EU chief urges UK to put Brexit ‘cards on the table’

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The president of the European Council Charles Michel urged British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday to clarify the UK’s position in deadlocked post-Brexit trade talks.

“Just talked to Boris Johnson,” Michel tweeted after the call, which an EU source said had been requested by Johnson. “The EU prefers a deal, but not at any cost. Time for the UK to put its cards on the table.”

Johnson has said he will give EU and UK negotiators until October 15 — when Michel will host an EU leaders’ summit — to show progress in the trade talks, or he may pull the plug.

But Brussels has refused the recognise the deadline, and EU officials say no deal is possible unless Johnson explains how he plans to compromise with EU demands on fishing quotas, state subsidies and fair competition between firms on each side of the Channel.

Diplomats say Johnson must take a more direct role in the process, but an EU source described the conversation with Michel as a “state-of-play call”.

“We keep insisting on a deal which would be good for both sides and urge the UK to move,” the source said.

Reacting directly to Michel’s tweet, the French minister for European Affairs Clement Beaune warned that member states would prefer that Britain leave the single market at the end of the year without a trade trade, rather than compromise on their priorities.

“We are clear: We will not accept a bad deal,” Beaune tweeted in French, before switching to English to pick up a former British slogan from the long Brexit negotiations: “Better no deal than bad deal.”

“Our priorities are firm and defined: fish, fair competition and clear rules to ensure the deal in respected,” he said.

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