-Brexit.
Previously, EU vessels had free access to British fishing grounds, leaving many fishermen in the UK aggrieved.
However, the EU’s chief negotiator – Michel Barnier – has warned Mr Johnson he cannot secure access to European markets without allowing EU vessels into UK waters.
The UK is also looking to avoid EU regulations – giving the country more freedom to set its own laws on trading standards.
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A Government source said this week: “The particular way the EU insisted on parallelism led to paralysis. Obviously everything needs to be up for discussion, but it makes no sense to have everything going at the speed of the most difficult issues.
“Now they need to adapt their approach to make sure talks throughout the summer don’t suffer from unnecessary roadblocks.”