Both sides in the protracted talks to try to find a trade agreement before the end of next month said on Tuesday that the sticking points remain unresolved. There are three stubborn problems, fisheries, a ‘level playing field’ and a framework for settling disputes,

Of all three, fisheries appears to remain the biggest stumbling block.

A spokesman for UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “We’ll only be able to make progress if the EU accepts the reality that the UK will have the right to control access to its waters at the end of this year.”

Britain’s sovereignty is very much tied in with fisheries, which although not very significant in terms of the overall UK economy are an iconic symbol for many British people and a more photogenic topic than regulatory alignment.

There are indications that the talks in recent days have not been very calm, with the temperature raised by the UK going back on aspects of its previous treaty agreements.

The EU’s Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, is due to brief the 27 national envoys to Brussels on the latest developments in the talks at a meeting starting at 13:30 GMT on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: Michel Barnier