Boris Johnson and Emmanuel Macron hold Brexit talks ahead of October deadline

Boris Johnson and Emmanuel Macron hold Brexit talks ahead of October deadline

"With just 81 days until the end of the transition period, businesses must act now to ensure they are ready for the UK's new start come January", said business minister Alok Sharma, who will write to businesses regarding the changes.

The secretary will write a letter to more than 600,000 firms across the country on Monday, the British Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy said in a statement.

The government is providing a package of support to help businesses prepare for Britain's "new start" ahead of December 31, including an online tool to assess which actions a business needs to take and a series of free live webinars. He called on businesses to familiarise themselves with the actions they will need to take by visiting gov.uk/transition and using the checker tool.

The two chief negotiators, Barnier and Britain's David Frost, say they are inching towards a deal, though they have underscored that important gaps remain on fishing, level playing field issues and governance.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron held a phone conversation during which the latter was apprised that Britain wanted to "explore every avenue" to secure a post-Brexit trade deal with the European Union (EU), the media reported. He said in September that without agreement it would be time to "accept and move on".

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A statement by 10 Downing Street showed that Johnson underlined that a deal was better for both sides, but that the United Kingdom was "prepared to end the transition period on Australia-style terms if an agreement could not be found".

The Australia-style arrangement is an euphemism for failure to reach a free trade agreement with the EU, which means Britain-EU trade will fall back on World Trade Organization rules in 2021.

If the two sides fail to reach an accord, millions of consumers and businesses will face additional costs and disruption as quotas and tariffs are reimposed for the first time in a generation. This comes ahead of next week's crucial European Union summit.

The loss of any revenues now earned by the EU's fishing fleet in British waters would be relatively small compared with the wider trade deal, but it risks creating internal division as those who lose out seek to be compensated with extra catches elsewhere in European waters.

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