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Neale Richmond, a leading member of Leo Varadkar’s Fine Gael Party, has dismissed any idea of Angela Merkel breaking rank and insisted the European Union would continue to work together in post-Brexit trade talks. Brexit talks between UK negotiator David Frost and his EU counterpart Michel Barnier remain on the brink after the latest round of discussions ended without an agreement on Thursday in London.
According to senior sources close to the negotiations, the UK believes Angela Merkel and her record of brokering a deal could be key to ending the deadlock.
Mr Richmond has since lashed out at the prospect and insisted the EU would not change its position.
He wrote on Twitter: “The EU is negotiating as one. How many times does this need to be said to the Brexit brigade?”
There remain less than five months to go until the end of the Brexit transition period, which coincides with Ms Merkel taking up a frontline role within the bloc.
The German Chancellor is currently the President of the Council of the European Union and will hold the six-month rotating position until the end of December.
The role will give Ms Merkel greater influence to set the agenda and sources believe this will help to get a deal over the line, especially now as the EU coronavirus recovery fund has been agreed.
The UK source said: “It is definitely possible now with the EU budget wrapped up that member states will become more engaged in this process in Brussels and get them moving forwards politically.
“The German presidency, obviously, should pay more attention to what’s going on, which I think has got to be helpful.
“Michel Barnier, in the final phase, hopefully, ought to have some political guidance.”
One senior EU diplomat was also confident in the ability of Ms Merkel and insisted the German Chancellor would be driven on by achieving an EU budget and Brexit deal in her tenure.
They told The Daily Telegraph: “Germany will get a deal because that’s what Merkel does.
“They will be able to say they got agreements on the EU budget and Brexit in one presidency.”
Following the latest round of talks, Mr Barnier conceded it was now “unlikely” a deal would be reached and warned the “time for answers is quickly running out”.
Mr Frost said “considerable gaps remain in the most difficult areas” including fishing and the so-called level-playing field on trade.
The UK chief negotiator was more upbeat about the prospect of a deal and said one could be reached in less than two months’ time, but called for the EU to change its approach to talks and recognise it is in discussions with an “independent state”.
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He said: “Despite all the difficulties, on the basis of the work we have done in July, my assessment is that agreement can still be reached in September.
“We should continue to negotiate with this aim in mind.”
Talks are now due to intensify over the summer, with the UK proposing to move into a “textual negotiation to get into the detail”.
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