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Boris Johnson on Friday broke off trade talks with the EU, bringing to a crisis point months of negotiations and throwing down the gauntlet to Brussels to adopt “a fundamental change of approach”. Downing Street told Michel Barnier, EU trade negotiator, not to come to London for further talks next week unless he was ready to make a new offer that respected the UK as “an independent country”. The UK prime minister’s threat to end the transition period on January 1 without a trade deal was seen by some as a theatrical gesture, a necessary moment of “crisis” before both sides finally made concessions to reach a deal. But it created alarm among British businesses, already facing grave difficulties because of coronavirus and now facing the prospect of tariffs on trade with the EU that would be crippling for some sectors.
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