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Barnier's comments are misleading on Britain's trade talks position, says PM's spokesman

FILE PHOTO: EU's Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier attends the MEDEF union summer forum "La Rencontre des Entrepreneurs de France, LaREF", at the Paris Longchamp Racecourse in Paris, France, August 26, 2020. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

LONDON (Reuters) - Comments made by the EU’s chief negotiator on Britain’s position on talks on a future relationship offer a misleading representation of the government’s proposals, a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday.

On Wednesday, Michel Barnier said Britain was not showing enough flexibility in engaging with the EU’s demands on guarantees of fair competition, on fisheries and solving disputes, putting a deal on their future relationship at risk.

Since Britain left the bloc in January, talks on a trade agreement and other future ties have all but stalled, with each side accusing the other of failing to compromise before a transition period runs out at the end of this year.

U.S. bank JPMorgan said there was about a one-third chance of the two failing to agree a deal.

“Michel Barnier’s comments are a misleading representation of our proposals, aimed at deflecting scrutiny from the EU’s own positions, which are unrealistic, and unprecedented,” said the spokesman.

“For our part, we have been consistently clear that we’re seeking a relationship that respects our sovereignty and which has a free trade agreement at its core, similar to those the EU already agreed with like-minded countries.”

The two sides will start a formal round of talks next week.

Reporting by Elizabeth Piper and William James; editing by Alistair Smout and Stephen Addison

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