BREXIT talks took a turn for the worse last night after the EU tabled fresh demands at the 11th hour.
High hopes of a deal fuelled by late night takeaway pizza looked dashed as the UK said the prospect of a breakthrough was “receding”.
Talks hit a snag yesterday afternoon when EU negotiators introduced new demands for Britain to stick to EU standards after Brexit.
The terms would severely limit the UK Government’s ability to support struggling industries and keep us tied to EU rules for years.
And Brussels was still refusing to accept Britain’s offer for EU fishing boats to keep 40 per cent of their catch in UK seas.
Sources blamed France for an 11th hour spanner in the works.
It came after EU countries began to turn on each other publicly, with Ireland slamming Emmanuel Macron’s hardline approach.
Sources close to the UK team said the talks were on the verge of collapse.
A senior government source said: “At the 11th hour, the EU is bringing new elements into the negotiation. A breakthrough is still possible in the next few days but that prospect is receding.”
Another UK source said: “Their demands are a big step backwards and are destabilising.”
There was even speculation that EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier would return to Brussels today, in a major blow to the chance of a deal.
An insider suggested it “wouldn’t be a bad thing if everyone took a break tomorrow”.
They added: “The fresh demands have definitely thrown us back.”
As sandwiches were delivered from the five-star Conrad hotel, a coalition of hardline countries led by France and including Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain, warned Mr Barnier not to compromise.
But Irish PM Micheál Martin said other leaders should “have faith and trust” in Mr Barnier.
He fumed: “We can’t all be negotiators at the table. It’s clear to me that the landing zone is there for an agreement.”
Dublin’s foreign minister Simon Coveney warned the group is making a “very dangerous assumption” if it thinks the UK will return to talks after No Deal.
He said Ireland would “get caught in the cross-fire”.
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