The wrangling over a post-Brexit trade pact between the EU and Britain continued on Sunday, the day the European Parliament set as the last opportunity for the agreement to be reached. Fears are growing that the sides will be unable to break the impasse, potentially resulting in Britain‘s chaotic year-end crash out of the EU’s single market and customs union. It‘s been over four years since Britain voted to leave the EU. It formally left at the end of January but remains in the single market as part of a transition period until the end of this year. Their trade ties are tightly intertwined. If no deal is clinched, disruptive tariffs and customs checks will be reinstated, perhaps massively snarling up traffic on the border. Anxiety is also high over a potential shortage in essential goods. As the talks continued through the weekend, British media quoted government circles in London as saying on Sunday that Brussels still needed a “substantial shift” in its position. The sources also stuck a downbeat tone on the prospect for a deal, saying it was looking increasingly less likely, with fishing rights now seen as the main stumbling block. Deadlines have repeatedly been blown in the Brexit crisis, and the European Parliament‘s Sunday finishing date could easily be another. London has repeatedly said that December 31 is its final moment for a deal. The European Parliament “stands ready” to hold an emergency session for ratification but only if ”an agreement is reached by midnight on Sunday”, its political group leaders said in a joint statement. EU lead negotiator Michel Barnier said on Friday that the two sides are now making their “last try” for a deal, but warned that the slippery question of fish is blocking progress. British navy to protect fishing if tensions flare after no-deal Brexit If no deal is made, EU fishing fleets will lose their automatic access to highly fertile British waters. London insists on having total sovereignty over its waters, while EU negotiators want continued access to be part of a future deal. Meanwhile, the Brexit committee in the British parliament has criticised the government’s preparations for the imminent end of a transition phase at the end of this year. It was “disappointing” that some decisions had been “so long delayed” when it came to the issue of the Irish border, the Committee on the Future Relationship with the European Union said. “The citizens of Northern Ireland deserved to know far sooner the terms of trade within their own country,” it said. When it comes to law enforcement, “the loss of access to certain databases and sources of information that we have made great use of is a cause of concern”, it said. “It is unlikely that there will be an EU-UK Surrender Agreement ready to replace the European Arrest Warrant,” it added. Exclusive | EU agrees ‘in principle’ to an investment agreement with China “While we welcome the government’s attempts to communicate to businesses the changes that will take place on 1 January, results appear patchy at best,” it said. “We are also concerned about the overall state of readiness.” Kilometres-long lines of lorries queued up on British motorways leading to the important port of Dover on the English Channel as well as the Eurotunnel. Christmas trade and the high demand for medical supplies due to the coronavirus, but also the restocking of many warehouses before the end of the Brexit transition period, are causing the backlog in traffic. For weeks now, trade associations have been criticising congested ports and high freight prices. In some ports, ships have already been turned away because there was no space to unload cargo.