The UK is “Ready to Fight” as the first round of Trade agreement talks start today in Brussels

David Frost will lead the UK's negotiations in Brussels later today

The UK and European Union will face their first round of tough post-Brexit trade talks today with both sides well apart on a final agreement.

David Frost, the Prime Minister’s Europe adviser, and his team of negotiators will kick-start the nine-month process of vying to secure a new trade arrangement with the EU.

The first topic on the agenda will be Boris Johnson’s push for a comprehensive Canada-style free trade deal, as well as demands overfishing, state subsidies, and standards.

The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier has said a deal like Canada’s, which Boris would like, would eliminate most import taxes but still require some border checks.

Instead, he wants Britain to agree to sign up to a number of level-playing rules set by Brussels, the “Canada Deal is not suitable for Britain due to its close proximity and links to the continent,” he said.

Potential flashpoints could include the UK’s wish to diverge from EU employment and environmental standards in future, it’s ruling out of any role for the European Court of Justice, and the level of EU access to UK fishing waters.

French European Minister Amelie De Montchalin said the EU was prepared to abort a post-Brexit deal if European fishermen were denied access to British waters.

Michael Gove, the Cabinet minister responsible for Brexit preparations, said the UK would not “trade away” its “newly recovered sovereignty” during the talks.

“Our aim is to secure, through a fair and measured approach, a comprehensive free trade agreement, and also find common ground on questions such as fisheries, internal security and aviation,”

Check back later for a full report on the talks

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Tony Winterburn

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