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Get a grip on Brexit talks, UK opposition urges PM Johnson

·1 min read

LONDON, Nov 20 (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson needs to intervene personally in trade talks with the European Union to ensure a deal is reached as the clock ticks down, the opposition Labour Party said in a letter on Friday.

Britain and the EU urgently need to find a deal to avoid disruption to more than $1 trillion of trade between the two when a transition period expires in December. Despite months of intensive talks, gaps still remain on key issues.

Labour said ongoing uncertainty over whether a deal could be reached was holding back the economy and highlighted the damage that failing to reach an agreement would do to businesses and the ties between the four nations of the United Kingdom.

"I am writing to you as Prime Minister to urge you to take personal responsibility for the final days of negotiations, to deliver a trade deal with the EU and get this issue done. This is a matter of competence and leadership," said Labour's Rachel Reeves, the party's spokeswoman on the EU exit preparations.

Johnson's government says it wants a deal, but has so far been unable to find common ground with the EU on competition policy and fishing quotas. The prime minister says Britain will thrive even without a deal.

That scenario that would see most trade with the EU conducted on World Trade Organisation terms, meaning quotas and tariffs. The additional paperwork is expected to snarl Britain's ports in the near term and disrupt complex manufacturing and retail supply chains. (Reporting by William James; editing by Stephen Addison)